Director: Lucky McKee. With Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto, Anna Faris, Nichole Hiltz. (93 min.)
Sterritt *** A lonely, crazy young woman works at a veterinarian's office and lives in a fantasy world that's not too harmful to others until her "best friend" doll is destroyed and she decides to replace it with a modern-day Frankenstein monster of her own making. McKee's directing and screenwriting are unusually low-key for a psychological horror thriller, and Bettis is excellent as the disturbed antiheroine.
Director: Hou Hsiao-hsien. With Qi Shu, Chun-hao Tuan, Yi Hsuan-chen, Jack Kao. (105 min.)
Sterritt **** Looking back at her earlier life from the vantage point of 2010, a woman remembers her dreary relationship with a fiercely jealous boyfriend and the friendship with a small-time mobster that encouraged her to seek more freedom, resulting in creepy conflict between the two men. Hou combines his celebrated minutes-long shots with a brilliant use of exquisitely detailed close-ups, frustrating viewers looking for action and melodrama but deeply moving those interested in film's ability to capture the subtlest, most ephemeral human feelings. This is a great companion piece to Hou's masterly "Flowers of Shanghai" and fresh evidence of his status as Taiwan's greatest filmmaker. In Mandarin with English subtitles
Director: Terry Zwigoff. With Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Brett Kelly. (91 min.)
Staff ** "Bad Santa," indeed. With all the hype about this film, one may expect a dark, cynical comedy with some sort of commentary on the mass consumerism of the season. Sadly, moments like that are few. Instead, we get 93 minutes of Billy Bob Thornton drinking and pointlessly cussing in a Santa suit. This movie is as welcome as a lump of coal. By Adam Weiskind
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