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A Bad Day on The Street

Movies: 'Margin Call'

The barely-fictionalized film, “Margin Call,” about the collapse, in a single day and night, of the entire financial industry, starts as just an ordinary day in a high-profile investment bank. Three quarters of a floor of analysts have just been laid off, hustled by guards out the door, these hapless persons bearing nothing more than their family photos in cardboard boxes.

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Entertaining Movie, Great Glasses, Too

Movies: ‘The Three Musketeers’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

I was prepared to dislike Paul W.S. Anderson’s “The Three
Musketeers.” I figured video game kung fu out the wazoo, contemporary American idioms uttered by people in period costume and general cheesiness.
And I got it.
But it worked.
In a feeble effort to keep an open mind, I didn’t read up on the film, so my first surprise was receiving a pair of 3-D glasses. (Cool
frames, too, very Jean-Luc Godard circa 1964.)
I haven’t seen a 3-D flick since the “Friday the 13th” installment,

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To Some, A Mighty Passion

Movies: ‘The Big Year’

For months, the birdosphere has been anticipating “The Big Year,” the first movie reputed to take serious birding seriously ­— and probably the first to take it on at all since Alfred Hitchcock’s white-haired “ornithologist” twitted about the intelligence of Corvus brachyrynchos (the American crow) in “The Birds.”
So now that “The Big Year” has alighted in theaters, does it live up to the hopes and dreams of birders … like yours truly?
Sorry, friends, “The Big Year” lays a pretty big egg.

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Stylish, Yes, But Old

Movies: ‘The Ides of March’

A juicy political thriller is always welcome, like “The Candidate,” “Wag the Dog,” “All The President’s Men,” “The War Room.” These films give us a peek into those smoke-filled rooms and can inspire outrage, idealism and even calls to action.
“The Ides of March” has almost all the ingredients to satisfy this appetite as another political season heats up. It’s entertaining, engrossing and only disappointing when you realize that it has absolutely nothing new to say.

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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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