Jeff Garland

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WALL-E Review


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And the bar gets raised even higher.

Right around the time Pixar Animation Studios released its fifth feature, Finding Nemo, conversation shifted from "Is it any good?" to "Just how amazing is it?" Quality was assumed, and rightfully so. The studio's creative directors helped redefine the animation genre with the Toy Story franchise, A Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc. Subsequent Pixar stories were measured against their predecessors and ranked accordingly.

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Full Frontal Review


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After going from esoteric art house darling to Oscar-winning mainstream mogul without losing his soul, it was probably inevitable that Steven Soderbergh would eventually make an industry farce -- and "Full Frontal" is the consummate ironic marriage of his two worlds.

The cinematic equivalent of an Escher painting, it's movie within a movie within a movie within a movie that keeps folding in on itself. Low-budget ($2 million) but awash in big names (Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, David Duchovny), it's also a joke within a joke within a joke. Sometimes the joke is on Hollywood mucky-mucks. Sometimes the joke is on fans of his mainstream success ("Erin Brockovich," "Ocean's Eleven"). And sometimes the joke is on art film snobs who can't understand why Soderbergh, the artuer behind left-field flicks like "Schitzopolis," "The Limey" and "sex, lies & videotape," would have ever "gone Hollywood" to begin with.

On one level "Full Frontal" is an over-lit, digi-video, fly-on-the-wall guerilla-style picture following several cross-pollinating characters both inside and on the fringes of the filmmaking industry. David Hyde Pierce plays a melancholy milksop writer for Los Angeles Magazine whose first screenplay is being produced. Catherine Keener is his petulant, borderline-lunatic wife, a human resources director who torments nervous employees in erratic, interrogation-style interviews by day, and by night becomes a Hollywood hanger-on with delusions of significance. Mary McCormack plays her sister, a manicly depressed massage therapist who gets sexually harassed by a bigwig movie producer (David Duchovny), who wants help with his autoerotic fantasies.

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