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  • Issue of
  • Apr 25 - May 1, 2007
  • Vol. 27, No. 28

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • In the Land of Women

    Adam Brody stars as Carter, a hack screenwriter who flees tinsel town for Michigan, to care for his aging grandmother and to recapture his groove. Back in a lush little Eden of manicured lawns, shiny new cars and gorgeous, fragile people, he's found the perfect place to shake out the creative cobwebs and to get over a crushing breakup, a task complicated by the pair of age-inappropriate love interests living just across the street.
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  • The Scene
  • Fires on the Plain

    In Japanese director Kon Ichikawa’s 1959 classic Fires on the Plain, survival is a curse, the ultimate purgatory. Charting the long, uncertain journey of a rogue World War II soldier from a decimated platoon as he wanders across a Philippine island, the movie is like a sustained howl; there’s nothing thrilling about wasting away. The main character, the dumbfounded soldier Tamura (Eiji Funakoshi), has been turned away from both his troop and a makeshift hospital because he has tuberculosis. He wanders the countryside, foraging for food, encountering natives both mercenary and innocuous, and falling into and out of other Japanese platoons. What comedy there is comes from pitch-black irony: He survives the American attacks on the Japanese only because no one group wants him.
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  • The Scene
  • Mafioso

    Alberto Lattuada’s Mafioso is a forgotten comic gem that's sneakier than it first seems. Uptight Fiat foreman Antonio Badalementi (Fellini stalwart Alberto Sordi) gathers up his wife and kids, and heads south to vacation in native Sicily. Though he’s been away from home for many years, the old country fills Antonio with a giddy sense of nostalgia, inspiring inane boasts (“island of sun and Cyclops, inspiration to all the poets!”) and outbursts of song. Once he’s there, however, his kinfolk seem more like inbred carnies than beloved famiglia. Eventually his affection for the old ways leads Antonio to the home of a local crime boss, Don Vincenzo (Ugo Attanasio), for whom he did favors as a boy. The casual reunion turns into a family debt, and before you (and Antonio) know it, the dark undercurrent of Sicilian machismo and cold-blooded honor takes over.
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  • The Scene
  • Vacancy

    The concept here is pretty much the same as any wrong-turn horror flick that’s been made since in the last 20 years. But as tempting as it is to lump Vacancy in with its “peers,” it’s a significant notch above them. It’s a grim, nasty little movie, expertly crafted to twist your gut into a knot and keep it there for 80 minutes. It helps that screenwriter Mark L. Smith has at least one killer idea up his sleeve. Not only do the unhappily stranded David (Luke Wilson) and Amy (Kate Beckinsale) find themselves checked into a motel where you don’t check out; they’re also being filmed by a perverse snuff-film auteur (Frank Whaley, looking like a refugee from a ’70s John Waters film) who relishes every squirm.
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