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7 Days in cinema

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AMERICAN GUN Interesting and somewhat contrived, “American Gun,” Aric Avelino’s directorial debut, is a decent, if small-scale example of a relatively new trend in American cinema—the episodic drama. The film, which intersperses three stories of gun violence in America, has already been compared to other similar such films as “Crash” and “Traffic,” but it falls short in comparison to both. (Nick Feitel)

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BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN Arriving on an avalanche of hype, “Brokeback Mountain” finally reaches the screen nine years after E. Annie Proulx’s memorable short story first appeared in The New Yorker. The story’s enduring impression—once the novelty wore off, one of sentimentality and archaism—is preserved intact in Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry’s reverent yet inventive adaptation. (Ioannis Mookas)

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CACHÉ (Hidden) Michael Haneke’s never come across a genre he didn’t want to implode—family melodrama in “The Seventh Continent” and “The Piano Teacher,” horror in “Funny Games,” science fiction in “Time of the Wolf.” With “Caché,” he’s made a thriller that retains all the form’s tension while offering little of its satisfactions and catharsis. In French with English subtitles. Lincoln Plaza, Landmark Sunshine. (Steve Erickson)

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CAPOTE Yes, in “Capote,” Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a terrific—call it Oscar-worthy —performance channeling gay writer Truman Capote. He has the author’s mannerisms down pat, his voice expertly attuned to delivering witty bon mots. It’s a perfect role for the actor/chameleon and he plays it to the hilt. (Gary M. Kramer).

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THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS There’s a big obstacle to appreciating this film—it’s based on a novel by J.T. Leroy, a writer who doesn’t really exist. But as a film, “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things” is blissfully unconcerned with keeping it real. A nightmarish vision of the South from an Italian director, Asia Argento, who cast herself in the second largest role, it suggests what Todd Solondz might make if he finally achieved some mature perspective on life’s cruelty, rather than being content to simply catalogue it. Landmark Sunshine. (Steve Erickson)

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THE LADY IN QUESTION IS CHARLES BUSCH No one would dream of calling the aristocratic Charles Busch a drag queen. In a career spanning more than 20 years he has been a stand-up performance artist, actor, playwright, novelist, and, of course, leading lady in a string of high camp/low camp vehicles he wrote with titles such as “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom” and “Psycho Beach Party.” In most of these plays, Busch channels the glamorous female divas of the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, including Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell, and even Sandra Dee. Quad Cinema. (Gerard Robinson).

MATCH POINT Character is this new Woody Allen’s film’s strength—both Nola and Chris are memorable creations. However, the screenplay is both the film’s high point and greatest weakness. Chris’ mysterious job, while apparently demanding and extremely well paying, leaves him plenty of time for afternoon flings and vacations. “Match Point” isn’t concerned so much with the details of Chris’ sinecure as its effect on him—he becomes determined to hang onto his newfound wealth at all cost. AMC Loews Lincoln Square 12, Clearview’s First and 62nd St. (Steve Erickson)

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THE NEW WORLD “The New World” engages with, and operates in, the realm of fable and archetype. Many historically contested or disproved matters—most crucially the spurious romance between Pocahontas and John Smith—are fused into a spellbinding fiction garlanded with Malick’s signature poetic voice-over narration. As ever, he follows his own program, reshaping canonical myths rather than demystifying them with naked fact. Cinema Village. (Ioannis Mookas)

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Paradise Now Suicide turns a person’s life into a giant question mark. For suicide bombers, it’s doubly true. Everything in their life is seen as a prelude, making the suicide bomber a difficult character to fictionalize. Palestinian-born, Dutch-based director Hany Abu-Assad is certainly aware of the pitfalls, perhaps too much so. Landmark Sunshine. (Steve Erickson)

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SOPHIE SCHOLL-THE FINAL DAYS At last year’s New York Film Festival, a journalist asked Austrian director Michael Haneke if he knew any people who don’t lie. He said “Yes, but they don’t make very interesting characters.” Marc Rothemund’s real-life heroine Sophie Scholl was a very good liar, as it turns out, but he turns her anti-Nazi resistance into a form of secular sainthood. Film Forum. (Steve Erickson)

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SUMMER STORM The plot of the coming out film is pretty standard. A teenager thinks he or she is queer and goes through the five stages of grief—denial, anger, fear, hope, and acceptance. Although the sensitive German coming out story “Summer Storm” follows this plot arc pretty closely, it is an original and winning film. Directed and co-written by Marco Kreuzpaintner, The film features the atypical setting of a crew team preparing for a trophy race, and it benefits from the fact that the teens—both gay and straight—are horny and sexually curious without the situation being contrived. CC Village East Cinemas. (Gary M. Kramer)

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TRANSAMERICA “Transameri­ca,” the new film written and directed by Duncan Tucker, is terribly written, poorly conceived, and its premise is stupid to the point of ridiculousness. It is also, most likely, the best film of 2005. The credit for this success lies not in Tucker’s overbearing hands, but in the more delicate fingers of Oscar-nominated Felicity Huffman. (Nick Feitel)

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TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY Michael Winterbottom’s film preserves the anecdotal quality of Laurence Sterne’s source novel, but at a brief, fast-paced 90 minutes, it can’t match its epic heft. Instead, it takes the form of a comic mockumentary. The film starts in the makeup room, where actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are talking. Their relationship is a mix of rivalry and friendship. It’s a great deal of sheer fun, showcasing Coogan as one of the best comic actors working today. Village East. (Steve Erickson)

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WHY WE FIGHT Opening a year after its coronation at Sundance 2005, Eugene Jarecki’s magnificent documentary “Why We Fight” is poised to incite the national dialogue about our corrupt administration and its profit-driven endless war into a furor. Assembled with a jeweler’s precision and finesse, the film’s tightly reasoned, diamond-edged argument is designed to pierce the mystifications of Bush and his corporate media handmaidens. Village East. (Ioannis Mookas)

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Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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