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Friday, Nov. 18, 2005
Short Takes: Nov. 19, 2005
Made in 1932 by director Tod Browning, who was riding high on the success of "Dracula," the cult classic "Freaks" was quickly banned for being too disturbing. Now digitally restored, it is the story of circus freaks -- midgets, pinheads, hermaphrodites, Siamese twins and a "human worm" -- who take revenge on a beautiful acrobat and jocklike strongman who try to grift one of them. Perhaps one of cinema's earliest examples of misfits vs. straights where the outsiders come out on top, it resonated through counterculture into places like Bill Griffith's "Zippy The Pinhead" comics, The Ramones "Gabba Gabba Hey!" chants and David Lynch's film "Eraserhead." (Giovanni Fazio)
The story of a friendship between a young South African boy, Xan (Alexander Michaletos), and a cheetah that he rescues and names Duma. When his family decides to raise Duma themselves, they know that one day they will have to return the cheetah back into the wild. Despite Xan and Duma's developing friendship, when Duma starts to grow up and gets into a trouble in the city, it is time to release him. The Xan and Duma take a grueling journey across the desert to look for a place where Duma can live on his own.
The Feller sisters have nothing in common: Rose (Toni Collette) is a successful, slightly overweight lawyer who lacks self-confidence in her looks, while Maggie (Cameron Diaz) is an irresistible party girl who takes nothing seriously. As most flicks about such siblings go, the two sisters bring each other nothing but trouble, as when Maggie sleeps with a potential boyfriend of Rose's, leading Rose to boot her free-loading sister out of her house. Things then take a heart-warming turn when Maggie heads off to find her estranged grandmother (Shirley MacLaine), and, as the two sisters spend time apart, we see them grow, transforming the story into a lesson in maturity.
With his latest film, director Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting," "Shallow Grave") demonstrates almost as much skill at creating a modern fairy tale as he does portraying the nitty-gritty in his previous films. Damian (Alex Etel) and Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) are two young brothers living with their dad (James Nesbitt) in Manchester. One day, while hanging out in a handmade cardboard hideout by the side of a railway track, £230,000 falls out of the sky. As the British pound is about to be replaced by the new Euro, the cash had been on its way to the incinerator. The change-over will take place in 12 days, so the two brothers must go through the money as quickly as possible. How to go about doing it? (Kaori Shoji)