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The Swell Season (NR)


When Irish musician Glen Hansard and Czech musician Markéta Irglová starred in the musical Once in 2006 — an overwhelming film that follows their fictional love affair — they earned an Oscar. The problem is, they actually fell in love, and kept making music together as the Swell Season. This hauntingly photographed documentary traces their romance and the pressures of living up to their fairy-tale origins. Scenes of fans imploring them to stay together forever, to keep the story unspoiled, illustrate decisively how unlikely that is to happen. As Irglová chafes against fans' needs and demands, her efforts to hold onto the magic grow increasingly futile; Hansard's inner busker is simply insurmountable, even as the knowledge that it will lead to his loneliness eats at him. The shared melancholy is infectious. — Justin Strout

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Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (NR)

Music Box Films

Serge Gainsbourg was probably the most unlikely star pop music ever produced: a French Jew persecuted during World War II not only by Nazis, but also by his own peers for being, in their words, "ugly." He used all that bitterness to rise to the top of the international charts with salacious songs like "Je T'Aime ... Moi Non Plus," as well as becoming notorious for his Svengali-like hold on sex symbols such as Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin. This masterful 2010 biopic (finally receiving a U.S. release) is a respectfully inventive look at his life, one that revels in his warts and celebrates them. Gainsbourg was proud of his imperfections, all a part of who he was; to sugarcoat any of this would have been an offensive desecration. To pull the title from one of his biggest hits, Gainsbourg is truly a requiem pour un con. — Louis Fowler

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The Killing: The Complete First Season (NR)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

When AMC's The Killing — based on the acclaimed Danish show — first hit the airwaves, it was compared to Twin Peaks, and I was all like, "Yeah!" But then I watched the series and saw it fall victim to the same need to stretch the plot out that Twin Peaks did, and I was like, "Hmmm ..." And then I made it through Season One, hoping to see the thing wrap up tightly, and I was left with a very grumpy, "Huh?" And that's too bad, because The Killing features uniquely flawed, three-dimensional characters — their stories evolving around a single Seattle murder — who haven't really been seen outside of an Abel Ferrara movie, let alone in a mainstream TV show. But for the amount of time and investment, there is just too little payoff. All I can hope is that Season Two will improve upon the formula. — Louis Fowler

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