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Friday, Jan. 6, 2006

Short takes: Jan. 7, 2006

As it is in Heaven

Director: Kay Pollak
Language: Swedish, English and Italian
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

Eighteen years after his excellent film "Love me!" Swedish director Kay Pollak is back with a stirring human drama that has become a record hit in Sweden. Successful conductor Daniel (Michael Nyqvist), exhausted by his busy life, throws fame away and returns to his home village. At first he hides himself in the countryside's solitude, but then he is asked to teach the local church chorus, where he meets people doing their best just to get through life's daily ordeals.

Through coaching chorus members, including the young Lena (Frida Hallgren), Daniel regains his passion for music, and his love for life.

Chicken Little

Director: Mark Dindal
Language: English
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

In Disney's first in-house, all-CGI animated film, Chicken Little gets the whole town into a panic by mistaking a falling acorn for a piece of the sky. After the incident, poor Little becomes the butt of his fellow townsmen's jokes.

As he tries to restore his reputation and things begin to look up, a real piece of the sky hits his head. Now, together with his misfit friends, Abby, Runt of the Litter and Fish Out of Water, Chicken Little must figure out how to really save the world.

The Cave of the Yellow Dog

Director: Bayambasuren Davaa
Language: Mongolian
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

In a village with just one school, one shop and one telephone, director Bayambasuren Davaa got a Mongolian nomad family to participate in a film that is part documentary, part fiction. The openness of their faces and the force in their eyes are striking, and 6-year-old Nansa (Nansal Batchuluun), who reputedly did not understand what in the world a camera was, steals every scene.

The story revolves around a friendship between Nansa and a stray dog, but the movie is really about innocence, gratitude and genuine joy -- all the things that city-dwellers seem to have lost a long time ago. The splendor of the tall grass blowing in the wind and the Mongolian plains that stretch all the way to the horizon will make you feel gluttonous for space, wind -- and horse-back riding. (Kaori Shoji)


Director: Christopher Renshaw
Language: English
Currently showing
[See Japan Times movie listings]

A musical tribute to the 1980s London club scene where Boy George and his band Culture Club lorded over all in their outrageously made-up glory, "Taboo" is fun, irreverent and sizzling hot.

Starring Euan Morton as the young Boy George, and Boy George himself as the club scenester Leigh Bowery, the film is packed with all the witty, stinging one-liners you'd expect. Back then during the New Romantic boom, camp was still spanking new, sex and drugs were prerequisites and self-destructive performance acts (in both clubs and the privacy of homes) were the order of the day.

Fans of the legendary Mud Club in London will weep to see it resurrected with Morton's Boy George on stage singing "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" (Kaori Shoji)

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