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December 2007


US-rated R; German release date: December 20
To Michael Caine, working on Sleuth must have seemed like an odd case of dejà vu: It isn’t often that an actor remakes one of his films after thirty years, and plays his original character’s enemy. Caine takes over the part of aging novelist Andrew Wyke, first portrayed by Laurence Olivier in 1972. In this new version, Jude Law plays Caine’s youthful counterpart, unsuccessful actor Milo Tindle. Tindle shows up one day at Wyke’s luxurious estate and demands that the older man grant his wife a divorce. Wyke refuses, but appears interested in toying with the man who has lured his trophy wife away from him. Tindle, for his part, is hardly a model of virtue either. The two become entangled in a cat and mouse game that takes a deadly turn. No less than Nobel laureate Harold Pinter scripted the appropriately witty dialogue and requisite plot twists. Directed by Kenneth Branagh Sleuth will particularly charm lovers of biting British humor.

The Darjeeling Limited
US-rated R; German release date: January 3
Francis Whitman (Owen Wilson) sees a spiritual journey across vibrant Indian landscapes as the road to reconnection with his younger siblings (Oscar-winner Adrien Brody and Jason Schwarztman). Such a story could easily fall victim to the clichés of yoga obsession or enlightenment tourism, but writer and director Wes Anderson steers the The Darjeeling Limited away from those murky waters. As in Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums and the The Life Aquatic, Anderson examines damaged family lives with a sense of whimsy, humor and bittersweet compassion. Vivid set design and the eclectic soundtrack of traditional Indian music and American guitars complete Anderson’s unique film cosmos, which has repeatedly delighted broad audiences. Another treat is the 13-minute short Hotel Chevalier, which will be shown as a prologue to the Whitmans’ tale. Here, the youngest brother Jack (Jason Schwartzman) meets up with his ex-lover (Natalie Portman) in a Paris hotel. An erotic interlude ensues, which Jack will recount to his brothers later in the feature film. This gimmick may only intensify the lack of focus that pervades the feature film. Nevertheless, The Darjeeling Limited is a powerful emotional comedy marked by Anderson’s peculiar ability to take a lovingly ironic view of his characters’ imperfections. <<<

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