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Swing the Body Electric

Mass appeal: from Mes Petites Amoureuses
photo: The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Mass appeal: from Mes Petites Amoureuses

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Jean Eustache Retrospective: Blue-Collar Dandy
Walter Reade Theater
Through November 9

The Legend of Bagger Vance
Directed by Robert Redford
Written by Jeremy Leven from the novel by Steven Pressfield
A Dreamworks release
Opens November 3

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Smith delivers such inspirational nuggets with a casual grace that makes them less embarrassing than they appear on the page. Indeed, this is a film filled with graceful performances, graceful camerawork, graceful art direction, graceful sound design, and graceful everything else. It's also something of a personal film, because Damon's vocal delivery and physical mannerisms—not to mention his blue eyes and golden hair—are so reminiscent of Redford, and because it references half a dozen Redford films from The Natural to The Great Gatsby to The Horse Whisperer. I would be dishonest if I didn't admit to being choked up by the way the light filtered through the trees in conjunction with all that talk about the mystery of the creative process. But for the most part, The Legend of Bagger Vance is more mushy than mystical. Redford's authentic swing has a harder edge. It takes material like Ordinary Peopleor Quiz Showto bring it to the fore.

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