Thursday Oct. 23
Ashes of Time Redux (2008): Even when Wong Kar Wai is making a martial arts fantasy, it still turns out to be a meditation on heartache and loss. This restored and retooled version of the 1994 film has some garishly amped-up colors and a plot that practically defies you to digest it. As usual for Kar Wai, though, just basking in the image and sound alone is pleasure enough. (Opens Friday).
Saturday Oct. 25
Hell Ride (2008): Compulsively watchable, even if all the posing gets old before the opening credits and the dialogue is so self-conscious that every line sounds like it was accompanied by an asterisk in the script. The storyline's chronology has been jumbled and reshuffled like bad Tarantino, but that is probably a good thing, since the movie would seem unbearably stupid if it played out in linear fashion. I had never heard of writer-director Larry Bishop before, and I can't say I now have any desire to seek out his earlier work. But every time I reached out to hit the stop button on the DVD player, another scene came along that kept me watching.
Sunday Oct. 26
No movies today. Did this instead (I'm the one wielding the bullhorn around the 9:45 mark).
Monday Oct. 27
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008): Essentially a Holocaust film for mature 13 year-olds, although that description feels too limiting and insulting to what writer-director Mark Herman has achieved in adapting John Boyne's seemingly unfilmable novel. You're constantly aware of the movie's failings, but the story refuses to allow you to pull away from it. The ending is like all of Schindler's List compacted into five minutes, accompanied by the most beautiful/horrifying score James Horner has ever composed. When the credits rolled, I had to sit in my seat for a bit and take a breath. (Opens Nov. 7).
Changeling (2008): A lot of critics have grumbled that Clint Eastwood's latest is too broad and obvious. What, like Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby weren't? Goes into darker territory than Eastwood has ever ventured into before, which says a lot. Perhaps overly ambitious in scope - as an epic look at 1920s Los Angeles, it falls way short - but there wasn't a moment in all of its 140 minutes when my attention drifted. Yes, it's occasionally manipulative - OK, more than occasionally - but if you want subtle, go watch Rohmer or something. (Opens Friday).