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THE LIVES OF OTHERS
With the Berlin Film Festival almost upon us, one of the their most celebrated titles of last year, The Lives Of Others, finally lands on US shores. Having gained momentum with a rapturous critical response and an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, Lives is the tale of a long time couple, a dramatist and an actress, who are part of the intelligentsia elite of their socialist state in the East Berlin of the 1984. But when the Minister of Culture becomes enamored of the actress, and begins spying on the couple, their loyalties to each other and to East Berlin are called into question. Like Goodbye, Lenin! before it, The Lives Of Others deftly balances the inherent humour and pathos that romance and politics can create.

HANNIBAL RISING
Hannibal is back! Well, sort of… There’s no Anthony Hopkins this time, as we go back to Lecter’s youth to trace the experiences that made him the monster we know and fear, from his World War II childhood in Lithuania, to his time as a teenager living in Paris with his late uncle’s widow Lady Murasaki Shikibu (Gong Li), and finally his first years in America. Despite this being outright Hollywood fare, Hannibal Rising has a strong arthouse cachet: Lecter is played by Gaspar Ulliel (who came to prominence as Audrey Tatou’s love interest in A Very Long Engagement), there is solid supporting cast of British actors (Rhys Ifans, Dominic West, Kevin McKidd), and the film is directed by Peter Webber, who wowed the critics with his debut feature, Girl with a Pearl Earring. File alongside Butch and Sundance: The Early Days and Exorcist: The Beginning.

VIVA PEDRO!
If you missed it in theaters late last year (or if you just want to build up your home library) out on DVD is the Pedro Almodóvar Classics Collection. Released by Sony Pictures Classics, the eight films include Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), All About My Mother (1999), Talk to Her (2002), Flower of My Secret (1995), Live Flesh (1996), Law of Desire (1987), Matador (1986) and Bad Education (2004). It is a must have for the Almodóvar fan.

 
     
 

FASCINATING FASCINATION
Steve Loff and Prichard Smith, the filmmakers behind Mr. Fascination, a doc in post-production, have launched a MySpace page full of clips and info about their film, which tells the story of a man obsessed with a vintage boardwalk game...

 
     

ONCE BOUGHT BY FOX SEARCHLIGHT
Ann Thompson is reporting that Fox Searchlight has bought Sundance audience fave Once. The no-budget Irish musical (it was made for a reported $100,000) features members of the band The Frames, which director John Carney played bass in in the early '90s...

Read the complete stories at Filmmakermagazine's Blog...

   

AFTERSHOCKS - BY HOWARD FEINSTEIN
Karen Moncrieff’s The Dead Girl examines the emotional repercussions of a prostitute’s murder on five troubled L.A. women.

When a performer moves behind the camera, it’s often a dodgy proposition. An actor on mostly forgettable soaps and drama series in the ’80s and ’90s, Karen Moncrieff is more than an exception; having made just two features, she’s become a star filmmaker...

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