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Exiled- Directed by Johnnie To. In Cantonese with subtitles. Two gangsters (Anthony Wong and Lam Set) set out to kill Wo (Nick Cheung) who attempted to assassinate their boss (Simon Yan). What ensues is, in many ways, like a shoot-‘em-up Western with a little bit of Tarantino mixed in. Everything from the stylized violence to the dark comedy makes this a very fun action film to watch, even though the plot feels derivative. Director Johnnie To knows how to keep the pace moving briskly and the action intense while never going too much over-the-top with absurdity like in Tears of the Black Tiger or El Topo. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: None is required or desired. Screens February 15th, 8:30 PM at the Walter Reade Theater. Released by Magnolia Pictures. Opens Summer 2007.
Exterminating Angels *Opening Night Film*- Directed by Jean-Claude Brisseau. In French with subtitles. François (Frédéric van den Driessche), a film director, searches for actresses for an erotic film about sexual taboos while two fallen angels occasionally observe and comment on the action. Although undoubtedly provocative, the plot just becomes an excuse to have many explicitly erotic sex scenes. The sex acts include solo acts by a female and a ménage à trois with two actresses (Lisa Bellyneck and Marousssia Dubreuil and a waitress (Marie Allan) who joins them after watching them perform public masturbation in a restaurant. François’ devotion to his actresses threatens his relationship to his wife (Sophie Bonnet). Unfortunately, writer/director Jean-Claude Brisseau doesn’t include enough scenes with the angels to make their presence a bit more purposeful—like gods in a Greek tragedy. More elaboration on this subplot would have been much more imaginative, refreshing and even insightful rather than mostly having scene after scene of sexual experimentation. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: Low. Screens Wednesday, February 14th, 6:30 PM and February Saturday, February 17th, 4 PM at the Walter Reade Theater. Released by IFC First Take. Opens March 7th, 2006 at the IFC Center.
Retribution- Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. In Japanese with subtitles. Yoshioka (Koji Yakusho), a detective, investigates the murder of a young woman and has supernatural experiences while the evidence somehow points to him. Writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa offers a few chilling scenes here and there thanks to the creepy set design and musical score, but it lacks an imaginative script. Also, the special effects look bizarrely cheap, as it they were filmed in the 80’s. Retribution borrows too much from Ju-on, but feels silly, predictable and almost as disappointing as the Ju-on remake, The Grudge. Entertainment Value: Moderate. Spiritual Value: None is required or desired. Screens Saturday, February 17th, 8:15 PM, Sunday, February 18th, 4:30 PM and Monday, February 19th @ 9 PM at the Walter Reade Theater. Released by Lionsgate Films. No release date, yet.
Summer Palace- Directed by Lou Ye. In Mandarin and with subtitles. Yu (Hao Lei) and Zhou (Guo Xiaodong) fall in love in college and meet again 14 years later. Yu and Zhou have some physical chemistry together, but their relationship seems to be based too much on sex, which they have quite often in their college days. The screenplay by co-writer Lou Ye lacks originality and many scenes fail to be compelling, although the cinematography does look amazing. Ultimately, this slow-paced romantic film drags in many spots and takes forever to reach its conclusion at a sleep-inducing running time of 140 minutes. Entertainment Value: Low. Spiritual Value: Moderate. Screens Saturday, February 17th, 1:15 PM and Sunday, February 18th, 6:45 PM at the Walter Reade Theater. Released by Palm Pictures. No release date, yet.