Film Openings

Week of April 13, 2005

Academy Award-Nominated Shorts 2005. This year's program includes three animated shorts (the United States' Gopher Broke, Australia's Birthday Boy and Canada's Ryan) and four live-action shorts (Spain's 7:35 in the Morning, New Zealand's Two Cars, One Night, India's Little Terrorist and the U.K.'s Wasp). (Not Reviewed)

The Amityville Horror. (R) A remake of the 1979 scare-fest, Horror pays another visit to the blood-spattered DeFeo residence. Do demonic voices still make for less-than-desirable real estate? We'd tend to think so. (Not Reviewed)

Dear Frankie. (PG-13) Shona Auerbach's quiet drama about a deaf nine-year-old (Jack McElhone) in small-town Scotland manages, for the most part, to avoid the usual traps -- emotional manipulation and outright sentimentality. The hanky count will get up there for some, but Auerbach never pushes it. The boy can lip-read, but his real lifeline is a series of letters he writes to his absent father, whom he believes to be away at sea. Truth be told (but not to Frankie), his mother Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) is in retreat from his abusive dad, and she's the one responding to the boy's plaintive letters. The charade cannot last, of course, and when Lizzie concocts a scheme to shield her son from reality, there are useful complications. Happily, the director and writer Andrea Gibb treat little Frankie with as much dramatic respect as the grown-up characters, and he saves the movie from killing sweetness. With Gerard Butler as the anonymous sailor Lizzie hires to stand in as the boy's dad. (Bill Gallo)

Down and Derby. (PG) Reviewed in this issue.

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