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MVFF38 Review: ‘Spotlight’

Spotlight (Open Road Films) should shine bright at the Independent Spirit Awards

  Telling the story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe reporters whose 2001 investigation broke through the systemic cover-up of Catholic priests sexually abusing kids and being shuttled around to different parishes for protection is not an easy gamble. Ultra-sensitive material and a tendency for stories like this to glamorize the job over the story happen all the time. Not ...

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MVFF38 Preview: ‘Brooklyn’

Brooklyn

  The story of young Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey (played by Saiorse Ronan) coming to America in the 1950s, Brooklyn is so carefully crafted and old fashioned that subverts any real drama in favor of a beautiful presentation. Remember that bowl of candy at your grandma’s house? You know the one; it looks delicious but then you go to pick ...

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MVFF38 Preview: ‘I SMILE BACK,’ starring Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman and Josh Charles star in I Smile Back, featured at the 38th Mill Valley Film Festival

  Comedian Sarah Silverman is a complete revelation in her first leading dramatic film role as an upper class soccer mom with daddy issues and a serious drug problem in I Smile Back. That might sound like I’m diminishing the returns of her performance but only because she rises so far above material that isn’t terribly original. The thing that ...

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MVFF38 Preview: ‘TRUTH,’ starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford

Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett in Truth

  Based on the book “Truth and Duty: The Press, The President and the Power of Privilege” by Pulitzer and Emmy winning television producer Mary Mapes and detailing the explosive story of then President George W. Bush’s questionable history with the National Guard during the Vietnam War, Truth is a riveting piece of cinema with a powerhouse performance by two-time ...

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REVIEW: Foreign Language Film Oscar Winners 1947-1951

foreign-language-film-oscar-winners-1947-1951-jeff-beachnau

As the deadline for 2015 entries for the Foreign Language Film Oscar approaches (October 1st), AwardsWatch contributor Jeff Beachnau (Worst Picture/Best Picture Series) delves into the history of the Foreign Language Film Oscar with reviews of every film. Here is the first in the series. In 1947 the Academy Awards began awarding special Oscars to Foreign Films, and by 1956 ...

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TIFF Review: ‘Freeheld,’ starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page

Julianne Moore and Ellen Page in 'Freeheld'

  We now live in an era where gays have the same rights to marriage that has been open to heterosexuals in America for longer than two hundred years. But, as little as just three months ago, this was not the case. It’s been a decade-spanning struggle, but thanks to the efforts of bold champions who tirelessly fought, we now ...

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Is The Danish Girl Sending a Dangerous Message About Trans* People?

danish-girl-redmayne-vikander-hig-res

  One only has to hear Tom Hooper and Eddie Redmayne passionately discuss the research they did in preparation for The Danish Girl to realize that they fully intended to make a film that would legitimize the struggles of transgendered people. They read scores of literature on the subject, and spent time with many trans men and women, listening to ...

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REVIEW: ‘Grandma’ (★★★½)

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to an Abortion: Lily Tomlin in 'Grandma'

  Sometimes endings are beginnings. In Grandma, the new film by Paul Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy), we start at the end; the end of a relationship between the acid-tongued Elle (Lily Tomlin) and her much younger girlfriend Olivia (the never long enough used Judy Greer). “You’re a footnote,” Elle says. It’s a mortal wound, to be sure, but ...

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REVIEW: ‘Irrational Man’ (★★★)

irrational-man-stone-phoenix

  After a joyful return to form with 2011’s Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s slump of To Rome with Love, Blue Jasmine (yes, as great as Cate Blanchett’s performance is, this too) and Magic in the Moonlight was beginning to worry me. Were we in for a down period as long as between Small Time Crooks and Match Point? Thankfully ...

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REVIEW: ‘Southpaw’ (★★★)

southpaw-jake-gyllenhaal

  It’s hard to think of a more adventurous and versatile American actor of his generation than Jake Gyllenhaal. He’s become a chameleon of a performer; in just a year’s time he’s gone from his brilliant turn as the spindly opportunist Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler (for which he was criminally robbed of an Oscar nomination) to his off-Broadway role as ...

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