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A Destroyer Of Worlds

Documentary Film: ‘In My Lifetime’
compass@lakevillejournal.com

Among the movies at FilmColumbia’s annual festival, Oct. 19-23 in Chatham, NY, is Robert Frye’s sobering “In My Lifetime.”
This part-time resident of Millerton presents a disturbing history of nuclear weapons and the grim prospects for life on earth if nuclear weapons are not dismantled and their production halted. Entirely.
The early minutes include a clip of Robert Oppenheimer, the American physicist who headed the Manhattan project in Los Alamos where the first atomic bomb was built, “The Gadget,” an odd, bulky, inexpert round of metal nailed and chained and taped together.

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Where Movies Can Start Out

Movie Scene: FilmColumbia

Calliope Nicholas — she pronounces it “CAL-e-ope,” rhyming with hope — makes no bones about the FilmColumbia festival.
“Our lineup of movies is the best,” she says proudly.
She may be right.
Entering its 12th year, FilmColumbia has screened some of the top films of the past decade, before they achieved mass distribution and widespread acclaim. Last year alone, the festival showed “The Debt,” “127 Hours,” “Black Swan,” and three other films that went on to garner Oscar nominations or awards.

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Beating the Odds

Movies: ‘50/50’

You may think you’ve seen enough cancer melodramas — “Restless” or “Terms of Endearment.” But “50/50” rises above those hackneyed and conventional tear jerkers to deliver an honest, compassionate, unsentimental look at a young man facing his own mortality too soon.
It’s also very funny.

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No Explosions, Just a Great Movie

Movies: 'Moneyball'
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball” is a solid account of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball club, and how he used a statistical technique called “sabermetrics” to create a winning team with a payroll roughly one fourth the size of the New York Yankees’. Bill James, inventor of sabermetrics (from the acronym for the Society of American baseball Research), published, back in the 1980s, a yearly book called the Baseball Abstract. As a fan, I used to grab it as soon as it appeared in the bookstores.

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Fine Performances, Muddled Film

Movies: ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

It’s a clichéd, tiresome vehicle, nonetheless,“I Don’t Know How She Does It” allows Sarah Jessica Parker to parade her singular energetic dizziness.
Occasionally charming, frequently tedious and mostly meaningless, the movie tries hard to reproduce Allison Pearson’s gangbuster chick-lit novel of 2002, a sporadically trenchant look at the life of Kate Eddy, a London investment manager.

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Beware Germs and Bloggers

At the Movies

The first hour of “Contagion,” the new movie by Steven Soderburgh, is as taut and terrifying as any horror movie or thriller I’ve ever seen.
After a prologue in which only a few hoarse coughs are heard, it starts with “Day 2” typewritten on the screen, as Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), looking a bit green about the gills, talks on the phone to an unseen lover. Sweaty and pale, she completes her business trip in Hong Kong and heads home, by way of Chicago, to Minneapolis, where her young son and husband await her.

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Taut, Well-Made, And Disappointing

Movies: 'The Debt'

Somewhat inauspiciously named, “The Debt” has nothing to do with that thing our elected officials have been arguing about for the past year.
It does, however, have all the makings of a good, taut thriller. It has an impressive cast with an international pedigree (well, mostly impressive, but more on that later), splendid locations, World War II resonance and plenty of visceral, heart-pounding action.
All it lacks is a plausible plot.

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Horrifying Past, Muddled Present

Movies: ‘Sarah’s Key’

This is two films, “Sarah’s Key.” One is about French collaboration with the Nazis during the Holocaust, the other is a tale of trans-Atlantic yuppie angst.
Julia (Kristin Scott Thomas) is a magazine writer with a hell of a story to tell — how Parisian Jews were rounded up by the French authorities in the summer of 1942, herded into a sports arena, then into camps, and finally shipped east.

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A Few Days Too Many

Movies: ‘One Day’

The day in “One Day” is July 15, when Emma and Dexter, about to graduate from college, tumble into bed, grope awkwardly but venture no further, and declare that they will “just be friends.” From there the date — St. Swithin’s Day, when the English look for signs of what their weather will be for the next 40 days of summer — becomes the film’s conceit: Emma and Dex will meet or talk every July 15.

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From Judy and Mickey To Finn and Rachel

Movies: ‘Glee: The 3D Concert Movie’

Every generation has its singing, dancing teenagers. Judy and Mickey, Frankie and Annette, Vanessa and Zac, seeking love and, often, stardom. For my generation it was the talented students of “Fame.” We wanted to be them, and we certainly tried to be like them, if my memory of dancing on the cafeteria tables while a student banged out “Hot Lunch” on the piano in 10th grade is accurate.

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