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Friday, April 1, 2005

Short Takes: April 1, 2005


Bad Education

Director: Pedro Almodovar
Language: Spanish
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

Partially based on director Pedro Almodovar's experiences in a Spanish Catholic boarding school, "Bad Education" unleashes all his signature themes of sex, passion and love in a torrential flood of lavishly erotic images. Latino Seducer No. 1, Gael Garcia Bernal, stars in a double role of homme and femme fatale. Whether shimmying around in a snug mini-skirt or doing push-ups in a T-shirt and shorts -- either way he drives the men around him completely crazy. (Kaori Shoji)


Jersey Girl

Director: Kevin Smith
Language: English
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

Ollie Trinke (Ben Affleck), a shrewd publicist, leads a happy life with his wife (Jennifer Lopez) in Manhattan. However, tragedy strikes when she dies during childbirth. Seven years later, still grief-stricken Ollie loses his job in PR and moves back to New Jersey with his young daughter to live with his father (George Carlin). His celibate life takes a turn when he meets a video-store clerk (Liv Tyler) doing a survey of porn-video usage. Kevin Smith, known for more cynical works such as "Clerks" and "Dogma," directs this light romantic comedy.


Samaritan Girl

Director: Kim Ki-Duk
Language: Korean
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

Two high-school girls who are best friends, Jae Yong and Yeo Ji, take up prostitution to earn money for a trip to Europe. Jae Yong sleeps with the men, while Yeo Ji watches out for the police. When Jae Yong falls in love a customer, though, Yeo Ji becomes jealous and fails to do her job. As a consequence, Jae Jong ends up leaping out of a motel window to her death. Guilt-ridden, Yeo Ji tracks down her friend's former customers and not only sleeps with them but returns the money they paid. Things get more complicated when her father, a police officer, learns what his daughter is doing. Kim received the best director award at the Berlin Film Festival last year for this film.


Suite Habana

Director: Fernando Perez
Language: Spanish
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

This documentary follows a day in the lives of 12 citizens -- from a 10-year-old girl to a 97-year-old woman -- living in present-day Havana. As the title indicates, the film is musical in nature. With almost no dialogue, the film captures the rhythm of the city and of life itself. The people featured include an old woman selling peanuts on the streets; a young day-laborer who moonlights as a ballet dancer; and a hospital worker who becomes a drag queen at night.


A Very Long Engagement

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Language: French
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet of "Amelie" and his star from that film, Audrey Tautou, are re-united in this tale of pure love and faith set against the backdrop of the senseless trench warfare of World War I. Tautou plays a young woman who tries to learn the fate of her fiance, who was court-martialed and left for dead in no man's land. Jeunet's usual black humor is absent, but this is as visually striking as ever. (Giovanni Fazio)



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