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Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015
As the awards season prepares to wind down, Short Ends and Leader sizes up those not in Academy competition with our annual preferential picks.

By all accounts, this will be one of the most competitive Oscars ever. Few categories are outright locks, Best Supporting Actress and Actor aside, and the Guilds have been split, with the majority leaning toward Birdman even as Boyhood continues to earn an equal amount of love. Of course, there are those who believe American Sniper can and will pull an upset, while those who favor Selma or any other member of the rest of the Best Picture candidates (The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Whiplash), sans a major last minute push, will be left wanting.

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Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015
Clint Eastwood's look at Chris Kyle's legacy as American's deadliest marksman claimed its first Awards Season victim: the other war story.

This past weekend, as it slowly slinks past the $300 million mark at the box office and prepares to play (possible) spoiler to Boyhood and Birdman at this year’s Academy Awards, American Sniper remains one of the most talked about and controversial films of 2014.

Telling the supposedly true tale of America’s deadliest marksman, Chris Kyle (the film is based on his autobiography) and showing the hardship both abroad and at home for such men, director Clint Eastwood redeemed himself after the disastrous Jersey Boys to prove that, when it comes to mindless jingoism and fake babies, nobody does it better than the aging icon.

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Monday, Feb 16, 2015
by Steve Leftridge and Steve Pick
Marishka had a little lamb, and everywhere that Ivan went Marishka seemed to go. This week's Double Take tries to untangle Sergei Parajanov's Soviet masterpiece of color, culture, and calamity.

In Sergei Parajanov’s bleak, fatalistic tale, the window of grace provided for children to be children in post-war Russia is always too brief.

Steve Leftridge: Wild Horses of Fire! Where do we start with a film so stuffed with narrative, cultural, symbolic, and medulla-oblongata-curving technique? Perhaps we should start with a reminder that director Sergei Parajanov, a giant of Soviet cinema, did some serious time in labor camps for making Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors—and other pictures like it—due to his subversion of the old Soviet Union’s mandate that all art should fit neatly into the category of socialist realism. (This imprisonment happened despite worldwide protests from other filmmakers.) Once the ‘80s and Glasnost rolled around, Parajanov was free, but he didn’t live much longer, broken as he was by a lifetime of persecution. Now, however, he’s honored with statues and his own museum in Russia. They even named an asteroid after him.

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Thursday, Feb 12, 2015
This movie, which mines the dated territory of professor/student relationships, trivializes education while looking swank.

Abby Abbott (Loretta Young) is a chic widow on New York’s Fifth Avenue, beyond the means of her dividend checks. So that she can continue to pay bills, including her 17 year old daughter’s college tuition, Abby decides to take advantage of a $3,000 scholarship endowed to the college by her own grandmother for students called Abigail Fortitude, Abby’s maiden name. Having married at 16, Abby hadn’t taken up the chance, and neither had her mother, who married at 17. Now her grandmother’s desire to provide for her female descendants’ education will finally bear fruit, if only for temporary financial reasons.

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Tuesday, Feb 10, 2015
This Alain Robbe-Grillet film can get under the skin of anyone susceptible to its languid spell.

Last year, several of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s surreal erotic puzzles were released on DVD and Blu-ray by Redemption. Now, Olive Films has released one of his last films, La Belle Captive, which harks back to his debut with L’immortelle 20 years earlier. The male leads are similar, and both involve the hero’s obsession with a woman who might be a ghost, with both having a traffic accident motif. One of the main differences is that the later film opens the possibility that the hero might also be a ghost, perhaps one of those he’s told walk the streets disguised as the living.

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