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Capsule reviews 

At All Costs; Close-Up; Eeny Meeny; The Jazzman From the Gulag; Mask of Desire; Handsome Arno; Nowhere to Hide; Our Song; Return of the Idiot; Seduced and Abandoned; This Years Love; Trixie; Voyages; Wisconsin Death Trip


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Friday, April 21, 9:30 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Friday, April 28, 4:30 p.m., PFA; Sunday, April 30, 6:30 p.m., AMC Kabuki

No Coffee, No T.V., No Sex

(Switzerland, 1999)

Handsome Arno (Vincent Coppey) is emotionally distant, abstaining from love and life. Attractive Nina (Alexandra Tiedemann) is in love with his best friend, Maurizio. Naturally, Arno and Nina fall for each other: They're both good-looking, you see. Writer/director Romed Wyder's ménage à trois tarts up a standard story of a guy Recalled to Life. How will Arno and Nina's upcoming marriage of convenience (Nina needs a work permit and Maurizio's already in a sham marriage of his own) affect everyone? Like you care. After much misery, it all works out, and Arno learns that he is Capable of Love. The film's slacker/boho atmosphere can be seductive, but nothing else is. (Joe Mader)

Friday, April 21, 7:15 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Sunday, April 23, 9:45 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Saturday, April 29, 2 p.m., Rafael

Nowhere to Hide (South Korea, 1999)

This action movie, with its lurid colors, stylistic filigrees (including stop-motion and digital doodling), and comic book sensibilities, is vastly more entertaining than most similar American offerings. It also avoids the operatic pretentiousness of the (unjustly) admired Hong Kong flicks -- this film knows it's pop junk. The standard plot nonsense pits irresistible force Park Joong-Hoon (a cop with a hipster's slouch) against the immovable object of An Sung-Ki, super-bad drug kingpin. In director Lee Myung-Se's world, snow doesn't blow, rain doesn't fall, and mud doesn't splash without really cool lighting. Nowhere to Hide is a blast. (Joe Mader)

Friday, April 21, 10:15 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Saturday, April 22, 10:15 p.m., PFA; Tuesday, April 25, 12:30 p.m., AMC Kabuki

Our Song (U.S.A., 1999)

Writer/director Jim McKay's film of three teenage girls in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, is sometimes heavy-handed. It features a litany of social ills -- teen pregnancy, absent fathers, asbestos-poisoned schools -- and some melodramatic plot points, but McKay has a beautiful rapport with his young (and unconventionally beautiful) actresses: Kerry Washington as Lanisha, Melissa Martinez as Maria, and Anna Simpson as Joycelyn. The naturalness with which they gossip, giggle, hurt, and comfort one another movingly reveals their relationships and struggles. The Jackie Robinson Center Steppers Marching Band also plays a prominent role. (The girls are members.) McKay avoids easy conclusions and judgments and gets at the truths of these lives. (Joe Mader)

Friday, April 21, 7 p.m., PFA; Saturday, April 22, 7:30 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Monday, April 24, 1 p.m., AMC Kabuki

Return of the Idiot (Czech Republic, 1999)

A simple fellow of the Dostoevskian variety descends upon a somber small-town family, serving as silent witness to its members' sexual secrets and lies and developing a nosebleed at every emotional upset (which is often). Writer/director Sasa Gedeon's stark drama is rife with Resnaisian flashbacks, Freudian symbolism, and Kafka-esque angst, all of it served up with the utmost earnestness, but the results are often compelling. (Matthew Stafford)

Sunday, April 23, 6:45 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Sunday, April 30, 9 p.m., AMC Kabuki

Seduced and Abandoned (Italy, 1963)

This isn't the melodrama the title implies, but rather a satire of middle-class Italian mores from Pietro Germi, a director whose legion of admirers includes Nicolas Ray, Federico Fellini, and Martin Scorsese. There's much bellowing in this over-the-top, slightly dated escapade, in which a young woman is seduced by her sister's fiance; when the family patriarch discovers his daughter's loss of virtue, he locks her in her room and sets out to restore her honor. Papa attempts to force the scoundrel to marry her, but the man protests that he's entitled to a virgin. In this sendup of Italian bureaucracy, the Catholic Church, and the hypocrisy of the Madonna/ whore double standard, even the notoriously late Italian railway doesn't escape Germi's artfully aimed lampoons. (Sura Wood)

Monday, April 24, 9:15 p.m., Castro

This Years Love (England, 1999)

The love lives of six British subterraneans (a tattoo artist, a rock musician, a dress designer, a painter, an intellectual, and a nerd) detach and dovetail in David Kane's lively, quasi-comic look at modern romance. The myriad accents are occasionally diffi-cult to navigate, but Kane's sense of color, cinematics, and London atmosphere is dazzling, the actors possess plenty of understated charisma, and Catherine McCormack, as Hannah the dress designer, is a star of the classic tradition. Moral: The right person may not be out there, but at least there are plenty of opportunities to find out. (Matthew Stafford)

Friday, April 21, 10 p.m., Castro; Friday, April 28, 9:45 p.m., Rafael

Trixie (U.S.A., 2000)

Alan Rudolph's new film centers on Trixie, a poorly educated security guard who dreams of being a cop and cracking a big case. Unfortunately, Rudolph's attempts at characterization extend only to Trixie's speech patterns -- nonstop malapropisms and redundancies ("I have an ace up my hole"; "Beating a dead horse to death"). Emily Watson as Trixie has a sweet Chicago accent and a sly look that implies some sort of gumption and smarts, even when the script keeps undermining her. Dermot Mulroney is also rather sweet as a clumsy lothario unaware of his failings, but this post-Fargo farrago is never more than a writer's conceit. (Joe Mader)

Monday, April 24, 7 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Wednesday, April 26, 4 p.m., AMC Kabuki

Voyages (France, 1999)

It's an audacious gamble and even, some might say, obscene, to make a film that presumes to imagine the repercussions of the Holocaust on elderly survivors half a century later. But it pays off marvelously here, as longtime Kieslowski collaborator Emmanuel Finkiel links three stories set in Poland, Paris, and Tel Aviv into a reverie on the relentless power of memory in everyday life. Constructed around three remarkably strong women, Voyages has a unique tension: It is contemplative without being the least bit hesitant. The viewer is invited to interpret every glance and every pause, and is rewarded accordingly. (Michael Fox)


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