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Avalon

Barry Levinson's heartfelt autobiographical epic completes his excellent Baltimore Trilogy with profound warmth and affection, plus a deep sense of loss at the modern destruction of the family unit. As the the Krichinsky family spreads out from its urban row houses in the post-war boom of the 1950s, so do its unifying threads loosen, and not without a little help from the pervasive influence of television. Armin Mueller-Stahl stars as Sam Krichinsky, the aging president of the Krichinsky family council (and a figure modeled after Levinson's own grandfather), who revels in relating — and debating — his family history. Despite its modest scale, Avalon is sweeping, and the Krichinsky family is so vividly realized that every good time, conflict, and heartbreak feels wrenchingly personal to the audience. It's a great accomplishment for Levinson to crown his "Baltimore Trilogy" with a film well and truly deserving of company with the excellent Diner and Tin Men. Fine performances all-around by Aidan Quinn, Kevin Pollak, Elizabeth Perkins, Joan Plowright, young Elijah Wood, and Lou Jacobi, with a show-stealing Thanksgiving rant. Avalon is presented in a crisp 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and Dolby 2.0 Surround. Trailers, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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