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Film, "Elysium": In Space, No One Can Hear You Be the 99 Percent

"Elysium": In Space, No One Can Hear You Be the 99 Percent

As didactic as science fiction gets, Elysium delivers an allegory about the haves and have-nots — and the plight of illegal immigrants — that's so blunt, it operates as little more than a cacophonous CG-ified lecture. Working in the same…
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Film, "Promised Land": The Message Is the Message

"Promised Land": The Message Is the Message

Salesmen are typically depicted in screen drama as the quintessential American phonies. The exceptions — in Barry Levinson's Avalon or Whit Stillman's Barcelona — are buried under a mountain of films proving the rule. That one set of phonies are…
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Film, "The Bourne Legacy": More Like the Damon Lacuna

"The Bourne Legacy": More Like the Damon Lacuna

The Bourne films have more than just overstayed their welcome and outlasted the Ludlum books — they've been Van Halenized, with an abrupt change of frontman and a resulting dip in personality. The only big-ass popcorn franchise of the past…
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Film, "American Teacher": Matt Damon Sticks Up for Conservatives' Punching Bag

"American Teacher": Matt Damon Sticks Up for Conservatives' Punching Bag

One of the right wing's favorite punching bags — and even, increasingly, the left's — is the teaching profession. Director Vanessa Roth, who co-produced American Teacher with Ninive Calegari and Dave Eggers and scored Matt Damon to narrate, counters the…
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Film, "Contagion":  Steven Soderbergh's Frighteningly Smart Pandemic Thriller

"Contagion": Steven Soderbergh's Frighteningly Smart Pandemic Thriller

Currently the fifth-to-last film on Steven Soderbergh's ever-expanding pre-retirement slate, Contagion opens on day two of a global viral epidemic. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Beth Emhoff, an American employee of an ominously unspecific multinational corporation, who returns from a business trip…
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Music, All Shook Down How to Get Backstage After the Show

How to Get Backstage After the Show

Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id="ieooui"> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:SimSun;} These days, being backstage at a show usually involves…
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Film, "The Adjustment Bureau": The Conspiracy Flick That Just Won't Shut Up

"The Adjustment Bureau": The Conspiracy Flick That Just Won't Shut Up

In Bourne Ultimatum screenwriter George Nolfi's directorial debut (an extremely loose adaptation of Philip K. Dick's 1954 short story "Adjustment Team"), Matt Damon plays David Norris, a Brooklyn-born, barfight-prone congressman rocketing to the front of a Senate race apparently on…
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Film, <i>The Green Zone</i>: Mission finally accomplished

The Green Zone: Mission finally accomplished

Better late than never — a bang-bang pulse-pounder predicated on the Bush administration's deliberate fabrication of WMDs in Iraq. Paul Greengrass' expertly assembled Green Zone has evidently been parked for some time on Universal's shelf. Had the movie been released…
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Calendar, Night&Day <i>The Informant!</i>

The Informant!

In 1992, Mark Whitacre (played here by Matt Damon, beneath 30 pounds of pudge and a toupee) was a golden boy at Archer Daniels Midland with a big problem: His attempts to create an amino acid by feeding corn to…
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Film, Like Herding Sheep

Like Herding Sheep

It took Norman Mailer seven years and 1,282 pages to write 1991's Harlot's Ghost: A Novel of the CIA, and if memory serves, it took me 12 years to finish it. So director Robert De Niro and screenwriter Eric Roth…
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Film, Bait and Switch

Bait and Switch

No studio director was a greater hero to the Hong Kong new wave than Martin Scorsese. John Woo dedicated The Killer to him; Wong Kar-wai modeled his first feature, As Tears Go By, after Mean Streets; Taxi Driver's rain-slicked slo-mo…
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Film, Black Forest

Black Forest

Terry Gilliam's last film featured the former Monty Python troupe member as an eccentric, demanding, and difficult director prone to destroying his ambitious projects before a single frame of footage was ever shot. "If it's easy," he says in the…
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Film, Farrelly Mediocre

Farrelly Mediocre

Remember the Farrelly brothers? Makers of Dumb & Dumber and There's Something About Mary? Known for crossing the line of good taste and making fun of the differently abled, but with a sufficiently sweet streak that they could be forgiven…
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Film, Mexican Jumping Scenes

Mexican Jumping Scenes

It's where Walter Huston found paradise at the end of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, where the murdering lovers Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw rode into the sunset at the end of The Getaway, and where Thelma and Louise…
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Film, Reel World

Reel World

Look closely at the San Francisco International Film Festival program and you'll spot a real scandal: This might be your only chance to see Our Song, Jim McKay's extraordinary slice of Brooklyn adolescent life. It's simple arithmetic: No Stars +…
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Know When to Fold 'Em

Rounders Directed by John Dahl. Written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien. Starring Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Malkovich, Gretchen Mol, and John Turturro. Opens Friday, Sept. 11, at area theaters. Matt Damon, the blond matinee idol, has apparently become…
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Zoom Lens

Karel Kachyna Tribute In the 1960s Karel Kachyna, working closely with the same writer, composer, and cinematographer, made some of the many outstanding films of the Czech New Wave -- films distinguished by expressive new techniques and carefully observed reports…
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Court, No Spark

John Grisham's The Rainmaker Directed and written by Francis Ford Coppola, from John Grisham's novel. Starring Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Mary Kay Place, Mickey Rourke, and Danny DeVito. Opens Friday, Nov. 21, at the Regency and the Empire.…
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