AKA (unrated) Duncan Roy. British bad boy Duncan Roy, who occupied his share of grim prison cells as a young man, has lately made a name as a playwright and a filmmaker who doesn't mind mangling the occasional narrative or shredding the common theories of character development. In this highly autobiographical experiment -- the whole thing's boldly split into three simultaneous frames -- Roy tells (and sometimes doesn't tell) the story of a sexually abused teenager (Matthew Leitch) who runs away from home, works himself into the orbit of aristocrat Lady Gryffoyn (Diana Quick), then assumes the identity of her wayward son, Alex (Blake Ritson). The dramatic results are suitably complex. Alternately fascinating and distracting, Roy's artistic take on his own misadventures (in Paris and New York he, too, impersonated a rich boy he knew) deals vividly with manners and mores, truth and lies, in ways most of us fail to consider. Technically, this can be a difficult film to unravel, but if you're in the mood for a bit of avant-garde bombardment and some surprising emotional jolts, this is just the thing. With Lindsey Coulson and George Asprey. Opens Friday, May 7, at the Tivoli. (Bill Gallo)
I'm Not Scared (Io non ho paura) (R) Gabriele Salvatores. Opens Friday, May 7, at the Plaza Frontenac. Reviewed this issue.
New York Minute (PG) Dennie Gordon. The Olsen twins finally return to the big screen, nearly twice as old as they were in 1995's It Takes Two. Aimed at pubescent and pre-pubescent girls, New York Minute concerns -- what else -- twin sisters. Ashley plays Jane, the rigidly organized overachiever who hopes to win a prestigious scholarship to college. Mary-Kate is the more slovenly and much hipper Roxy, who plays drums in a band and plays hooky from school so often that the truant officer (Eugene Levy) is after her. Given their radically different personalities, the girls have grown apart over the years, much to their single dad's dismay. Forced together by circumstances, the sisters find themselves eluding both the truant officer and a shady gang of music pirates through the streets of Manhattan. The film is all high-energy and nonstop action. Some overly broad silliness and one questionable situation the girls find themselves in may bore or bother moms in the audience, but the film should please its target audience. Opens Friday, May 7, at multiple locations. (Jean Oppenheimer)
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (R) Kim Ki-duk. Few contemporary filmmakers venture toward visual poetry, and even fewer arrive there, but South Korea's Kim Ki-duk leads the pack. The writer-director of The Isle (Seom) returns with a true masterwork of cinema. Set entirely on and around an ostensibly idyllic floating monastery, the story reveals the evolution of a Buddhist monk (played, at various ages, by Kim Jong-ho, Seo Jae-kyeong, and Kim Young-min) as his master (Oh Yeong-su) teaches him the burdens and blessings of life. When centuries of dogma clash with fleshly passions (embodied by Ha Yeo-jin as a girl in need), the apparently placid lake becomes a volatile microcosm of the outer world. This subtly entrancing paean to seasons earthly and emotional is to the developing male psyche what Whale Rider is to the female, and it deserves equal acclaim. It's also refreshing to sense that a director is less a hyper movie geek than a seasoned life-enthusiast. If Kim would have held a little longer on the graceful opening shot, this film would be perfect. Opens Friday, May 7, at the Plaza Frontenac. (Gregory Weinkauf)
Van Helsing (PG-13) Stephen Sommers. Opens Friday, May 7, at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.