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City Limits

Despite (and ultimately because of) its heavy-handedness, The City is an old-fashioned monument to immigrant courage, and as such, it succeeds in making the invisible evident. The sweatshop where much of the final episode is set is a location more horrific than any of the various rubble-strewn lots. Riker links his four stories with scenes in a Queens photo studio where immigrants come for ID pictures or portraits to send home. Nothing in The City is more haunting than the rapt close-ups of these stoical faces.

North by Northwest, installed at Film Forum for a two-week run, is Alfred Hitchcock's ultimate wrong-man comedy. An empty Brooks Brothers suit (played with splendid insouciance by Cary Grant) is pushed further into the void when he inadvertently assumes the identity of a nonexistent secret agent. Thus cast in a role he cannot understand, the Grant character is a superb textual effect whose fantastic misadventures include the most bravura piece of editing in the Hitchcock oeuvre— the nearly silent rendezvous with himself in the horrifying vacuum of a midwestern cornfield.

Goth rag doll meets IKEA boy: Bonham Carter and Norton in Fight Club.
photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox
Goth rag doll meets IKEA boy: Bonham Carter and Norton in Fight Club.

Details

Fight Club
Directed by David Fincher
Written by Jim Uhls from the novel by Chuck Palahniuk
A Twentieth Century Fox release

The City
Written and directed by David Riker
A Zeitgeist release Opens October 22

North By Northwest
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Ernest Lehman
A Warner Bros. Classics release
At Film Forum Through November 2

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Released late-summer 1959, this saga of a stranger in a strange land was still playing when Nikita Khrushchev became the first Soviet leader to tour the U.S. (His trip included several of the movie's locations.) Hitch was right on time— and anticipated James Bond by several years— in treating the Cold War as a form of Pop Art. Indeed, more matter-of-factly outrageous than the makers of Fight Club, Hitchcock drafted our sacred Mount Rushmore as the stage upon which his hero might resolve his Oedipal scenario.

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