Fri, Aug 14, 2009 - Page 16 News List





A family with too many problems adopts Esther — a Russian-accented nine-year-old girl — who becomes a much, much bigger problem that any nightmare could have predicted. This is a graphic thriller-cum-horror flick that will offend those who wish to be offended and entertain those who wish to be entertained — and contains a plot revelation that has world-weary critics searching for superlatives. Not suitable for children, and probably unsuitable for a lot of grown-ups as well (the San Francisco Chronicle approvingly called it a “two-hour nervous breakdown,” while the sniffy Washington Post called it “depraved ... filth”). From the director of the House of Wax remake and co-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio.

My Sister’s Keeper

The plot for this one is so outlandish and histrionic at first glance that you could be forgiven for staying well clear: A pre-teen discovers that she was conceived to help her sister survive a would-be genetic death sentence, and sues her family to gain distance from the medicos who need bits of her body. But the cast (Cameron Diaz as the mother, Jason Patric as the father, Alec Baldwin as the lawyer) and the director (Nick Cassavetes, John Q) treat the audience with respect and the end result is a tearjerker with a nod to the dilemmas of modern science.


Poor prospects for this sex-laced drama about a Los Angeles gigolo and the women who stump up cash for his services. Any such sleaze requires strong characters and a clever script, but neither is on display if you believe early notices from Europe. Worse, there’s no sign of Richard Gere; audiences instead must entertain the thought of Ashton Kutcher (That ‘70s Show, The Butterfly Effect) being the main man and Anne Heche his leading customer. Vulgarities abound, starting with the title.

Handsome Suits

An unattractive loser finds himself the center of much-appreciated attention when a bloated white outfit transforms him into a hunk — but will he find or lose wisdom along the way? This Japanese comedy may sound like a cross between Shallow Hal and that awful Jackie Chan (成龍) movie The Tuxedo, but reviewers in Japan and Hong Kong think some might get a kick out if it. Those not in the mood to be reminded of the superficiality of physical beauty are better off seeing Orphan.


One of the clever ideas in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street was having petrified teenagers force themselves to stay awake to avoid the razor talons of Freddy Kreuger. In this South Korean fantasy from niche director Kim Ki-duk, a similar situation emerges when a man (who only speaks Japanese) concludes that a sleepwalking woman is acting out his dream world in the real world — with sinister consequences. As with most of Kim’s films, this will leave you exhilarated or in a stony cold funk, which might just allow us to call him the Korean David Lynch.

Keroro The Movie 4

Failed interstellar conqueror Keroro, aka Sgt. Frog, is back in the fourth feature-length anime based on the popular Japanese manga. This time around, the impossibly lazy Keroro travels across the world with his host Earth family to combat a sinister dragon whose massive tail, in the visual tradition of Independence Day, has draped itself across the skylines of cities that boast the world’s most recognizable monuments. Loosely subtitled “Crushing Invasion! Dragon Warriors,” this film should deliver the goods for young fans of this most unusual anti-hero. Screens with a Keroro short, as usual.

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