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7 Days in cinema

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ANOTHER WAVE: GLOBAL QUEER CINEMA “Another Wave” offers a supplement to the vision of queer cinema offered up each summer by the New Festival. It doesn’t ignore North America and Western Europe, but it treats them as part of a larger world. African, Latin American and Middle Eastern visions of sexuality merit equal time, while in films like Canadian director Elle Flanders’ “Zero Degrees of Separation” national identity is as important as gayness. While gender parity isn’t exactly the first half’s strength—it includes only two programs of films by women—the percentage of female directors’ work increases in the second half, which runs from September 1-16. That section also includes a program of shorts about AIDS, as well as one of films by Jim Hubbard, who helped curate the series. MoMA, 11 W. 53rd St. Through Jul. 21. (Steve Erickson)

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BRICK Finally, here’s a film for everyone who wishes Raymond Chandler wrote a novel set in high school! “Brick” has absolutely nothing going for it besides a gimmick-film noir played by teenagers. Village East Cinemas. (Steve Erickson)

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GABRIELLE Adapted from Joseph Conrad’s short story “The Return,” the plot of “Gabrielle” is extremely simple. It takes place over 36 hours, depicting the life of Jean. His social life is based around elaborate dinner parties, made possible by a stable of servants. His complacency crumbles when he reads a letter from his wife Gabrielle. She tells him that she has left him for another man. As Conrad’s title suggests, she comes back to Jean, but the couple must reinvent their relationship in order for it to have any chance of succeeding. “Gabrielle” explores a marriage without even the promise of physical pleasure. The most positive thing either Jean or Gabrielle ever says about their marriage is “I don’t regret living with you.” IFC Films. (Steve Erickson)

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HEADING SOUTH How many times have we heard and only half-believed that money can’t buy happiness? After 105 minutes of beach time with Charlotte Rampling and her friends, there is not doubt that being poor and decent is better than rolling in money with strings attached. Ellen (Rampling), Brenda (Karen Young), and Sue (Louise Portal) are North Americans of a certain age who have come to Baby Doc Duvalier’s Haiti for sun and fun. They install themselves in a rustic resort by the sea, spending lazy days on the beach sun-bathing, chatting, drinking concoctions with little umbrellas stuck in them, and frolicking with the local men. Angelika, Lincoln Plaza. (Sam Oglesby)

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A Prairie Home Companion This film is one of the sweetest, most cheerful films Robert Altman has ever made. Paradoxically, it’s also obsessed with death, both figuratively—in the form of a radio show’s last broadcast—and literally. It represents a clash of sensibilities, with screenwriter/star Garrison Keillor—who’s not exactly known for edginess—meeting Altman, whose work has always contained at least a tinge of misanthropy. “A Prairie Home Companion” only dips into his reservoir of mean-spiritedness once, when it suggests that killing off a corporate radio executive would be a good idea. (Steve Erickson)

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THE PROPOSITION The fly wranglers who worked on “The Proposition” must have been very busy. This Australian Western is almost all scuzzy atmosphere. Filmed in extreme heat, it captures the desert so vividly that you might start sweating in sympathy. Its male characters’ faces never seem to have felt the touch of a razor blade or washcloth. Hillcoast de-romanticizes the 19th century, cutting off nostalgia at the pass. His film isn’t free of the past’s bonds, though—it owes a major debt to Clint Eastwood and Sam Peckinpah’s revisionist Westerns. Angelika. (Steve Erickson)

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Russian Dolls Xavier, the protagonist of “Russian Dolls,” works on a script for a made-for-TV romance in Paris. His producers tell him to embrace clichés, a request he obliges. “Russian Dolls” mocks the result, staging scenes from the teleplay in overwrought soap opera style. Unfortunately, “Russian Dolls,” directed by Cédric Klapisch, isn’t much superior to its object of ridicule. Its own ideas about love and Generation X are pretty trite. IFC Center. (Steve Erickson)

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A SCANNER DARKLY Arrayed in junkie chic and heaped with expectations, Richard Linklater’s animated treatment of Philip K. Dick’s 1977 novel “A Scanner Darkly” plays like a heartbreak tango scored to the doomsday strains of a post-democratic American twilight. Culled from the late author’s own tour through the ’60s drug demimonde, “A Scanner Darkly” envisions an America “seven years from now.” Mass acquiescence to martial law is lubricated by rampant addiction to the insidious Substance D (for “Death”), a psychotropic that induces paranoid stupor, unquenchable dependency, and with prolonged use, engulfing psychosis. Landmark Sunshine, AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 & IMAX. (Ioannis Mookas)

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SUPERMAN RETURNS “Even though you’ve been raised as a human being,” Jor-El tells his son, “you’re not one of them. They can be great people—they wish to be—they only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all—their capacity for good—I have sent them you, my only son.” Were such allusions not enough, a further exchange between Superman and Lois Lane’s young son and scenes where a suffering Superman assumes the pose of crucifixion suggest that the film can be viewed through many lenses other than lavender. Above all, the film’s composer and editor John Ottman emphasizes that the movie is a love story. “It’s about a man who feels like an outsider trying to find out how he fits into the world. The love story, not the suspense element with Lex Luthor, is what kept me going emotionally as a composer. I sank my teeth into the emotional love triangle that’s the main drive of this movie.” (Jason Serinus)

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TIME TO LEAVE Photographer Romain (Melvil Poupaud) lives with his boyfriend Sasha (Christian Sengewald) in Paris. One day, he learns that he’s dying of cancer. While his doctor urges him to try chemotherapy, he also tells Romain that he has less than a five percent chance of recovery. Foregoing medical treatment, Romain decides to live out his last days as he pleases. He goes on the road, visiting his grandmother Laura (Jeanne Moreau), with whom he has a strong bond, and meeting Jany (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi), a married woman with an infertile husband who wants him to impregnate her. Director François Ozon’s only real twist on melodrama is making its lead character gay. Compared to the imaginative vision of “Under the Sand” or Portugese director Joao Pedro Rodrigues’ delirious “Two Drifters,” “Time to Leave” may as well be a remake of “Love Story.” Angelicka, Lincoln Plaza. (Steve Erickson)

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WASSUP ROCKERS “Wassup Rockers” may be highly flawed, but it’s a major step forward for Larry Clark. For once, he effectively conveys the ecstasy that skateboarding represents for his characters. The punk soundtrack is well used. Clark’s examination of inter-minority tensions may be blunt—and some may be offended by his depiction of almost all African-Americans as gun-waving gangstas, although rich whites take the brunt of his ridicule—but it’s far superior to the facile ironies and Screenwriting 101 gimmicks of Paul Haggis’ “Crash.” As it progresses, “Wassup Rockers” grows increasingly cartoonish, but the thrill of its final homecoming is very real. Angelika, AMC Empire 25. (Steve Erickson)

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Who Killed the Electric Car? As its title suggests, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” is a whodunit. Delving into the electric car’s short life as a commodity, it raises a host of other issues, particularly regarding the effectiveness of marketing and the ease of manipulating America’s “free market.” It’s also extremely optimistic. Lurking beneath its eco-outrage is a vision of car culture free from pollution and dependence on foreign oil. “Who Killed the Electric Car?” celebrates the battery-powered vehicles’ speed and sleek design. Angelika, Brooklyn Heights Cinema, Clearview’s 62nd & Broadway. (Steve Erickson)

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WORDPLAY “Wordplay,” which centers on the American Crossword Puzzle tournament in Stamford, CT, presents us with a plethora of interesting characters, all who seem to get a sheer joy out of crossword-puzzling. There is an ambitious frat-boy, a dedicated dad, an openly gay man living happily with his partner, and a baton-twirling editor from New York City. The film also has interviews with even more charismatic crossword enthusiasts such as Bill Clinton, Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina, and a particularly enthusiastic Jon Stewart who keeps on exhorting Will Shortz to “bring it on.” (Nick Feitel)

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Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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