By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
October 15 and 16
Courageous moralist or the indie maestro of mean? In burlesquing the travails of a pregnant teenage refugee from deepest New Jersey, Todd Solondz has constructed a tale designed to affront smug liberals and fanatical right-to-lifers alike. This equal-opportunity offensiveness is tied to a would-be universalizing metaphor in which the heroine is played by a half-dozen actresses. It doesn't work, but who's to say that Solondz's discomforting take on abortion didn't vouchsafe Vera Drake's Venice triumph. Distributors are circling. J.H.
Studio of Flying Daggers
Ornate sets, emperor-peasant action, and royal-court face-offs highlight a Shaw Bros. retro — 'Elegance, Passion, and Cold Hard Steel: A Tribute to Shaw Brothers Studios'
By Michael Atkinson
THE GATE OF THE SUN
A Leon Urisy Mideast jeremiad, this four-and-a-half-hour generational epic by Egyptian director Yousry Nasrallah seems familiar to U.S. eyes in almost every sense except one: History unfolds from the p.o.v. of Palestinians killed, bulldozed, exiled, tortured, and disenfranchised by the Israeli state. Feverishly melodramatic but capable of painfully poetic moments (a starving Arab squeezing milk out of a dead cow, wandering refugees discovering they'd passed into Lebanon and then looking mournfully back), Nasrallah's outraged saga has the full-throated voice of a freedom fighter's anthem text. No distributor. M.A.
Like Millennium Mambo, Hou Hsiao-hsien's new masterpiece monitors the inner transformation of a young woman (Japanese singer Hitoto Yo)the shift barely registers moment to moment but by film's end is blissfully palpable. Conceived as an Ozu tribute, Café Lumière is scaled and paced accordingly. It's a film about the tenuous comfort of friends and family, the magic of Maurice Sendak, the clattering lullaby of railway sounds, the joys of home cooking and coffee (or warm milk) in the afternoon. There's not exactly a happy ending, but the cumulative effect is one of muted rapture. No distributor. D.L.
Alexander Payne leaves his native Nebraska to stage a hilarious excellent adventure in which Paul Giamatti's depressed eighth-grade teacher treats his skirt-chasing best friend (TV actor Thomas Haden Church playing a TV actor) to a bachelor week in the California wine country. The performances are superlativeüber-nebbish Giamatti defines a genre, but Church steals the movie. The comedy is more than poignantit's actively painful. Fox Searchlight will release it October 20. J.H.
Unavailable for preview:Triple Agent
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