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'The Program': Stephen Frears cycles round the edges

Jun 29, 2016

'The Program': Stephen Frears cycles round the edges

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From the NFL’s deflated footballs to the bribery allegations besmirching Tokyo’s Olympic bid, it can feel like the entire apparatus of professional sport has become hopelessly corrupt. But are the fans also complicit? In a memorable scene during “The Program,” a zippy account of ...

Werner Penzel's art therapy for the soul

| Jun 29, 2016

Werner Penzel's art therapy for the soul

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The documentary “While We Kiss the Sky” (Japanese title “Kofuku wa Hibi no Naka Ni”) opens nationwide this weekend, and it proffers a lot of hope and optimism for the future of Japanese society. Directed by German filmmaker Werner Penzel (“Step Across the Border”) ...

Keeping it real: Naomi Kawase on filmmaking

Jun 22, 2016

Keeping it real: Naomi Kawase on filmmaking

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Naomi Kawase has always been an outlier in the Japanese film world, if a very successful one. Born and raised in Nara Prefecture, the site of Japan’s ancient capital, she started making documentaries while a student at the Osaka School of Photography in the ...

'Extraction': Mourning the career of Bruce Willis

Jun 22, 2016

'Extraction': Mourning the career of Bruce Willis

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Will Bruce Willis ever make it back to the fold of respected Hollywood action stars? Judging from his antics in his latest outing, “Extraction,” the short answer to that is a huge “No.” The long answer involves a private eulogy to an illustrious action ...

| Jun 22, 2016

'Nina' is still worth watching

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The “politically correct”(PC) left is often no better than the Christian right when it comes to looking for ways to be offended by movies. The latest victim of PC backlash is “Nina,” the film based on legendary jazz and blues singer and civil-rights icon ...

The 'Silvered Water' of 'Syria Mon Amour'

Jun 15, 2016

The 'Silvered Water' of 'Syria Mon Amour'

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“Syria Mon Amour,” the Japan title of “Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait,” is a direct homage to Alan Resnais’ 1959 classic antiwar movie “Hiroshima Mon Amour” and reflects a desire on the part of the two-person distribution team to put the film in a Japanese ...

'Creepy': It doesn't get much eerier than this

Jun 15, 2016

'Creepy': It doesn't get much eerier than this

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The title of “Creepy,” the new shocker by horror maestro Kiyoshi Kurosawa, sounds like an in-jokey self-parody. It’s like titling a new Adam Sandler comedy “Goofy” (or if you’re not feeling charitable, “Crappy”). But “Creepy,” which premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, is ...

'Irrational Man': The muddled world of Woody Allen

Jun 15, 2016

'Irrational Man': The muddled world of Woody Allen

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In the manner of Captain Renault in “Casablanca,” I was shocked — shocked! — to find so much dialogue in a modern-day movie. But then “Irrational Man” is a Woody Allen venture and, apparently, Allen is unaware, or has chosen to ignore, that couples ...

The women fighting ISIS

| Jun 15, 2016

The women fighting ISIS

The Islamic State’s organized use of social media for global recruitment and propaganda took many by surprise, but their adversaries are now hitting back. Rojava, the Kurdish-led revolutionary zone in northern Syria, has been looking to rally Western support to its cause, and its ...