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I Am Love

Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Gabriele Ferzetti, Marisa Berenson, Flavio Parenti, Edoardo Gabbriellini

(Magnolia Pictures)

5


I Am Love


Snow falls over the sprawling mansion of a Milanese family whose clothing factories provide the sumptuous material framing for Luca Guadagnino’s stately, elemental tale of emotional entropy. Tilda Swinton plays the Russian-reared matriarch, beautiful and graciously courtly but increasingly uncertain of herself in these baronial surroundings. The film captures the little details of family dinners and gatherings with the rigor of a sociologist, luxuriating in the old-money grandeur and beautifully recorded passing of the seasons. Guadagnino’s luscious, seasonal filming and the ululating soundtrack by John Adams have all the hallmarks of a stillborn arthouse bit of pretense. But Swinton’s unearthly presence and the Madame Bovary-like potency of her sudden fling into an uncontrollable affair—not to mention the film’s ability to spotlight (literally, in one bravura dinner scene) the story’s grace notes—brings everything to an operatic climax that is little short of annihilatory.  Chris Barsanti


 

 



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Exit Through the Gift Shop

Director: Banksy
Cast: Thierry Guetta, Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Invader, André

(Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Review [16.Apr.2010]

4


Exit Through the Gift Shop


Is it real? Fake? A clever artistic combination of the two? No matter the final conclusion, UK graffiti artist Banksy has altered the 2010 cinematic landscape with his take on the underground documentary. Spinning the story of French immigrant Thierry Guetta and his transformation from wannabe filmmaker into street art impresario “Mr. Brainwash”, the reclusive, enigmatic figure has fostered a dialogue that’s kept his creation in the Awards Season news since early March. While some can’t get over the “is it or isn’t it” ideal, there’s no denying what it truly illustrates: a slick social commentary that takes the piss out of the entire genre while reinventing its form to facilitate… a window into an unknown world?... an elaborate ruse? As with the best kind of entertainment, you end up being the best judge. Bill Gibron


 

 



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The Kids Are All Right

Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Cast: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson

(Focus Features)

3


The Kids Are All Right


The Kids Are All Right feels progressive at first because it features a well-adjusted family that just happens to have a lesbian couple as the parents. What makes Lisa Cholodenko’s film feel real, though, are the domestic issues that Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening) have to sort through. Jules is the domestic artist-type who always has a not-quite-realized dream on the horizon, while doctor Nic is the family breadwinner who eases her stress by drinking too much. When their two teenage kids contact their sperm-donor father (Mark Ruffalo), and the family gets to know him, his destabilizing presence pulls the family’s issues into the open. This film could easily have descended into too-precious melodrama, but the strong cast makes it all seem very honest and believable. It’s a small story well-told. Chris Conaton


 

 



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The Last Train Home

Director: Lixin Fan
Cast: Yang Zhang, Changhua Zhang, Suqin Chen, Qin Zhang

(Zeitgeist Films)

2


The Last Train Home


You think you’ve got it tough? Imagine being a factory worker in China who only gets to visit your family once a year, during the Lunar New Year holidays. Your children will grow up apart from you and the trip home to see them requires taking part in the world’s largest internal migration as you and 130 million other Chinese workers hit the road the same time every year. Director Lixin Fan focuses on a single family amid this human tide and captures the hardships of factory life, the insanity of the annual trip home, and the very real possibility that it might all be for nothing. Sarah Boslaugh


 

 



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Winter’s Bone

Director: Debra Granik
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Lauren Sweetser, Garret Dillahunt, Dale Dickey, Shelley Waggener

(Roadside Attractions)

1


Winter’s Bone


Calling it “hillbilly noir” is just not good enough. Sure, the main narrative drags us through the seedier side of impoverished life in the meth lab laden mountains of the Ozark, a missing person’s mystery fueling our journey. But there is more to Debra Granik’s brilliant coming of age tale than a simple story of a teenager taking control of her troubled family. There’s the concept of survival, the horrific drug-laden destruction of the people and the place, and the amazing acting turns that take what could have been a series of strident archetypes and turned them into memorable, meaningful characters. As thrilling to look at as it is to dissect and decipher, this represents the best of the independent movement, a film following its own course, and doing so definitively. Bill Gibron


 
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