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The Method Review


Very Good
The reality television metaphors come flying at you fast and thick in Spanish filmmaker Marcelo Piñeyro's The Method, which provides for a lot of easy audience identification -- hey, I've seen Survivor -- but makes it just a bit too recognizable for comfort, at least until the end, when its existential modus operandi becomes terrifyingly clear. There are plenty of other comparisons to be drawn from this exercise in business-world gamesmanship, from Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross to LaBute's In the Company of Men, though Piñeyro's has a more gender-neutral agenda: in short, women are just as exceptional bastards as men.

Set almost entirely in a nicely-appointed conference room in a Madrid office building, The Method begins with a very telling split-screen montage: As we watch the characters go about their morning routines, traffic is piling up and the streets thickening with protestors. The IMF-World Bank conference is in town and the anti-globalization forces are marshalling for a Seattle-esque day of angry confrontation. But this is of little concern to the seven, who have taken advantage of the protests (many offices have shut down for the day) to go to a group interview for an executive job at Dexia Corporation. Of course, we are never privy to knowing what it is that Dexia does, but such specifics are entirely beside the point.

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Sex And Lucía Review


Good
Think of it as what might have happened to Luisa after her adventure in Y Tu Mamá También, and in a mildly alternate universe, too.

For Lucía y el sexo -- cleverly twisted around for English-speaking audiences as Sex and Lucía, to put the emphasis on the film's substantial eroticism -- the alternate universe reference is more appropriate than you might think. The story (obviously) centers around Lucía (Paz Vega), a listless waitress who falls in love with a novelist named Lorenzo (Tristán Ulloa), based on the power of his works. She propositions him, soon they're living together and engaging in lots of the titular activity, but then Lorenzo disappears. A cop calls, and Lucía fears Lorenzo is dead.

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Lovers Of The Arctic Circle Review


Very Good
Surprising, haunting, magical, and spiritual -- Lovers of the Arctic Circle presents a strange story of love and bizarre coincidence, a journey across decades that begins when a boy falls in love with a girl at school. When their parents end up getting married, "brother and sister" begin a torrid affair, then eventually split up when, as a young man, the boy leaves to seek his destiny. As adults, the two try to seek each other out again, converging upon a small island in the Arctic Circle.

Reminscent of Map of the Human Heart, the film is slow to get going and a bit gimmicky (telling the story from both points of view, repeating the scenes with a different slant), but it all pays off in the end. Give it a chance; you're sure to fall in love with all three actresses that play the woman throughout her life.

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Open Your Eyes Review


Excellent
If Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch had collaborated on a project, the result might have been something like Open Your Eyes. Kubrick's most common themes -- imaginary worlds, sexual and social obsessions, distrust of emotion, human depravity, and a journey towards freedom and self-knowledge -- present themselves here. Lynch's usual themes -- dreams and illusion vs. reality, persuasion, fear, self-submission, murder, and curiosity -- also sprinkle themselves into this movie's stirring, complex recipe.

From the moment the movie opens, it's unclear of what is real and what is not. We meet a handsome, young, successful businessman named César (Eduardo Noriega), who drives expensive cars, resides in a classy residence, and enjoys an endless supply of beautiful women.

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Before Night Falls Review


OK
Is there a rule that all biopics must begin at birth and end at death? Death I can understand, but the actions of a three-month old just don't seem of much relevance to any story, regardless of how important the subject is.

Alas, the subject of Before Night Falls is likely not a name you'll be familiar with anyway, but there he is, a speechless little boy playing in a pit dug in the ground. As it turns out, Reinaldo Arenas was an acclaimed Cuban author, and I have to take the press notes' word on that, as I've never heard of the guy. His life certainly appears to have been filled with adventure and tragedy, as many Cuban lives undoubtedly have been. Outcast as a youth for his interest in writing and his predilection for the male gender, Arenas was persecuted, imprisoned, exiled, and infected (apparently with AIDS, though it's never really specified). And all the while he just wants to write his poetry and novels. Perhaps the best scene in the film has Arenas floating in escape from one round in prison, his manuscript tied to his waist in a plastic bag.

Continue reading: Before Night Falls Review

Open Your Eyes Review


Excellent

"Open Your Eyes" is a jaw-dropping psychological thriller about the power of the human mind to bend and break reality -- or is it?

With more twists than a strand of DNA, co-writer and director Alejandro Amenabar delves headlong into the increasingly erratic mind of a rich, charming, devastatingly handsome egoist who becomes unhinged after being horribly disfigured in a car crash.

Eduardo Noriega plays Cesar, a habitual love 'em and leave 'em charmer who at his 25th birthday party meets Sofia (Penelope Cruz), his best friend's date and the first girl who has ever truly made his heart race.

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Before Night Falls Review


Good

Reinaldo Arenas was a gifted Cuban novelist and poet whose life of poverty, hardship, revolution, censorship, imprisonment and exile never stemmed his formulation of passionate prose.

In "Before Night Falls," artist/filmmaker Julien Schnabel pays devotional homage to the writer with a soul-probing and beautifully cinematic adaptation of his memoirs, begun in a Cuban prison in 1973 and published posthumously after he succumbed to AIDS in New York in 1990.

The film, which tracks Arenas's entire life beginning with his childhood in a dirt-floored farmhouse, features dulcet, moving voice-overs from his poetry. It boasts powerful symbolism and political statements about freedom and persecution, not to mention cinematography that brings vividly to life the ironic contrast of Cuba's impoverished living conditions with its breathtaking beauty.

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Sex & Lucia Review


Good

"I'm sorry for everything I said when I left," a pretty young waitress whispers into a pay phone at the back of her restaurant in the opening scene of "Sex and Lucia." Regret and apprehension resonate in her voice. Her body is both tense and tired, not from too little sleep (although that's probably a part of it) but from the fatigue of having strain she can't resolve in a relationship that has been the most important thing in her life.

All of this is evident within seconds of this girl's presence on screen, so it's no wonder the composed yet sensual and expressive Paz Vega won a Goya (Spain's Oscar) for this performance. She goes on to cover a remarkable range of emotion, strength and vulnerability as the lovely Lucia, who by the end of that phone call has sensed desperate despondency in her already deeply-troubled lover. She dashes home to find a disturbing farewell note just as the phone rings with a call from the police expressing regret about an horrible automobile accident....

Lucia hangs up in the middle of the call, hastily packs a backpack and runs away to the only place she can think of that might put her heart at rest -- an island off the coast that Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa), her lover, had always talked about but never taken her to visit.

Continue reading: Sex & Lucia Review

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Jason Statham Loves The Mechanic's Complicated Action

Jason Statham Loves The Mechanic's Complicated Action

Five years after his first stint as hitman Arthur Bishop in The Mechanic, Jason Statham has returned to the role for Mechanic: Resurrection.

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John Krasinski Used His Experience To Make The Hollars

John Krasinski Used His Experience To Make The Hollars

In a busy year that has seen John Krasinski star in movies and TV shows, he somehow managed to find the time to direct, produce and star in the new...

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Najwa Nimri Movies

Sex and Lucía Movie Review

Sex and Lucía Movie Review

Think of it as what might have happened to Luisa after her adventure in Y...

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Before Night Falls Movie Review

Before Night Falls Movie Review

Is there a rule that all biopics must begin at birth and end at death?...

Open Your Eyes Movie Review

Open Your Eyes Movie Review

"Open Your Eyes" is a jaw-dropping psychological thriller about the power of the human mind...

Before Night Falls Movie Review

Before Night Falls Movie Review

Reinaldo Arenas was a gifted Cuban novelist and poet whose life of poverty, hardship, revolution,...

Sex & Lucia Movie Review

Sex & Lucia Movie Review

"I'm sorry for everything I said when I left," a pretty young waitress whispers into...

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