Parting Shots

Time Regained On his deathbed, Marcel Proust recollects a life that is inseparable from his autobiographical novel Remembrance of Things Past. Raul Ruiz negotiates this tricky conceit with intelligence and aplomb. It helps enormously that the drawing rooms where Proust hangs out are populated by such charismatic actors as John Malkovich (surprisingly discreet as Charlus), Pascal Greggory, Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuele Béart, and Vincent Perez. September 30 and October 2. (AT)

Boys Don't Cry One from the heartland, Kimberly Peirce's very accomplished first feature sets the taboo-breaking, gender-confounding Brandon Teena story in a near-magical realm of rich, saturated colors and velvet honky-tonk nights. The movie is a real roman candle-the writing is so adroit, the performances so nuanced, and the material so compelling that one barely notices the tendentious flags that start to wave as the movie approaches its horrifying denouement. October 1 and 2. A Fox Searchlight release, opening October 8. (JH)

Being John Malkovich A greasy-looking John Cusack, married to an unrecognizably dowdy Cameron Diaz, plays a put-upon puppeteer who tunnels into the head of John Malkovich (the man himself, gamely deconstructing his own freak-icon appeal). Spike Jonze's insane, ingenious first feature more than delivers on the promise of his whacked-out music videos; think of it as a pomo pop parody of a Czech surrealist allegory. USA Films releases it next month. October 1 and 2. (Dennis Lim)

Horse latitudes: License To Live
photo courtesy of the 37th New York Film Festival
Horse latitudes: License To Live

Details

The 37th New York Film Festival
At Alice Tully Hall
September 24 through October 10

Topsy Turvy Just about the least likely project imaginable, gritty populist Mike Leigh's 160-minute celebration of Gilbert and Sullivan is an unexpected triumph. Shot without a single exterior, this is a superbly entertaining analysis of theatrical artifice. Not just Leigh's best movie since Naked, it's enough to make you rethink his whole career. USA will be releasing it for Christmas. October 2 and 3. (JH)

Juha Turning back the hands of time, Aki Kaurismäki makes the third movie version of a classic Finnish novel-as it might have been shot in 1925. The stark tale of a peasant girl betrayed is too broadly acted to evoke fully the lost world of silent cinema but, thanks in good measure to Anssi Tikanmäki's lyrical score, this experiment is far from a disaster. October 2. (JH)

Pripyat Premillennial but postapocalyptic, this beautifully shot and eerily restrained documentary takes its title from the long-evacuated town closest to Chernobyl. Austrian filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter explores the contaminated zone, interviewing the "autonomous returnees," inspecting the radioactive junkyards, and touring the overgrown ruins of this modern Pompeii. The movie's artfulness and pervasive bleak humor make the experience all the more disconcerting. October 3. (JH)

Rosetta Surprise winner at Cannes, the Dardenne brothers' follow-up to their 1997 La Promesse is an even more rough-and-tumble meditation on the Belgian lower depths. Given its ellipses and repetitions, this tale of a teenage girl's desire for a real job in a rejecting world could be described as a Marxist remake of Robert Bresson's Mouchette. USA will be releasing it this fall. October 3 and 4. (JH)

Dogma Kevin Smith was paying attention in parochial school. This cheerfully vulgar, intermittently visionary, and too characteristically garrulous mix of low comedy and high concept manages to travesty the angelic flights of Wings of Desire as well as the comic-book cosmology of The Matrix. Dogma is one of the most devoutly Catholic movies this side of paradise-and one of the funniest. Having taken the film off Disney's hands, Lions Gate plans a November release. October 4 and 5. (JH)

Pola X The hero's publisher labels his new novel "a raging morass" and the same could be said of Leos Carax's update of Herman Melville's metaphysical novel Pierre, or the Ambiguities. Eric Gauthier's cinematography is wildly romantic except when it lapses into perfume-ad clichés. Not to be missed is one of the most rapturous bedroom scenes ever committed to celluloid-it's all the more effective because it's so dark you have to imagine most of what's happening. October 5 and 6. (AT)

Set Me Free The family in Lea Pool's autobiographical account of a Montreal girl's coming of age is distinguished by a blend of working-class deprivation and bohemian disorder. The movie isn't tragic so much as mysteriously sad. Buffetted by her emotionally unstable, unmarried parents, Pool's 13-year-old alter ego takes her cues from the movies. The setup suggests The 400 Blows, although the nouvelle vague movie that Set Me Free fetishizes is My Life To Live. October 6 and 7. (JH)

A Visitor From the Living In a 65-minute outtake from Shoah, Claude Lanzmann interviews a former International Red Cross official who filed a crucial report on Theresienstadt-it failed to question the Nazi line that this was a "model ghetto." Lanzmann's probing questions reveal this seemingly admirable man's class and anti-Semitic bias against "privileged Jews" that caused him to deny to himself and the world what he saw with his own eyes. As an investigative journalist, Lanzmann is peerless. October 6 and 7, at the Walter Reade Theater. (AT)

The Other The opening scene features Professor Edward Said, the title credits are scored to George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," and the nuttiness just continues. Youssef Chahine, Egypt's prince of political pop, offers his fans a sweeping melodrama with a startlingly ecumenical vision-not to mention the usual panoply of cosmic zooms, thunderbolt gazes, and histrionic musical numbers. October 7 and 9. (JH)

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