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Raising, Not Answering, Provocative Questions

Movies: ‘A Separation’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

This stunning Iranian film, “A Separation,” by writer-director Asghar Farhadi, his fifth in nine years, won the 2012 Academy Award for best foreign film; but for my money it was simply the finest movie of the year.
It is so real that you feel you are watching life happening.
While our own politicians talk of bombing Iran, Farhadi reminds us that Iran is more than an abstraction or a problem in geopolitics. It is home to a people who endure the contradictions and absurdities of its theocracy while dealing with existential problems like people everywhere.

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A Spirited and Destructive 90 Minutes

Movies: ‘Carnage’

Roman Polanski’s “Carnage,” his film adaptation of a popular play by Yasmina Reza — “The God of Carnage” — is like a big fat curve ball: It would be difficult not to hit it out of the park. 
And so he does, thanks in large part to a stellar quartet of lead actors.
Facile comparisons to “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” aside, “Carnage” is more an updated inversion of “Lord of the Flies.” In this case, children are essentially absent, except to set the stage, and it is the world of adults that dissolves into primal chaos.

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From Folk to Baroque With Mozart in Between

The Music Scene

So much good music is happening this weekend, you’d think we had skipped ahead to the spring season, which we have, sort of.
To begin with, this weekend’s concert by Matching Orange, which is part of the Dewey Hall Folk Music Series in Sheffield, MA. This youthful and relatively new band, just two years old, brings together an appealing mix of traditional Celtic, Appalachian and Cape Breton music, as well as other folk genres. 

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It Takes a Special Audience . . .

Movies: ‘Star Wars Episode One -The Phantom Menace’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

My mind wandered a lot during the two hours and 23 minutes of the 3D revamp of George Lucas’ “Star Wars Episode One — The Phantom Menace.”
For starters, I am not entirely clear as to what “phantom menace” refers to. The menace seemed pretty above-board to me — all these little droid soldier things everywhere, plus the two Trade Federation guys with no noses.
And the fellow with the red-and-black face paint job.
Not one of these was a phantom.

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Terror in a Familiar Locale

Movies: 'The Innkeepers'
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Ti West’s “The Innkeepers” is a nice horror flick. That means that we’re not talking gallons of blood, severed limbs, gratuitous nekkidity, no plot getting in the way of the story and a choir chanting gibberish Latin.
Which is a shame, sort of, because it would have been fun to watch the audience at the Warner Theatre reacting to drive-in stuff in an Art Deco setting.
West, who shot much of “House of the Devil” in Lime Rock a few years ago, made this film entirely in Torrington.

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The Pleasure of Short, Beautiful Tales

Movies: Animated Shorts

I’ve never managed to see all the Academy Award-nominated films or performances in any category — I make my calls on Oscar night based on personal bias, just like everyone else. But this year I was able to see every nominated film in one category, animated short, because they are playing as a bill at several theaters for a short run.

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Magical and Inventive, What Film Can Be

Movies: ‘The Artist’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

In a time of bigger and louder, “The Artist” takes us to the simpler world of silent movies.
Director Michel Hazanavicius’s confection is a sweetly satisfying mix of wit, lavish production values and superb performances.

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Sometimes, A Cigar Is Just a Cigar

Movies: ‘A Dangerous Method’

 
 
Scene: Somewhere in the Tri-corner area, the offices of Sigmund Fred, renowned movie (psycho) analyst.  Enter David Cronenberg, director of “A Dangerous Method.”
  “Come in, Herr Direktor.  What seems to be the problem?”
  “Well, Doc, I heard you didn’t care much for my movie.  Is it true?”
  Stage whisper: “Didn’t care much?  Seriously?” 
Aloud: “This is about you, not me. But since you ask, it was, as we say, not so hot. Or, as you say, eine rotten tomato.”

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On a Tricky Subject

Movies: ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Stephen Daldry’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is an interesting film, part adventure story, part coming of age story, and all tearjerker.

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Streep Is Fine, And Note Perfect, In a Flawed Production

Movies: ‘The Iron Lady’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Meryl Streep gives what, for any other actress, would be the performance of a lifetime in “The Iron Lady,” a superficial, unfocused film about Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s iconic prime minister throughout the 1980s.
Hitting every line with note-perfect accent and emphasis, coiffed in Thatcher’s upswept style, moving from small-town English dowdy into, eventually, Chanel, and playing Thatcher over the 40-year span of her rise from backbencher to head of government to the throes of dementia, Streep is superb.

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