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Tess Review


OK
Hunkering down with any movie adaptation of a Thomas Hardy novel (Jude, The Claim) invariably means you're in for a long, depressing look at life. Tess stands as one of the longest and saddest of the lot -- this one offered up by Roman Polanski as one of a handful of adaptations of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, one of those famous high school assignments that you didn't get around to reading.

Tess Durbeyfield (Nastassja Kinski) is a naive English country girl sent to do good by her family. She's not two feet out of her cottage when she encounters the aristocratic Alec d'Urberville (Leigh Lawson). Legend has it the similarity in names is no coincidence -- the two families descended from the same royals centuries ago. Never mind the incest, though, here comes the lovin', and before you know it, Tess isn't just taking care of chickens at d'Urberville manor, she's pregnant to boot.

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The Ninth Gate Review


Good
What is The Ninth Gate? Judging from the cryptic marketing campaign, you might be likely to dismiss it as another ridiculous action movie, with big fireballs and car chase scenes. Or worse, maybe you'll shun it as a metaphysical adventure -- yet another End of Days.

Fortunately, The Ninth Gate is neither of these. In actuality, it's a mystery with Johnny Depp as the unlikely hero, Frank Langella as the perfectly-cast antagonist, and Lena Olin and Emmanuelle Seigner as the femmes fatale. Under the direction of Roman Polanski, you can rest assured that these characters get mixed up quite a bit en route through a serpentine plot that is far more interesting than its subject matter would imply: The search for a couple of rare books.

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Bitter Moon Review


Excellent
Certainly a case of deja vu for Hugh Grant, Bitter Moon finds the big Hugh playing hide the little Hugh with a girl he meets on a ship to Istanbul (Emmanuelle Seigner). The only problem is that the wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) doesn't really approve. And then there's the matter of the girl's husband (Peter Coyote), who sends Grant on the chase to start with.

Why is he bound to a wheelchair? How did the innocent couple turn so perverted? Coyote's story talks about bondage, golden showers, and even ends up with Coyote crawling around on the floor, grunting while he wears a pig mask.

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