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Double Trouble

Shot largely from a child's perspective, punctuated by radio bulletins on a soccer match between South Korea and Iran, The Mirror is so concentrated in its elements and so single-minded in its narrative as to be practically a structural film. Nothing, however, is as insistent as Mina's high-pitched, piercing voice—at once admirable and grating in its constant interrogation of grown-up authority.

Pre-wedding jitters: Favreau in Very Bad Things
Robert Zuckerman
Pre-wedding jitters: Favreau in Very Bad Things

Details

Very Bad Things
Written and directed by Peter Berg
A Polygram Films release
Opens November 25

The Mirror
Written and directed by Jafar Panahi
A Cowboy Booking
International release
At the Walter Reade
November 25, 29, and 30, December 1

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The Walter Reade's Iranian show is scarcely the only series to give The Mirror context. New York's ongoing film festival includes several retrospectives that would provide a parallel grounding. MOMA's "Cinema Novo and Beyond" is showcasing the most extensive of post-neorealist Third World cinema movements, while this weekend the Guggenheim is screening the cinema verité template Chronicle of a Summer and a new wave tale of a woman in the city, Cleo From 5 to 7. Back downtown, John Cassavetes's second retro in 15 months starts Friday at Anthology Film Archives. Cassavetes, of course, is the patron saint of actor-driven, documentary-style narrative filmmaking. While The Mirror is a sort of critique of Cassavetes naturalism, it's disconcerting to think what he might have made of a script like Very Bad Things.

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