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THE ARTIST Delightful, ingenious, funny, poignant and maybe even profound, The Artist retells the old yarn about the silent film star eclipsed by the talkies – and it does so silently, yet eloquently, in glossy black and white.

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HUGO A love letter to the art of cinema, Martin Scorsese's first foray into 3-D and children's movies follows an orphan boy who lives in a clock in the Montparnasse station and becomes involved in an adventure involving one of the master magicians of the screen, Georges Méliès.

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LE HAVRE In this note-perfect, deadpan fairy tale from Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki a French bohemian turned shoeshine man (André Wilms) and his neighbours shelter a young African refugee in a display of working-class solidarity.

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MEEK'S CUTOFF Set in mid-19th-century Oregon, this is the latest in Kelly Reichardt’s string of remarkable road movies, where the physical and mental landscapes become all of a piece, and the crossroad is that still point where lingering hope intersects with quiet desperation.

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MELANCHOLIA From its hiding place behind the sun, a cerulean planet sets out on a collision course with earth; but, in the ever-contrarian hands of director Lars von Trier, the apocalypse has never looked better, the downbeat content given an intriguingly upbeat shine.

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POETRY Lee Chang-Dong's quietly heartbreaking drama about the power of art to create imaginative sympathy follows a gentle grandmother (Yun Jung-hee) and poetry student with early stage Alzheimer's disease whose grandson has committed a horrifying crime.

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SHAME A relentless look into the psyche of a sex-addicted New Yorker, Steve McQueen’s second feature packs all the intensity (if not the resonance) of his debut in Hunger, aided by another compellingly tortured performance from Michael Fassbender.

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TAKE SHELTER A film that’s sounds the right apocalyptic trumpet call at the right time, Jeff Nichols's film features a haunting performance by Michael Shannon as an Ohio construction worker afflicted with fearful visions of a tempest that will destroy all he holds dear.

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TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Tautly directed by Tomas Alfredson and with a brilliant ensemble cast, this moody adaptation of the le Carré novel proves that, in the Cold War, the moral relativism and bureaucratic cruelties of the spy game owed nothing to James Bond and everything to Franz Kafka.

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THE TREE OF LIFE Like Paradise Lost, Terrence Malick’s original and wildly ambitious film attempts to justify the ways of God to man, with cosmological visions and a picture of the end of time. But at its heart is a portrait of a family, a tenderly observed depiction of the joys and fears of youth and a love of nature.

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