Gangster No. 1. Paul McGuigan. Opens on August 30 at the Tivoli. Reviewed this issue.
One Hour Photo. Mark Romanek. Opens August 30 at the Hi-Pointe. Reviewed this issue.
Possession. Neil LaBute. British author A.S. Byatt's Booker Award-winning bestseller Possession has been brought to the screen by director LaBute. Two young literary scholars (Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart) attempt to gather evidence that there was a secret affair between beloved nineteenth-century poet laureate Randolph Ash (Jeremy Northam) and the less-well-known poet Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle). Needless to say, on their intellectual journey the modern characters begin to fall in love as well, and both stories are present onscreen in counterpoint. LaBute is a poor match for the material. This is a romance, a story of grand passion, and he is, to put it mildly, not the warmest of directors. Nor is he able to solve the many narrative problems inherent in translating to the screen the nineteenth-century material that is presented on the page solely through documents. The story contains a series of plot revelations, each of which should move us, some of them profoundly, yet they feel so evenly weighted that they have no impact. Opens August 30 at multiple locations. (AK)
Read My Lips (Sur mes lèvres). Jacques Audiard. A French thriller starring Emmanuelle Devos as Carla, a shy woman in her mid-twenties, and Vincent Cassel as Paul, the handsome bad boy who becomes her passion. The two are on opposite ends of the moral spectrum when they meet, but she's attracted to his dark side, and he's attracted to her lip-reading fluency, and as they grow closer, the situation becomes more difficult. Opens August 30 at the Galleria.
Yana's Friends. Arik Kaplun. Yana (Evelyne Kaplun) is a Russian Jew new to Israel with her husband Fima (Israel Demidov). Shortly after they make their residence in a rundown building with a cantankerous landlady (Dalia Friedland) and wacky roommate Eli (Nir Levi), a womanizer with U.S. film-school aspirations, the husband bails with the $20,000 loan he's taken from an Israeli bank and starts a business back in Russia. Yana tries to follow him but can't leave the country without a statement from the bank that she's free of all local debts, which she isn't, having co-signed Fima's loan. As she tries to make a break for it anyway, we get a good look at that famous Israeli airport security when this slight woman is tackled by several guards and strip-searched. Eli, who's not such a bad guy after all, reappears. You can see where this is going: Care to bet on whether Eli and Yana will get it on? As obvious as the romance is, however, the backdrop of the Gulf War and unflinching looks at abortion, missiles and sex with gas masks make this film perhaps the perfect date movie for the age of paranoia. Opens August 30 at the Tivoli. (LYT)