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Bad Guy (Nabbeun namja)

Korean director Kim Ki-duk is best known here for his gentle Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (2004), but much of his work belongs to the “cinema of cruelty” school associated with Michael Haneke. In this 2001 feature a woman is forced into prostitution by a thug who can express his obsessive love for her only […]

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Julie Walking Home

Director Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa) has a fairly solid reputation, but you’d never know it from this awkwardly executed, poorly paced, strangely unaffecting story about a boy dying of cancer, his agnostic mother, and a faith healer. The script, which Holland wrote with Arlene Sarner and Roman Gren, tends toward exchanges that announce the underlying […]

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Habana, Havana

This 2003 Venezuelan feature suffers from a strange disconnect between its first and second halves. For 40 nearly dialogue-free minutes, director Alberto Arvelo captures the details of two people’s lives with a distinctly documentary feel, as a man from the Cuban countryside journeys to Havana to buy shoes for his daughter and a woman in […]

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The Door to the Sun

Running 258 minutes and showing in two parts, this French-Egyptian drama (2004) covers a half century of Palestinian history with the epic sweep of a TV miniseries. Elias Khoury, who wrote the source novel and cowrote the screenplay, juxtaposes the story of a doctor in Beirut with that of an elderly Palestinian freedom fighter in […]

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2000 Terrorists

This documentary from the Netherlands (2004, 50 min.) collects firsthand accounts of the infamous September 1982 massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, where some 2,000 Palestinians were slaughtered by Christian militiamen sent in by Israeli forces. Filmmakers Hanro Smitsman and Peter Speetjens unwisely begin by focusing on the International Criminal Court’s […]

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A Life Without Pain

Could we survive if we never felt pain? This 2005 documentary looks at three families who face that question when their children are born with a rare disorder. From the moment of birth, these girls face a frightening array of dangers. They scratch themselves raw, chew their fingers to bloody pulp during teething, and injure […]

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Love for Rent

This romantic comedy takes the more-is-more approach, throwing in every plot cliche in the book. A Colombian woman has married for a green card so she can attend law school (now there’s an ethical lawyer), but her jerk of a husband takes everything, leaving her broke. In a single day, she meets cute with a […]

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Repatriation

Kim Dong-won’s 2004 video documentary explores an ideological and personal mess, bravely refusing to simplify or preach. A liberal South Korean, Kim befriended a group of North Korean spies who had refused to “convert.” After decades in prison, these newly released old men remain dedicated socialists who hope for both repatriation and reunification. Are they […]

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Balancing Acts

The life of Man-Fong Tong sounds like something out of an absurdist historical novel: born in China, he traveled the world as an acrobat, gave a command performance for Hitler, married a Jewish-Hungarian vaudevillian, and later appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Donna Schatz’s DV documentary tells Tong’s story through home movies and interviews with […]

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Flying Fists of Funny

Parody rules the day in this above-average program of comic shorts. Alexander Woo’s dead-on Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher catches the look and feel of World War II-era Superman cartoons. James Lu’s Fist of the Iron Chef throws together the cult cooking show and martial arts conventions for a sly political comment on China and Taiwan. […]