Film Previews

A rundown of the season's movies— handpicked for their potential wondrousness or probable woefulness.

Romance Catherine Breillat's strange combo of hardcore and theoretical sex is a conversation piece and then some. When the man in her bed plays hard to get, Breillat's heroine embarks on a series of more or less masochistic adventures. (AT) September 17

L'Ennui Charles Berling (as tortured as usual) and Sophie Guillemin (remarkably unselfconscious) star in Cedric Kahn's astute adaptation of a Moravia novel. (DL) October 8

The Grandfather An elderly man returns to his homeland, Spain, after the death of his son, who has left a note stating that one of his daughters is illegitimate. Mawkish, but not sticky enough to cling to Academy voters' hearts: Benigni beat out The Grandfather for Best Foreign Film last year. (JW) October 8

The Surreal Deal: Diaz and Cusack In 'Being John Malkovich'
The Surreal Deal: Diaz and Cusack In 'Being John Malkovich'

Same Old Song Alain Resnais's Dennis Potter tribute. Lots of "popular French songs." Not for all tastes. (DL) October 15

Show Me Love Retitled from the infinitely catchier Fucking Amal, this rude, sweet, funny Swedish import, without trying too hard, shames the recent crop of gay coming-of-age flicks. (DL) October 22

Princess Mononoke This second-only-to-Titanic- in-Japan anime has been bouncing around the Miramax schedule for a few years now. It's closer to Speed Racer than Akira graphically, and thwarted in its mythomaniacal nuttiness by American dubbing— Billy Bob Thornton and Claire Danes are particularly distracting. (MA) October 29

The Legend of 1900 This magical-realist fairy tale about an orphan who grows up on a trans-Atlantic ship to become a piano prodigy destined to battle keyboards with Jelly Roll Morton sounds fabulous, but it's Guiseppe Tornatore's movie, and he might make another Cinema Paradiso out of it. (MA) October 29

My Best Fiend In this documentary, Werner Herzog chronicles his relationship with his mad-professor muse and nemesis Klaus Kinski, star of many Herzog epics. (JW) November 5

Train of Life Nothing is what it seems in Radu Mihaileanu's tragicomedy about the inhabitants of an eastern European shtetl who attempt to escape deportation to the death camps by posing as Nazi soldiers. An antidote to Life Is Beautiful, it's tough and tender and lets no one off the hook. (AT) November 5

Moment of Innocence/The Silence Simultaneous releases for Mohsen Makhmalbaf's 1996 masterwork and his most recent film, about a blind 10-year-old with a heightened sense of sound. (DL) Both November 10

The Emperor and the Assassin In the 20th century B.C., a king sends his concubine (Gong Li) to a rival kingdom as a spy; she's supposed to enlist an assassin whom her ruler can conquer but instead falls in love. (JW) December 17

Related Article: The Last Picture Show

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