The Movie Review

Brian Clough is a legend among English soccer managers. He was the youngest coach in the league when, at 30, he took over Hartlepools United in 1965. In the early 1970s, he lifted a mediocre Derby County team from the Second Division to champion of the First, playing in a European Cup semifinal along the way. And in the late 1970s, he took an obscure Nottingham Forest squad all the way to back-to-back European Cup trophies, a feat considered one of the greatest in the history of the sport.

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Near the end of Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are, as young protagonist Max is abandoning the fantastical creatures who have crowned him their king, the Wild Things plead, “Oh please don’t go--we’ll eat you up--we love you so.” The line neatly captures one of the central insights of Sendak’s slim masterwork: the close proximity in the preadolescent mind between affection and aggression, between the loving and the eating. Spike Jonze’s film adaptation, which he co-wrote with Dave Eggers, expands Sendak’s tale considerably, but rather than lose track of this insight, the movie

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The wittiest scene in Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2001 film The Man Who Wasn’t There is one in which a fast-talking defense attorney, Freddy Riedenschneider (marvelously played by Tony Shalhoub), invokes Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle as grounds for a not-guilty verdict in a murder case: We can’t know what really happened.… Because the more you look, the less you know. But the beauty of it is, we don't gotta know! We just gotta show that, goddamnit, they don't know. Reasonable doubt. Science. The atom. You explain it to me.

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Zombieland, the second horror-comedy to be released in the last couple of weeks (in this case, horror-action-comedy is probably a more apt description),is everything Jennifer's Body was not--fast, funny, and fully aware of the obligations and opportunities inherent in the genre.

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Way back in 1980, when the Oscar-winning theme song of the movie Fame declared "I'm gonna live forever," it was easy to believe the lyric was an example of artistic license. Now, it's not so clear. With almost Biblical tenacity, the film begat a television series which begat a stage musical which begat a reality show. When that last iteration was cancelled after a single season in 2003, it was possible to imagine that the longest 15 minutes in show business history had finally ticked to a close.

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So this is what Matt Damon has been keeping bottled up during all those taciturn hours playing Jason Bourne. In Steven Soderbergh's The Informant!, Damon plays--and plays very, very well--a character in every way the opposite of his efficient, amnesiac superspy: a babbling bumbler who goes undercover for the FBI to gather information against his own employer but winds up exposing mostly himself.

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"Hell is a teenage girl," Jennifer's Body announces in its opening moments. But the film's thesis is really more particular: Hell is a teenage girl who has been unsuccessfully sacrificed to Satan by an alt-rock band and, as a result, finds that she has become a flesh-eating demon. It's a difficult case to contest. After a brief prologue that finds the movie's good-girl protagonist, Needy Lesnicky (Amanda Seyfried), kicking ass and taking names in a penitentiary somewhere, the movie rewinds to explain how she arrived at this unhappy juncture.

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There is a moment in the first scene of Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds that is not what it appears to be. A Nazi colonel named Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) is interviewing a French farmer (Denis Menochet) he believes to be sheltering Jews. Landa is conducting the inquiry in more than passable French (yes, with subtitles and everything), when he pauses. He's come to the limits of his francais, he claims. Does the farmer speak English and, if so, might they continue in that tongue?

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It's taken countless hours of TV crime-drama ("Crime Story," "Miami Vice") and nearly a dozen feature films (Heat, Collateral, Miami Vice again), but in John Dillinger, Michael Mann may finally have found an ideal vessel for his particular vision of masculine cool: stylish, charismatic, unflappable, adept at violence but not hungry for it. After spending nine years in prison for his rookie robbery (a grocery-store heist that allegedly netted him $50), Dillinger emerged in May 1933 to launch perhaps the most storied crime spree in American history.

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The new Transformers movie is two-and-a-half hours long. I'm going to write that sentence again, if I may, because it is a reality I find only slightly less confounding than I would the arrival on this planet of actual alien robots inclined to disguise themselves as backhoes and eighteen-wheelers: The new Transformers movie is two-and-a-half hours long. Who imagined that this would be a good idea? Director Michael Bay's enthusiasm for his sequel, the full title of which is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, is perhaps comprehensible.

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