Juha

BBBB (out of 5) Aki Kaurismaki films a Postman Always Rings Twice-type story in the vein of a Dreyer silent in this richly enjoyable melodrama. His favourite leading lady Kati Outinen plays the wife of a hulking mechanic who is wowed by a visiting urban gentleman (André Wilms) when his car breaks down and he shows up in need of service….

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Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai

BBBB (out of 5) Forest Whitaker is terrific as a hired hit man who styles himself a modern day samurai, elegantly swinging his guns into his jacket as if they were swords and keeping his copy of the Hagekure on him for reference at all times.  He is best friends with a Haitian ice cream seller…

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Show Me Love (Fucking Amal)

BBBB (out of 5) Agnes is suffering the very best of teen angst issues, a loner in a new school who has made no friends, but deeply enamored with popular pretty girl Elin.  She throws a birthday party that no one attends until Elin and her sister show up on a whim, putting these two…

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Shower (Xi zao)

BBBB (out of 5) Funny and touching drama about an emotionally repressed businessman who mistakes a letter from his brother to be a notice about their father’s death, and travels back to his home town for the funeral. Upon arrival, he discovers the misunderstanding but stays on to have a visit with his family and…

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Simpatico

BB.5 (out of 5) Moderately successful character drama is actually an improvement over Sam Shepard’s talky and convoluted play. Jeff Bridges plays a successful Kentucky racehorse mogul whose dirty past is brought back to haunt him by Nick Nolte, an old high school friend who was part of the crooked deal that made Bridges wealthy.  Sharon…

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Himalaya (Himalaya–L’Enfance D’Un Chef) (Caravan)

BBB.5 (out of 5) Gorgeously photographed triptych of the beautiful mountainsides of Tibet, centering on the story of nomadic saltmen who brave harsh weather, a devastating climate and feuds between families to carry their salt to where they must sell it and bring back provisions for their homes. Eric Valli has definitely done a superb…

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Crane World (Mundo Grua)

BB (out of 5) Grainy, black and white slice of social realism in which director Pablo Trapero himself appears as a construction worker dealing with the realities of aging. He hangs out with his friends, visits his doctor, deals with his grown children and attempts a minor romance with a convenience store owner. Things go sour…

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Black And White

BB (out of 5) Exploitative and depressingly awful film by James Toback about rich white kids and their identity-seeking obsession with all things black. Toback proudly stated that most of the actors were improvising their scenes and dialogue, and the result is nothing impressive.  The performances are good, especially from Marla Maples and Claudia Schiffer, but…

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Guts (Lef)

BB.5 (out of 5) Tepid three-way romance about a struggling actor/writer (Viggo Waas) trying to get his Marlowe-style film noir movie made in the face of oppression from the director’s aunt, who is also the producer. While writing the film he also has the arduous task of fitting a free-spirited woman (Alice Reys) into his…

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Anywhere But Here

BB (out of 5) The presence of at least one happy scene would have done much for this overly melodramatic film about a young woman (Natalie Portman) being dragged across the country by her ambitious and, she thinks, selfish mother (Susan Sarandon). The performances by the two ladies couldn’t be better, but Wayne Wang’s direction…

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Dogma

BB.5 (out of 5) Kevin Smith stepped into unnecessary controversy when he released this spoof on Catholicism, one which isn’t in any way offensive to anybody smart enough to view it with an open mind. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon play two angels who have problems with the authority from upstairs, finding a loophole in…

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American Movie

BBBB (out of 5) Give pretty much anyone a home movie camera and they’ll think themselves a filmmaker, but in the case of Mark Borchardt, a Minnesota resident who lives with his mom while working out his differences with his estranged wife, his desire to be a filmmaker is one he takes very seriously. He and…

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