BRIGHT STAR | Jane Campion's exquisitely wrought film chronicles the painfully chaste courtship between poet John Keats and neighbor Fanny Brawne in England circa 1818. A few sentences written to a person of the opposite sex was the 19th-century equivalent of buying somebody a drink followed by "Your place or mine?" today. How did we get from this feverish belief in the power and beauty of language to the insipid immediacy of "social-networking sites?"
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
VINCERE | Marco Bellocchio tells the harrowing, recently unearthed true tale of Ida Dalser, who fell for the young Mussolini and bore him a son. The future Il Duce married Ida and recognized their child, only to wipe out the evidence when it no longer meshed with his ambitions.
THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS | Terry Gilliam here taps into the power of special effects. Having Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell step in to play slight variations on the late Heath Ledger's character, Tony, was a stroke of genius that salvaged — and may even have enriched — this uneven but mostly captivating film.
TAKING WOODSTOCK | Ang Lee's guilty pleasure is two hours of bittersweet mayhem based on the true adventures of Elliot Tiber, who in 1969 stepped in with his $1 permit to stage a music festival when the original site fell through.
A TOWN CALLED PANIC | Like reverting to childhood and playing in a sandbox for 75 minutes, this Belgian stop-action animated feature puts generic plastic toys Cowboy, Indian, and Horse through manic, surreal paces. A terrific antidote to the onslaught of 3-D CGI for people who get a headache (yes, even from the "new" technology) or who just plain love classic animation with a frenetic pace.
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