Dennis Harvey

Gonna fly now?

A battered Mickey Rourke bids for late-round greatness in The Wrestler
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Sometimes a role seems so closely tailored to a public persona and private notoriety it becomes inseparable from that combined mythos — less a demonstration of acting than an extension of what we already suspected about the actor. Errol Flynn both distinguished and humiliated himself with late-career portrayals of sodden louts. Marlon Brando appeared to be playing his own supremely weird-ass id in Last Tango in Paris (1972). Read more »

Brainy scifi

Timecrimes is an Escher painting of a narrative
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REVIEW Middle-aged Hector (Karra Elejalde) is lounging outside his country home when he spies through binoculars a young woman naked in the woods. Investigating, he's attacked by a man with a face covered by bloody bandage, and flees to a nearby property where a laboratory worker (Nacho Vigalondo) tells him to hide from his pursuer in a mechanical device. When Hector

reemerges from the as-yet-untested time machine, it's several hours earlier — and his binoculars now spy himself, or "Hector 2," at home going through the same pre-attack motions. Read more »

Dick in a box

An ex-prez and a journalist make TV history in Frost/Nixon
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If the assassination of JFK was a defining, traumatic blow to American hopefulness, the Watergate scandal a decade later arguably created something worse: a deep collective cynicism that our politics could never escape corruption, or that the guilty would be truly punished even when caught red-handed. How much worse have we shrugged off since?

As the most secretive White House in modern memory pulls up stakes, there's a fear that particular history may repeat itself. Read more »

Cinematic repression

The Reader translates an interior-voice tome into cinema
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REVIEW Falling ill from scarlet fever on a mid-1950s Berlin street, strapping 15-year-old schoolboy Michael Berg (David Kross) experiences kindness from passerby Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet) that he seeks to repay when he recovers some months later. The brusque, moody woman more than twice his age brushes him off, initially. But then they commence an affair in which she proves a very astute erotic tutor, though she resists the emotional connection he feels. A decade later, as a law student, he discovers Hanna's secret while spectating a Nazi war crimes trial. Read more »

Nubostubalgubiuba!

Kiddie nostalgia with ZOOM: Back to the 70s
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FREE TO BE TV If you were a kid in the late 1960s and early '70s, you were an integral part of the counterculture's trickling-down influence. Hitherto square as a toddler's puzzle peg, children's TV programming radicalized not long after various sexual and social revolutions liberated their parents from larger strangulations.

Displacing innocuous slapstick pacifiers, shows were redesigned to educate and empower. Or simply be groovy, like the Sid and Marty Krofft Brit-popping Bugaloos or then-teen idol Rick Springfield's Mission: Magic! Kid Power stressed multiculturalism. Read more »

Czech it out

Beauty in Trouble is classically warm and ironic
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REVIEW An attractive 30-something woman with a face hardened by rough times — most recently the 2002 Prague flood pretty much ruining her Prague home — Marcela (Anna Geislerova) is raising two children under precarious circumstances. Marriage to Jarda (Roman Luknar) is discordant, despite their volcanic sex, in large part because she objects to his paying the bills by running a chop shop. Read more »

Sleaze, if you please

"Holiday Heat" celebrates pre-Turkey Day with porn
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Thanksgiving is a time for wholesome family togetherness. All the more reason, then, to get your sex on "Holiday Heat," a pre-Turkey Day celebration of retro sleaze. First up is freshly deceased Gerard Damiano's 1972 Devil in Miss Jones, which followed his prior year's Deep Throat as the second biggest porn movie ever. (Or at least before celebutantes like Paris Hilton and John Wayne Bobbitt crashed the market.) Throat is historic but amateur; Devil is actually kinda good. Read more »

Modern slavery

Nick Broomfield's Ghosts is a powerful and realistic look at illegal Chinese immigrants
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REVIEW Just when his once-great muckraking documentaries seem to be running on fumes (1998's Kurt and Courtney, 2002's Biggie and Tupac, etc.), Nick Broomfield has reinvented himself as a narrative director — a role he previously tried and bombed at in 1989's pretentious murder mystery Dark Obsession. Made before his terrific 2007 Iraq War docudrama, Battle for Haditha (which briefly played at the Roxie this year), but only released here now, Ghosts (2006) isn't quite that film's equal. But it's still powerful and realistic. Read more »

I can't get over you

Monks: The Transatlantic Feedback celebrates tonsure rock
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Few passions are more reckless than those of the '60s garage-rock completist, so that just about any band that had one good song on a Nuggets compilation automatically becomes somebody's idea of way better than those boring, overrated Beatles. Read more »

The trouble with hairy

The Werewolf of Washington: crude, sloppy, aesthetically ugly, deliberately ridiculous, and hilarious
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HALLOWEEN SCREENING What's most shocking about Oliver Stone's W. — beyond anything in the too-mild movie itself — is that it's simply dramatizing a still-seated US president. That still feels like a breach in our near-extinct public decorum, however much Shrub has degraded the office's dignity.

Yet there's precedent: one prior era brought a slew of movies about its Disaster-in-Chief. Once Watergate broke, filmmakers from late radical-left documentarian Emile de Antonio to future Roller Boogie (1979) director Mark L. Read more »