Fri, Feb 20, 2009 - Page 16 News List




There has been no newspaper advertising for this adaptation of John Patrick Shanley’s award-winning play, despite the film’s five Oscar nominations and that the leads (Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman) are Oscar winners backed by an excellent support cast. Hoffman is a progressive Catholic priest who bumps heads with the conservative principal of a Catholic school (Streep), especially after she becomes suspicious of the relationship between Hoffman and a young black student. Not everyone liked this movie, with calling Streep’s performance absurd and maniacal, but the critics were wowed by Viola Davis, who plays the student’s mother.

Marley and Me

This confection had previews last weekend, but its season proper starts today. Based on the popular book by John Grogan, Marley is a Labrador with a habit of renovating interiors with his teeth. His owners, journalists Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, are nearly driven to distraction by their overactive doggie, but he does eventually become the subject of Wilson’s column and helps pay the bills. The ending will challenge the tear ducts of even the most hardcore dog haters. Also stars Kathleen Turner and Alan Arkin, while Marley, according to Variety, is played by 22 dogs.

The Class

Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, The Class is a largely improvised pseudo-documentary that pits a well-meaning, passionate teacher (Francois Begaudeau, whose autobiography inspired the film) against a multiethnic gaggle of students from a working-class French neighborhood. This is not a formulaic movie with heroes and villains and a crudely redemptive climax, but a meticulous depiction of classroom politics. The students, who exhibit far more cunning as a group than movies normally allow, rehearsed for months before filming. Original title: Entre les Murs.

The International

Interpol agent Clive Owen and attorney Naomi Watts team up to battle the nastiest banks in the world. Not the ones that triggered the present economic debacle, but the others that fund catastrophic conflicts and hire hitmen to cover their tracks. The chase takes our heroes on a James Bond-like itinerary and showcases a New York Guggenheim Museum shoot-’em-up that may last longer in the memory than anything else in the film. Critics asked why it is that people so closely connected to opposing criminality could appear so bemused that institutions get away with murder.

Coming Soon

This Thai ghost story could be best described as a cross between Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo and Lamberto Bava’s Demons — but without the extreme violence. A projectionist falls asleep while previewing a gruesome new release, only to wake and discover that the cinema’s manager has disappeared and become a corpse in the film he’s watching. From there the barriers between movie and reality blur. The good news is that this latest T-Horror entry has picked up good notices for its wit and atmosphere. A treat for movie buffs, Coming Soon is the directorial debut of the writer of the acclaimed Thai horror films Shutter and Alone.

Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land (暗戀桃花源)

Starting tomorrow, the SPOT — Taipei Film House (台北之家-光點電影院) is offering limited screenings of this Taiwanese feature from 1992 directed by Stan Lai (賴聲川) and based on his landmark play. Two theatrical troupes are forced to share a stage while performing the rather incompatible works Secret Love (a tragedy) and The Peach Blossom Land (a comedy). A power failure and the arrival of a mentally ill woman looking for her “boyfriend” only add to the heady mix.VIEW THIS PAGE

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