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As the growing number of otaku (American fans of anime) can attest, animation in Japan is very different from what Americans are accustomed to seeing. In the United States, virtually every feature has followed the upbeat musical comedy model Walt Disney established in 1937 with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Nuanced acting and lip-sync dialogue bring the characters to life as individuals.
February 8, 2008 | Kevin Thomas, Special to The Times
The decline of the art-house theater has severely curtailed America's exposure to foreign films -- now limited largely to the occasional picture so prize-laden or distinctive that it breaks through. Romania's current critical darling, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," is a prime example.
June 22, 2012 | By Gary Goldstein
Too many questions and not enough answers haunt the slow-going mystery "The Woman in the Fifth,"a thankless lead vehicle for Ethan Hawke who's left largely stranded by writer-director Pawel Pawlikowski's opaque adaptation of Douglas Kennedy's novel. Hawke stars as American writer Tom Ricks, a one-book wonder who arrives in Paris to reunite with his ex-wife, Nathalie (Delphine Chuillot), and their small daughter, Chloé (Julie Papillon). But complications instantly pile up: Nathalie blocks Tom from seeing Chloé, his money and belongings are stolen, Tom's dumpy hotel room comes complete with sinister proprietor (Samir Guesmi)
August 16, 2012
As goofy and singular as its look-twice title, "Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same" is a weirdly ingratiating trifle lampooning dating, urban isolation, cut-rate sci-fi flicks and ecology. It's got midnight movie written all over it - and not in a bad way. This black-and-white comedy follows the romantic blossoming of self-conscious, lovelorn lesbian and stationery store clerk Jane (Lisa Haas) after she meets an honest-to-goodness alien named Zoinx (Susan Ziegler). Turns out the deadpan, bald-headed Zoinx, along with fellow space travelers Zylar (Jackie Monahan)
October 24, 2013 | By Robert Abele
From the stark glare of paralyzing grief to the shadow eroticism of a neo-gothic romance, "Il Futuro" makes for a peculiar strain of otherworldly viewing. An exquisitely shot love-among-the-ruins story adapted by Chilean filmmaker Alicia Scherson from a novel by her late countryman, the cult author Roberto Bolaño, it begins with a pair of dazed, bored teenagers, Bianca (Manuela Martelli) and younger brother Tomas (Luigi Ciardo), facing uncertain times in a rundown Rome apartment following their parents' death from a car accident.
January 13, 2008
The Air I Breathe Four stories based on a Chinese proverb interweave to depict life's emotional cornerstones: happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love. With Kevin Bacon, Forest Whitaker, Andy Garcia, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Brendan Fraser, Julie Delpy and Emile Hirsch. Written by Jieho Lee and Bob DeRosa. Directed by Lee. ThinkFilm, Jan. 25. Alexandra Opera star Galina Vishnevskaya plays an elderly woman visiting her grandson, an army officer, at his base in Chechnya.
January 17, 2013 | By Sheri Linden
There are slivers of wit embedded in the broad shtick of "Let My People Go!," a home-for-the-holidays romantic comedy for which home is a noisy Parisian clan, the holiday is Passover and the prodigal son is a gay 30ish mailman whose usual state of mind is the tizzies. The road to the inevitable slapsticky Seder is paved with more sweetness than bite, a good deal of frantic foolishness and progressively thinner laughs, all wrapped in a message of acceptance and inclusiveness. Scripted by first-time director Mikael Buch and art-house auteur Christophe Honoré, the farce is by turns fresh and fusty.
February 24, 2012 | Gary Goldstein
A crucial civil rights issue receives dull, inelegant scrutiny in "Iranian Taboo," director Reza Allamehzadeh's documentary that attempts to shed light on the persecution and scapegoating of members of the Bahá'í faith by Iran's Islamic regime. Allamehzadeh, reportedly banned from entering his native Iran (friends secretly filmed "Taboo's" Iran-set footage, while the director shot in such countries as France and Israel), takes an unsatisfying, two-pronged approach to this complex subject.
May 4, 2012 | By Gary Goldstein
More successful when mining its DePalma-esque tale of a red-dressed avenging angel than during its flatter romantic or domestic moments, first-time feature writer-director Oscar Luis Costo's "Shanghai Red" largely emerges as a tantalizing, involving thriller. A coolly enigmatic Vivian Wu ("The Joy Luck Club," "The Pillow Book") stars as Meili Zhu, a widow whose husband was killed as a result of a business venture gone bad, the specifics of which are intriguingly saved for last. Motivated by honor and guilt, Meili dons an assumed identity - a high-end call girl dubbed Shanghai Red - and sets out to murder her late mate's alleged assassins.
June 28, 2012 | By Robert Abele
Alma, the 15-year-old heroine of the Nordic import "Turn Me On, Dammit!," is introduced pleasuring herself on the floor of her kitchen to the chatter of a phone sex operator. Instead of setting up a single-minded comedy about teenage desire, however, this gently amusing film from writer-director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen delicately renders more than a few shades of a turbulent female adolescence. Soft-eyed, hangdog Alma (a wonderful Helene Bergsholm) is racked with horny/romantic fantasies and hates the backwater mountain village where she lives.
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