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 TICKET TO JERUSALEM
Written and directed by Rashid Masharawi
Global Film Initiative
November 19 through 25, MOMA Gramercy

Movies that champion the restorative powers of cinema are usually treacly endurance tests, but Rashid Masharawi's warm yet clear-eyed Ticket to Jerusalem—which gets a run as part of MOMA's Global Lens series—largely sidesteps sentiment in favor of a tentative hopefulness. Shot on video amid the West Bank's oppressive scree (which cameraman Baudoiun Koenig gives a discordant majesty), Ticket follows Jaber (Ghassan Abbas), an unemployed Palestinian who finds purpose in carting around a monstrous projector and showing films in the region's refugee camps. Almost everyone finds his devotion to movies in the midst of chaos suspect, including his wife, Sana (Areen Omary), a Red Crescent worker. But neither Jaber nor Masharawi propose a 24 fps cure-all. Instead, as the climactic exhibition in a bitterly contested Jerusalem courtyard reveals, the screenings are a kind of triage that fleetingly resurrects long-moribund feelings of normalcy and community—even, perhaps, among a crew of one-dimensionally villainous Israeli settlers (the film's only misstep) who are confounded and entranced by the spectacle. It's to Masharawi's credit that Ticket to Jerusalem inspires a similar response. —MARK HOLCOMB


MAIL ORDER BRIDE
Directed by Robert Capelli Jr. and Jeffrey Wolf
Relativity, opens November 21, Village East

New York mob boss Danny Aiello is happy to ship his ne'er-do-well nephew to Russia on a mission to find a mail-order bride who defrauded "a family friend." The hapless goodfella-in-training is as unsuccessful at fulfilling his uncle's wishes as the star and co-director, Robert Capelli Jr., is at delivering punchlines. The film's simplistic portrayal of Moscow—a city of money-grubbing broads, corrupt politicians, and, of course, the Kremlin—is offensive enough, but it also weakens the element of the film with the most comedic potential: the comparison of the New York and Russian crime families. The only difference between Bride's two mob worlds is that the Russians say "You talkin' to me?" with a Russian accent. —NAT JOHNSON


ACTS OF WORSHIP
Written and directed by Rosemary Rodriguez
Manifesto, opens November 21, Village East

An inventively shot contender for 2001's Independent Spirit Awards, this cautionary tale of downtown hand-to-vein hustling follows Alix, played with full-throated crackhead brio by Ana Reeder, as she stomps around the L.E.S. enacting the daily rituals of addiction. After nearly OD'ing, she's taken in by Digna (Michael Hyatt), a former user whose heroin-chic photography is being appropriated by mwah-mwah uptown fashion trainspotters. Digna's struggle with sellout guilt is way more interesting than Alix's boilerplate dissembly, but ultimately Digna's just a pawn in the moralist checkmate. From the holy card in Alix's mom's letter to goofy discussions of prayer to the final Big Book dream-requiem identifying "little bits of heaven" in everyday life, the opposition of Christian spirituality and the bad religion of drugs is enough to send you down to the feel-good bodega just on principle. —LAURA SINAGRA


EL LEYTON
Directed by Gonzalo Justiniano
Sahara, opens November 21, Quad

In a Chilean seaside village, love conquers all, unless your wife is fucking your best friend, in which case, revenge rules the day. Local troglodyte Modesto (Luis Wigdorsky) manages to woo and marry the beautiful Marta (Siboney Lo), who despite a facility with netting, seems unfulfilled by life as a fisherman's wife. Temptation comes in the form of Leyton (Juan Pablo Saez), Modesto's best pal and the town Casanova. What follows is a barely elevated telenovela pointlessly told through a flashback in which Leyton confesses his ill-fated liaison to an angry mob. Sporting wraparound shades anda slick mane, Saez could clean up at a Bono look-alike contest, which surely would've been a better use of his time and talent. —DAVID NG

 
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