365 Days Later

The Other of Invention

 Lost in Translation defined the Sudafed-and-Johnny Walker mind-set of 21st-century road warriors—jet lag as Ecstasy; regret, longing, and desire as woozy narcotics. RAY PRIDE

Just because Sofia Coppola is rich, lucky, and connected doesn't mean she can't do it. TERRI SUTTON

I get why straight, middle-aged male critics were flattered by Lost in Translation, but what's everyone else's excuse? Sofia Coppola's inventory of cool—the most expensive Marc Jacobs campaign ever—valorizes the hipster who thinks she's smarter and more "real" than all the other hipsters. This precious universe would collapse from its narcissism were it not for Murray, a neighing Helmut Lang clotheshorse. NATHAN LEE

Lilya 4-Ever
photo: Newmarket Films
Lilya 4-Ever

Lost in Translation is practically a sister to Friday Night, but where Claire Denis describes a city she knows and loves, Coppola chooses one she doesn't know very well and finds amusingly weird. It's a hip version of Ugly American bluster. Please lip Coppola's stockings. STEVE ERICKSON

As a love story, Lost in Translation seems solipsistic and insensitive; as an exploration of willful, conditioned, and even unintentional misreading (translating) by its American characters, it's both less and more disturbing. CYNTHIA FUCHS

Sofia seems to be the Teflon Director. First nobody can ask her about her father, ever; then nobody can ask her about her husband; then there's also the (false) consensus that the film was a gas to make and Bill Murray was the nicest guy in the world. And this in an age of tabloid journalism. MARK PERANSON

Translation's ugly swipes at them wacky Japanese (not to mention pea-brained American starlets) can be read as a defensive hitting-out, an extremely adolescent mode of cocooning: shut in my room 'cos nobody speaks my language—nobody gets me—but you. The teen spirit of romanticized alienation soon grates because the film reads most convincingly as autobiographical juvenilia. And yet, even Bryan Ferry himself could not have conjured the plangent rhapsody of Mr. Murray singing karaoke "More Than This." Delayed adolescence is largely ridiculous, as is Lost in Translation, but what about the ridiculous sublime? JESSICA WINTER

Top 40 Countdown

The dread that runs beneath Elephant is certainly inspired by the massacre to come (however much the film rewinds itself to delay its arrival), but it's rooted also in the foreboding and fragility of adolescence. I can't think of another film that captures this as well, feels it as intensely. In this sense, Elephant is telling us many new things, and maybe even a few about Columbine. B. KITE

Now I know why those Columbine boys shot up their school—they were being stalked by a Jaws-like bookcart-pushing girl-monster and belittled by savage, primping, puking popular Juicy Couture chicks. LAURA SINAGRA

Gus Van Sant's ravishing companion pieces Gerry and Elephant were criticized as empty aesthetic exercises. As much as "Yeah . . . so?" would be an effective retort, Van Sant sparks just enough thought (on man's disconnection with the natural world, on high-school life during a not-so-ordinary day) to carry the viewer through his magnificent spaces, as if he were igniting the end of a slow-burning fuse. SCOTT TOBIAS

Kicking virtual ass from Paris to Tokyo to Chihuahua, Connie Nielsen is the postmodern Linda Hamilton. As demonlover's frosty corporate huntress, she applies an impenetrable, mirror-world lacquer to her capitalist avatar. Nielsen speaks several languages, all in the same flat accent, and like her nationality-less character, she effortlessly spans continents (giving Famke Janssen a run for her money as Most Unplaceable Cinematic Ice Queen). Disappearing into each persona Assayas devises for her (Storm, Emma Peel), Nielsen is the on-screen equivalent of negative space, and I mean that as a compliment. DAVID NG

A valentine to shape-shifting contemporary capitalism that's about as sweet as it ought to be, demonlover is the real continuation of Fritz Lang's Mabuse series. Where Lang's trilogy shifted the Mabuse principle from a body to a book to a building, Assayas follows its mutation into the New (or Zombie) Economy. Mabuse can no longer be embodied in a single individual since everyone is fighting for the role. The Blank Room at the center of so many Lang films can be re-established anywhere in the borderless business world as long as it maintains a fixed Web address. The Doctor makes his final bow as almighty consumer and the customer, of course, is always right. B. KITE

Quentin Tarantino, the most shallow pretender to Godard's throne—when will Yvonne Rainer get her revenge?—managed to make a film with all the bounce, necro-philia, showmanship, and jangly jouissance of '60s Jean-Luc, but still lacking any brains whatsoever. JASON MCBRIDE

QT is turning into the DJ Shadow of the mixtape movie—everything that goes into it comes out his. JIM RIDLEY

One adapted novel. Three powerful, slightly suffocating performances. And everywhere you look, the seepage of the past into the present, abetted by liberal dousings of literal water: Mystic River is The Hours for men.ED PARK

School of Rock: What I imagine Robert Pollard's science classes might have been like. JASON MCBRIDE

Lilya 4-Ever is the pummeling completion of a master's teen trilogy, starting with the tender optimism of Show Me Love, maturing into resignation with Together, and now arriving at the fiercest indictment of predatory adults in modern movies. Lukas Moodysson is 33 years old. Be afraid. JOSHUA ROTHKOPF

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