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NEW RELEASES - Highlights: November 15

FRESH FROM THE THEATERS

The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005).

"The Beat That My Heart Skipped is, in a way, all about Romain Duris's performance," wrote David Hudson at the Daily when he caught the film in Berlin earlier this year. "To the great pleasure of the audience, he doesn't simply carry the film, he drives it. Sure, there are moments when he goes over the top, but that urge is inherent to the entire project, a remake of James Toback's Fingers and, I'd argue, one of those rare remakes that surpasses the original. Roars past, headlights flashing, horn honking."

The Edukators (2004).

Thanks to Good Bye, Lenin!, and now, The Edukators, the first German film to screen at Cannes in years, young actor Daniel Brühl is quickly becoming one of the all-too-few internationally recognizable faces of German film, an ambassador along the order of a Franka Potente. And given the accolades for her recent performance as Nazi resistor Sophie Scholl in a film of the same name, Julia Jentsch may well be on her way to the same aura of starlight. Interesting, then, that many critics in Germany have singled out the relatively unknown Stipe Erceg for particular praise, though, of course, they've lavished praise (as well as awards and nominations) on all three and on director Hans Weingartner.

Happy Endings (2005).

"The plot, which follows three occasionally colliding stories, is a messy pileup of convenience and contrivance, but damn it all, I didn't mind a lick," wrote Kimberley Jones in the Austin Chronicle. "Happy Endings is unabashedly sentimental (cheekily couched in a black-comic guise), with [director Don] Roos acting as a sort of benevolent god over his characters."

The terrific cast features Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lisa Kudrow, Steve Coogan and, in a surprisingly sensitive turn, Tom Arnold.

The Skeleton Key (2005).

"Much better than any other movie in the mystery/other-worldly genre of the past few years, The Skeleton Key may not seem particularly terrific as it quietly moves along. Not bad, mind you, but not fabulous," writes talltale. "Yet, due to good performances, decent dialog and atmosphere, you'll probably stick with it. Then in the rush of its climax and denouement, I think you will be astounded: first at the surprise, and then at how all the pieces fit together. I don't recall another film that kept me going back - then back even further - rethinking/refiguring what I'd just witnessed."

FOREIGN

The Last Round (1976).

"Stelvio Massi's The Last Round is an unusual little number," writes Todd at Twitch, "an Italian reworking of A Fistful of Dollars that includes such obvious details as the music box but updates the film as a violent, sexualized mob thriller directed by a man who helped shoot Leone's spaghetti classic a dozen years earlier [and] starring a Frenchman as the mob boss and a former Argentinean boxing champion in the Eastwood role as a righteous drifter with, ironically, a dislike of guns."

CLASSICS

The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (1920s and 30s).

"From a 21st century perspective, Harold Lloyd has the bittersweet position of always being included in a list of the top funnymen from the silent-film era, but never being the first choice," wrote Geoff Boucher in the Los Angeles Times recently. "Lloyd's calling card was impeccable comic timing and a sense of farce that sought its setup in the life of the ordinary. Chaplin the Tramp was an outsider, and Keaton seemed to be otherworldly at times, but Lloyd was a bespectacled and spunky Average Joe; in fact, he wore glasses the way Clark Kent did, to hide his handsome face enough to make him more apt to blend into the crowd." Even so: "There was nothing ordinary about the machinations of his gags."

See also: Our Silent Comedy primer.

Volume 2.

Volume 3.

COMEDY

Open House (2004).

"Directed by Dan Mirvish, Open House is a funny, fast paced and above all very unique film," writes Jim Agnew in Film Threat. "A film filled with interesting and hilarious songs about real estate that you won't be able to get out of your head. Who would have guessed real estate could actually be fun for someone other than a real estate agent in one of those ugly golden jackets?"

With Anthony Rapp, James Duval, the great Sally Kellerman and Jerry Doyle.

And don't miss Jonathan Marlow's interview with Dan Mirvish.

Dutch Girls (1985).

Twenty years ago now, Colin Firth, Timothy Spall and Bill Paterson starred in this British teen comedy about a hockey chasing, that's right, Dutch girls.

GAY AND LESBIAN

Almost Normal (2004).

"The basic premise," explained Philip Martin in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (which we refer to because director Marc Moody grew up in Little Rock, where the film saw its debut), "mildly reminiscent of Francis Ford Coppola's 1986 film Peggy Sue Got Married, has Brad (Andrew Keitch), an unhappily unattached gay man on the cusp of his 40th birthday, magically returning to his even unhappier high school days. Only this time around, almost everyone is gay. And so, for a while at least, Brad is normal. Then he reconnects with the high school version of his best friend Julie (Joan Laukner). And he gets these feelings that push him toward violating certain societal taboos...."

DOCUMENTARY

Point of Order (1964).

It's high time the work of Emile de Antonio begins to appear on DVD. "[F]rom 1964 until his death in 1989, he made some of the left's most important political documentaries," wrote David Greenberg in Slate last year. "A radical Marxist and bon vivant, de Antonio was a man of passions and intensities that make Michael Moore look like Tom Ridge.... De Antonio's first movie, Point of Order (1964) was a fairly straightforward record of the televised 1954 Senate hearings that helped bring down the witch-hunting Sen. Joe McCarthy."

Doubly interesting, then, if you've seen Good Night, and Good Luck.

ANIME

Gantz Volume 9: Judge, Jury and Executioner (2005).

This summer, Battie went back to update her original review of the first volume: "The first two episodes were largely off-putting, thanks to my initial repulsion to characters who seemed very immoral and the overall perverse tone it sometimes took, but watching a little longer gave much more insight into the main characters and the reasons behind their actions and thoughts. It also made it necessary to keep watching."

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 6: Captured Souls (2005).

"This show is fun!" exclaims Cosplayer. "There's some genuine drama in there too. I like it!"

Elfen Lied Vector 4(2005).

"Elfen Lied just climbed to the top of my favorite animes list," wrote Battie after seeing the first volume.

Adds drseid: "While very gory and a tad over-rated, Elfen Lied still delivers the goods and is recommended to all but the kiddies. It combines sci-fi, with lots of action and coming-of-age romance tension. There's something for everyone here!"

Browse the New Releases Archive for more recent arrivals.

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