Director: Rubaiyat Hossain
Starring: Jaya Bhaduri, Victor Banerjee, Omar Rahim, Shayna AminIn Brief: Explosively controversial in its homeland because of its depiction of a love affair between a Bangladeshi woman and a Pakistani soldier, this Bangladeshi import isn't likely to have the same impact here, and plays more like a star-crossed love story with an agenda about "loving the other." Whatever its take, it's one gorgeous film.
Director: Kim Ramsay
Starring: Lara Cox, Tim McCunn, Scott Lowe, William SladeIn Brief: A minor-key little film about a struggling Australian sheep-farming family who are attempting to stay together and keep their heads above water, despite seemingly endless bad luck brought on by drought and the generally inhospitable climate of the Outback. Admirably done -- if a little on the film-school-project side -- and with an ending that feels a bit like King Vidor's The Crowd (1928) in a different setting.
Genre: Crime Drama
Director: Jérôme Lescure
Starring: Alexandre Laigner, Alice Pehlivanyan, Jean-Pierre Loustau, Stéphane RouabahIn Brief: Slick animal rights film structured to resemble a crime thriller. In the main, this works, but it sometimes seems too clever for its own good. The cutaways to scenes of animal cruelty will be too much for some, while the inevitable preachiness will be a downside for others.
Director: Egidio Veronesi
Starring: Federico Mazzoli, Francesca Botti, Augusto Gatti, Paolo Lodi, Giorgio PaltrinieriIn Brief: A sweetly sentimental tale about the life of a dreamer in a small town in Italy, mostly taking place just before and during WWII. It's small scale and a little on the cliched side, but not without its modest charms -- and with unusually striking cinematography that helps make up for its sometimes workmanlike story.
Director: Slava Ross
Starring: Pyotor Zaychenko, Mikhail Protsko, Sergey Novikov, Lidiya Bairashevskaya, Sonya RossIn Brief: A stark but compelling drama about life in rural Siberia, mostly centering on an old man and his grandson living a precarious existence in an isolated shack, but with a secondary plot that will eventually figure into their story. Altogether worthwhile, despite some flaws and cultural gaps.
Genre: Sexual Fetish Horror
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: James Spader, Holly Hunter, Deborah Kara Unger, Rosanna Arquette, Elias KoteasIn Brief: David Cronenberg's supremely disturbing film -- based on J.G. Ballard's novel -- is about a sub-culture that derives sexual kicks from car wrecks. Occasionally, it topples over into unintended laughs, but even those are slightly nervous. Compelling, but very much not for everyone.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook, Tamara Shanath, Margarita IsabelIn Brief: Guillermo del Toro's first feature film, Cronos, is one of the more audacious debut works you're likely to find. It's a rethinking of the vampire film -- and unlike most rethinkings, this one really brings something new to the table. The film boasts all the horror tropes -- and adds some new ones -- but it's also bitterly funny and finally quite touching. There's really nothing out there quite like it.
Genre: Fanciful Animated Biopic
Director: Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi
Starring: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Simon Abkarian, Gabrielle Lopes BenitesIn Brief: The very unusual and surpringly powerful Oscar-nominated animated biographical film about the extraordinary -- and yet perfectly relatable -- life of an Iranian girl. It's a film that should be seen -- and one that benefits from a second look, as well.
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