Director: Lars von Trier. With Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Patricia Clarkson, Philip Baker Hall. (173 min.)Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Sterritt **** A woman running from criminals arrives in a small American village of the 1930s, where the townsfolk shelter her and then make her a dehumanized servant - until the criminals show up, throwing everything into a more unsettling perspective. Von Trier sets the action on a theatrical stage, spotlighting the existential isolation that weighs on people who don't seek larger visions of life, individuality, and community. Challenging, dramatic, provocative.
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen. With Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons. (104 min.)
Sterritt ** See review.
Director: Gregor Jordan. With Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts, Geoffrey Rush, Rachel Griffiths, (110 min.)
Sterritt ** The saga of a real-life outlaw whose violent skirmishes with lawmen made him a folk hero to many downtrodden Australians in the late 19th century. The cast works hard, but Jordan's directing is too ponderous and slow to build dramatic energy.
Director: Ernest Dickerson. With DMX, David Arquette, Jennifer Sky, Michael Ealy. (82 min.)
Sterritt ** The rise and fall of an African-American drug dealer (DMX) as perceived by a white writer (Arquette) who reads his diary after witnessing his death. This throwback to the outmoded blaxploitation genre is skillfully filmed by Dickerson, but has little else to offer besides cheap, violent thrills.
Staff * Sloppy, retro, stylized.
Sex/Nudity: 7 instances. Violence: 13 instances. Profanity: 100-plus instances of strong language. Drugs: 10 instances of illicit drug use, 13 of smoking, 8 of drinking.
Director: Jacques Doillon. With Pascal Greggory, Najat Benssallem, Ahmed Akensouss. (112 min.)
Sterritt **** A wealthy, manipulative Frenchman living in Morocco does a dance of neocolonialist seduction around a poor Moroccan woman who can't decide whether she desires or despises him. Subtle filmmaking and true-as-life acting make this an acute psychological drama with an engrossing sociological subtext. It stands with Doillon's best work. In French and Arabic with English subtitles.
Director: Adam Elliot, Chris Hinton, Florian Baxmeyer, Lionel Bailliu, Stefan Arsenijevic. With an internationally diverse cast. (86 min.)
Sterritt *** These short movies were nominated in the Academy Award race. The best animated item is "Harvie Krumpet," a dark Australian comedy about a social misfit; the best live-action entry is "Squash," a French drama about two macho businessmen having a psychological duel on the squash court. Also here is the animated "Nibbles," about a Canadian fishing trip, the live-action Slovenian drama "(A) Torsion," about a farmer and a church choir, and "The Red Jacket," a German look at the vicissitudes of a coat that ends up in wartime Sarajevo. In English and other languages with English subtitles.