By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
This three-part omnibus inspired by the divergent notions of a fourth dimension is one-third OK (Alexey Fedorchenko's computer-hacker time-traveling fable), one-third great (Jan Kwiecinski's exquisitely choreographed punk-party-before-the-apocalypse), and one-third gloriously moronic. If Harmony Korine was put on the earth for anything, it was to cast Val Kilmer as a shamelessly mugging roller-rink motivational speaker named Val Kilmer. Dressed in Salvation Army rack trash (yellow Izod, Native American amulets, black fanny pack), popping feeble wheelies on a dirt bike, and spouting seemingly stream-of-conscious nonsense about mother ships, the gold standard, and "awesome secrets," national treasure Kilmer is a sight to behold—and seems to be having the time of his life.
Finally tiring of all that futon-hopping, American indie filmmakers are taking up genre in droves. Andrew Semans's Nancy, Please veers from a yuppie nesting comedy into a nifty psychological thriller—as well as a dead-on depiction of doctoral-student psychosis. In Benjamin Dickinson's visually accomplished first feature, First Winter, freak-folk hipsters gather in a remote wintry farmhouse for rigorous sessions of yoga and fucking, only to find themselves stuck together for the apocalypse. And in the disarmingly funny bromance Supporting Characters, Alex Karpovsky and a fine Tarik Lowe play an editing duo charged with reworking a fatally flawed film.
Industrious auteur Michael Winterbottom returns with Trishna, a remarkably apt transposition of Tess of the d'Urbervilles to the entrenched classism and sexism of modern-day India (starring Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed in the leads), while in The World Before Her, documentarian Nisha Pahuja contemplates Indian modernity and female identity at opposite extremes, cutting between contestants at the westernized Miss India beauty pageant and a militant fundamentalist Hindu camp. In a similarly bifurcated look at a country in transition, High Tech, Low Life tracks two online "citizen reporters" in press-restrictive China—one a self-promoting individualist, the other a modest muckraking comrade, and each, in his way, a national hero.
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