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Requiem

A pious rural lass (Sandra Hüller in an impressive screen debut) wants to spread her wings by attending college, but she has to contend with a more vexing problem than catty cliques or fractious frat boys: she’s besieged by demons majoring in advanced blasphemy. Based on the same sad facts as The Exorcism of Emily […]

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Nordeste

Juan Solanas’s first feature tackles the same topic as John Sayles’s Casa de los Babys—first-world ladies hungry for third-world babies—but from a tougher, less gringocentric perspective. A maternally unfulfilled French businesswoman (the excellent Carole Bouquet), distraught when a Buenos Aires adoption goes sour, heads for the northern Argentine outland, the hub of a thriving child-trafficking […]

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Animal

A visually flashy but otherwise flat-footed directing debut by screenwriter Roselyne Bosch (1492: Conquest of Paradise), set in an unspecified, vaguely futuristic Euroland. The title refers to our beastly human selves, and the Jekyll-Hyde story centers on a young scientist (Andreas Wilson, robbed by a lisping accent of the charisma he displayed in the 2003 […]

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Transamerica

Duncan Tucker’s first feature is an occasionally touching, more often clumsy variation on the formula of crusty oldster and problem child bonding on a road trip. The main reason to see it is Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and her buzz-gathering performance as an anxious pre-op trannie, which tops Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie role—he was just […]

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Guernsey

The influence of Wenders and especially Antonioni permeates Nanouk Leopold’s dour but intriguing Dutch drama (2005), with Maria Kraakman as a Monica Vitti-like limbo dweller coming undone amid elegantly composed angstscapes. She’s floating between family life in Holland and development-aid gigs in Egypt when a colleague’s inexplicable suicide forces her to examine her own life. […]

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The Matador

Recently bounced by the Bond franchise, Pierce Brosnan tweaks his old alter ego in this 2005 thriller, playing a burned-out international assassin who crosses paths with a struggling Denver yuppie (Greg Kinnear) down Mexico City way. The engaging first act channels Strangers on a Train, with the dangerously charming Brosnan playing Bruno to Kinnear’s square […]

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The Reader’s Guide to the 41st International Film Festival

Film Capital of the Week Being a second rate movie town has its advantages. By Jonathan Rosenbaum Heaven knows what possessed the Chicago International Film Festival to adopt “Film capital of the world” as its slogan this year, but considering some of the movies that played in New York and Los Angeles recently and never […]

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Hard Goodbyes: My Father

During the moon-shot summer of 1969, a ten-year-old Athens boy refuses to accept the death of his beloved father, concocting ever more far-fetched fictions to account for his absence. The repeated views of the starry heavens and the linking of juvenile grief with astronautical milestones are an obvious homage to Lasse Hallstrom’s My Life as […]

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Hukkle

Gyorgy Palfi’s oddball first feature (2002) combines the bucolic black humor of Hitchcock’s The Trouble With Harry and the pastoral lyricism of the classic French documentary Farrebique. A symphony of rural sights and sounds—including the hukkle, or hiccup, of the title—provides the oblique framework for the investigation of a series of mysterious deaths in a […]

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Blue Car

An alienated high school girl (Agnes Bruckner) finds solace through a devoted English teacher (David Strathairn) who nurtures her poetic gifts. Northwestern University grad Karen Moncrieff’s Sundance hit starts out as a pedagogical heart-warmer in the tradition of The Corn Is Green and Educating Rita, then veers toward Maury Povich territory when the heroine’s pesky […]