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Based on Susan Minot’s best-selling novel and adapted by Minot and Michael Cunningham (The Hours), Evening follows cancer patient Ann Lord as she struggles with her impending death. In her morphine-induced state she reveals to her two daughters a long-held secret about a true love from her past while her daughters wrestle with issues of their own. As part of the talented and multi-generational cast, Natasha Richardson and Mamie Gummer play the daughters of their real-life mothers, Vanessa Redgrave and Meryl Streep at different stages in life. Claire Danes and Toni Collette also star in this strikingly shot film which explores the bond between mother and daughter as it takes the audience back and forth in time.

Fredi M. Murer’s delicate film about a child prodigy’s defiance against his gift might appear to be treading on tired territory. Luckily Murer’s gift for taking a familiar story, and turning it into a compelling film that stretches beyond the typical boy-genius chronicle makes for a surprisingly touching piece of work. Vitus focuses on a young boy's struggle between the aspirations his parents have of him becoming a famous pianist and his own desires to simply be a kid. The film shies away from cliché characters such as evil parents, instead choosing an unfamiliar disposition: sweetness, to convey the true heart of the story. Best of all, the first-time actor (Teo Gheorghiu) playing the title role just so happens to be a real life musical prodigy himself.

Over at the Wholphin blog, Mike Plante has started a great, occasional series entitled "Lost Pets." It's his rescue-by-blog of worthy films from the last ten years that have drifted out of the public and industry consciousness. In his most recent entry he discusses Jennifer Shainin and Randy Walker's Apart from That: As I think about those accolades for past films, I think about APART FROM THAT from just last year. I think about it as great American cinema, made by enthusiastic filmmakers and actors and crew. I think about how it looks and sounds great, not about how much it cost or what camera they must have used. I think about how great the quirky characters are, not about the actors who portray them. Because they aren’t famous. And since they aren’t famous, and since the filmmakers aren’t known, and since the film doesn’t fit into a marketable genre, I think about how you probably haven’t seen one of the great American films from last year.


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Over at Variety, Anne Thompson has posted a link to the trailer for Margot at the Wedding, Noah Baumbach's follow-up to The Squid and the Whale. Nicole Kidman and (Baumbach's wife) Jennifer Jason Leigh play sisters Margot and Pauline, at odds over the latter's decision to marry Malcolm (Jack Black). The trailer promises another funny, bittersweet tale of familial conflict and, according to Thompson, Baumbach fans will only have to wait until fall to see the movie.

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John Dahl has unquestionable cinematic flair and a genuine talent for telling unconventional stories, yet he never set out to be a film director. Growing up in Montana in the 60s and 70s, his great passions were art and music: he studied fine art in college, then dropped out to become a commercial artist and play in rock 'n' roll bands. Still uncertain of his place in the world, he ended up at film school where he focused on directing. After graduation, he worked as an assistant director and storyboard artist in Hollywood, then began directing music promos and wrote his first film, P.I. Private Investigations (1987). He co-wrote the first two features he directed, Kill Me Again (1989) and Red Rock West (1992), both stylish neo-noirs, and gained even greater acclaim for his next film, The Last Seduction (1994). His form dipped with Unforgettable (1996), but he bounced back with two very entertaining studio pictures, Rounders (1998) and Joy Ride (2001). Both Joy Ride and his most recent film, World War II epic The Great Raid (2005), were difficult, drawn-out productions which made him decide to return to the indie fold.

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