By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Edward Yang won the Best Director prize at Cannes for this clear-eyed domestic epic, set amid Taipei's alienated middle class. Yang's steady, compassionate gaze never simplifies the messy detailsdaily life is presented as a series of daunting choices, suppressed regrets, and quiet epiphanies.
In the Mood for Love
Chinese director Lou Ye reprises Vertigowith a stylish, circuitous tale of obsessive love and a bewigged doppelgänger. At their best the playful narrative ruses and keening romanticism evoke vintage Wong Kar-wai.
Korean iconoclast Jang Sun Woo takes an unblinking look at a sadomasochistic relationship between a schoolgirl and a fortyish sculptor. A sly, candid anatomy of sexual desire, it's at once perceptive, moving, queasy, and comically relentless.
Philip Kaufman hopefully eschews the louche middlebrow titillations of Henry and June for a no-holds-barred Sade biopic, with Geoffrey Rush (who warmed up for the part in Elizabeth), Kate Winslet (likewise as the profane earth goddess in Holy Smoke), and Joaquin Phoenix (ditto as the sex-crazed, epicene tyrant in Gladiator).
Steven Soderberghpost Erin B., no longer an auteurist's best-kept secret but one of Hollywood's most bankable directorstakes on a drug-wars chronicle that originated as a Channel 4 miniseries. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones might seem like stunt casting, but he's also enlisted two of Hollywood's sharpest marksmen, Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro.
Shadow of the Vampire
The year's supreme metamovie, about real vampire Max Schreck devouring the cast and crew of Murnau's Nosferatu. As Schreck, Willem Dafoe gives the performance of his career: perfectly mimicked, hilarious, and sad.
No Jennifer Lopez, no kinky neck braces, no albino dogs, but the fall's token serial-killer entry is at least idiosyncratically cast. Keanu Reeves stretches (in theory) as a clue-dropping murderer, with James Spader's FBI agent in hot pursuit.
Its ambitious, shifty framework of reconstructed urban myths doesn't quite prevent Jon Shear's moody study of bereavement from ending up in a quagmire of clichés, but it's a noble failure, especially compared to most of this year's Sundance product.
In Cameron Crowe's self-mythol-ogizing coming-of-age navel-gaze, a teen scribe follows a (fictional) band on the road for a Rolling Stone piece, and everyone concerned learns a valuable life lesson or two.
48 HRS redux, though with an under?$40 million budget and should-be-a-megastar Jamie Foxx, you want to root for it anyway.
Crime & Punishment in Suburbia
Goya in Bordeaux
Carlos Saura, still winding his way through traveloguing Spanish music and culture, directs this biopic of the painter looking back on his life from a self-imposed French exile.
Gritty but predictably shaped French melodrama about a biz-school grad returning home to update the factory in which his father works. Laurent Cantent directs with a mostly non-pro cast.
Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kinder Transport
Looks like a feature-length episode of a Latina edition of The View.
On the Run
Childhood buddies go nuts in the course of one long night in New York City.
The Price of Air
More fucked-up suburbanites. Is there any other kind?
Chain of Fools
A struggling single mom struggles to support her struggling sickly son. Will have its broadcast premiere on Lifetime, probably.
Former New Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre attempts a comeback with this musical, which has been collecting dust for five years now.
A philosophy student's worldview is tested by difficult relations with her parents, who are Holocaust survivors, and her employers, a Hasidic Jewish family (including matriarch Isabella Rossellini).
The second British flick of the year to mine the bottomless hilarity of hairstyling contests.