“State of Siege”: What came after “Z” for Costa-Gavras


“Governments may change. But the police remain.”

That line seems chilling, a blood-curdlingly neat summation of the politics of repression and control in regimes everywhere. But what’s unsettling about how the line is delivered in Costa-Gavras’ “State of Siege” is that the speaker doesn’t mean to be sinister. A “consultant” for Latin American police departments working on behalf of the CIA, he’s merely describing his business, and how business is always good.

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Instant Gratification: “High Fidelity” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix Instant


Pick of the week: “High Fidelity — Lloyd Dobler will always be the iconic John Cusack role, but running a close second is a thirtysomething Chicago record store owner who finally learns he can achieve maturity and true love without giving up his massive record collection. Whitney Houston fans might not be so enamored, however, especially with Jack Black’s star-making role as a judgmental employee.

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“I’ll See You In My Dreams”: Life begins at 40 . . . and 50, and 60, and 70 . . .

I'll See You in My Dreams Blythe Danner and Sam Elliott

“I’ll See You In My Dreams” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. PG-13, 1:35, three stars out of four.

Like its main character, “I’ll See You In My Dreams” takes a little while to let us in. Carol (Blythe Danner) is a widow living a comfortable life alone in Los Angeles, her solitary life around her arranged just as she pleases. Her old friends (Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place, June Squibb) urge her to move into their retirement community — not because she needs to be looked after, but because it’s more fun than living alone.

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Instant Gratification: “Nightcrawler” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix Instant


Pick of the week: “Nightcrawler — The thing is, he’s not wrong. The freelance crime scene photographer Jake Gyllenhaal plays in this creepy thrill may be a total sociopath, profiting off other people’s miseries and even adding to them (or at least staging them) if it makes for a better shot. But he’s taking the principles of free-market-capitalism and entrepreneurship to its logical extremes — even if those extremes include murder. Great film.

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“Magician”: A Workman-like study of Orson Welles’ genius

MAGICIAN - 2014 FILM STILL - Orson Welles - Photo Credit: Cohen Media Group

MAGICIAN – 2014 FILM STILL – Orson Welles – Photo Credit: Cohen Media Group

Comedian Todd Barry uploaded a video to YouTube recently. It was a 1982 clip of David Letterman calling an 18-year-old Barry as part of a “Viewer Mail” segment. What’s fascinating about the clip is that, as a teenager, Barry acts and sounds pretty much exactly like the extraordinarily dry, sarcastic stand-up comedian he is now. It was all already there, in a teenage boy living outside Fort Lauderdale, waiting to be developed and discovered.
Chuck Workman’s Orson Welles’ documentary “Magician” isn’t a great film – I’m tempted to call it “Workman-like” for its dutiful arrangement of film clips and talking heads interviews. The film played at the Wisconsin Film Festival and is now out on Blu-ray from Cohen Media. But it’s fascinating to see that Welles was Welles well before “War of the Worlds” and “Citizen Kane.” And he was Welles long after the world wanted Welles.

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“Slow West”: Oh give me a home, where the kiwi roam


“Slow West” is now playing on DirecTV and on video-on-demand. R, 1:24, three and a half stars out of four.

The movie is filmed in New Zealand, starring two Australian actors and an Irish actor, and was written and directed by a Scotsman.
So, of course, “Slow West” is a Western.

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Instant Gratification: “Hits” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix Instant

The Frozen

Pick of the week: “HitsMy full review is here. “Mr. Show” co-creator David Cross is making the transition from young comedy upstart to cranky old man gracefully. He’s the writer-director of this scathing satire of “instant celebrity” culture in which no one is spared, from a teen girl who will do anything to be a pop star to a disgruntled man who becomes the flashpoint of a viral political movement.

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