Earth

BBBB (out of 5) Beautifully shot romance set against the political backdrop of India on the brink of partition:  the British Empire is about to withdraw its control over the nation and talk is rife of defining a border to create what would eventually become present-day Pakistan. In Lahore, tensions among Sikh, Muslim and Hindu…

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Flowers Of Shanghai (Hai shang Hua)

BBB (out of 5) Four brothels in late nineteenth-century Shanghai are the settings for Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s sumptuous drama, with images that stay primarily within the confines of each home and contribute to an increasingly stifling, opium smoke-tinged atmosphere.  Tony Chiu Wai Leung is one of the major patrons of a courtesan who begins to worry for…

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The Dreamlife Of Angels (La Vie Revee Des Anges)

BBBB (out of 5) Two very different women, one optimistic and carefree (Élodie Bouchez), the other self-loathing and pessimistic (Natacha Régnier), share a flat that they are house-sitting. The more positive-thinking lass needs to get herself a job and will do anything to get one (watching her audition for a bar by singing Madonna being…

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Pecker

BBB (out of 5) Funny little film from John Waters is one of his most modest films, about a meek amateur photographer (Edward Furlong) who hits the limelight and finds that success alienates him too much from the people he loves most. Christina Ricci is great as his girlfriend, a laundromat employee who takes her job…

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Permanent Midnight

BB (out of 5) Forgettable recount of the turbulent battle with heroin addiction fought by Jerry Stahl, a television writer who contributed to shows like Alf and Thirtysomething before getting too strung out to work. Ben Stiller is strong in the lead but the film is too short and fails to build up any momentum. There’s…

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The Dinner Game (Le Diners De Con)

BBBB (out of 5) Excellent comedy that provides plenty of laughs, skillfully adapted by Francis Veber from his own stage play. A corporate snob (Thierry Lhermitte) gathers together with a group of friends every once in a while for a ‘dinner of idiots’, where each member of the group brings with them the biggest dolt…

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Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt)

BB.5 (out of 5) Franka Potente is excellent as a flaming-red-haired moppet who gets a call from her boyfriend saying that he lost a huge amount of money and needs it back in twenty minutes or he’s going to be executed by the gangsters to whom the cash belongs. The film repeats the same twenty-minute scenario…

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Illuminata

BB (out of 5) Too strange to be memorable, this odd mess of a film concerns a nineteenth-century minor theatre group putting on an opera. An A-list cast that includes John Turturro (who also directed), Susan Sarandon, Beverly D’Angelo, Katherine Borowitz (Turturro’s real-life wife) and Aida Turturro  (his sister) are all wonderful, but clearly the script they…

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The Impostors

BBB.5 (out of 5) Stanley Tucci’s tribute to silent-era filmmaking is an art-deco delight, one that is short on substance but long on rollicking humour. Tucci and Oliver Platt play two down-and-out unemployed actors who find themselves stowing away on an ocean liner when they have to hide out from an esteemed actor (Alfred Molina) they…

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The Hole (Dong)

BBBB (out of 5) Tsai Ming-liang’s theme of alienation in the modern world is revisited with exceptional grace and assuredness in this wonderful comedy-drama. Two apartments located on top of each other in a Taipei building are connected by a hole in the floor of one and the ceiling of the other. The resident in…

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Bishonen (Beauty) (Mei Shao Nian Zhi Lian)

BB.5 (out of 5) Empty-headed drama about a pretty-boy hustler suffering through a relationship with an uncommitted celebrity. He preens, he mopes, then we watch as his friends preen and mope about their crappy relationships. The film was reportedly based on a scandal that exploded in Hong Kong when it came out that many members…

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Bedrooms And Hallways

BB.5 (out of 5) Often amusing examination of the nature of love and lust in modern British Singleton society. Leo (Kevin McKidd) has just turned 30 and is invited by a friend to join a straight men’s therapy group led by Simon Callow.  While there, he falls for a member of the ensemble (James Purefoy)…

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