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The Daily


Isthmus on the isthmus: Oscar picks from industry insiders (video)

Ben Reiser, a filmmaker in his own right, surveys a panel of movie experts from Sundance Cinemas and Four Star Video Heaven on their Oscar picks. >More
 Warlords duke it out in John Woo's spectacular Red Cliff

It's easy to tell which side is virtuous and which side is debased in Red Cliff, John Woo's spectacular war film set in third-century China. The virtuous leaders love music and tea, and they commune with nature. The debased ones desecrate their dead. >More
 The Damned United: Grudge match

Newt Gingrich, you'll recall, shut down the federal government because Bill Clinton made him use the back door of the plane. Depending on whom you ask, the stakes aren't quite so high in the marvelous British sports film The Damned United, but like the Gingrich story, this movie likewise warns us that grudges can lead to disaster. >More
 The White Ribbon: The village people

I was excited when I sat down to watch The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke's Oscar-nominated film about mysterious events in a German town just before World War I. But 144 minutes later, I had to ask: That's all? >More
 Big River: Spray our lives away

Big River, a short playing Tuesday at the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival, presents itself as a companion to King Corn. >More
 Tolstoy stops at The Last Station

When I saw the trailer for the Leo Tolstoy picture The Last Station, I felt a pang of sadness for Christopher Plummer, still trying to get out from under The Sound of Music after all these years. The new film stars, we're told in great big letters, Academy Award winner Helen Mirren, Academy Award nominee Paul Giamatti and... Christopher Plummer. >More
 Nicolas Cage camps it up in The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans

Either The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans is highly entertaining meta-kitsch in the mode of Ken Russell, or it is exquisitely bad. Or it's both. Ask me tomorrow. >More
 Scorsese delivers solid frights in Shutter Island

Shutter Island is a good genre horror movie and a terrific Scorsese picture as well: a beautifully crafted film with a brilliant cast and production values that, while not skimping on blood and guts, don't try to shock you with gore so much as play with your head, upset your conception of reality. >More
 Oscar-nominated shorts are a mixed bag

Judging from this year's Oscar-nominated animated shorts, animators are learning the wrong lesson from Pixar. The studio has perfected a style of big-screen digital animation that emphasizes busy-ness: frenetic action, vertigo-inducing camera movements, frames packed with detail. And let's not forget the cutesy, bug-eyed characters. >More
 The Messenger is an anguished war story

The funeral march from Chopin's second piano sonata is a very sad piece of music. In The Messenger, it is also a very sick joke. When Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson) is called on to notify a slain soldier's next of kin, his pager beeps a discomfitingly chirpy rendition of the familiar tune. That pager is one of many precise and telling details in a graceful film. >More
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