Week of February 18, 2004

Pulse (unrated) Kiyoshi Kurosawa. More moody than electrifying, more disjointed than dynamic, Kairo, translated as Pulse, raises essentialist questions about the porous separation of life here versus hereafter. Using the analogy of a computer program's dots that attract as they separate and repel as they draw close, the plot turns on the disappearance of Taguchi, a programmer who inexplicably failed to deliver a flower company's contracted software. Via desolate public transportation, through inhospitable surroundings, Harue and Kawashima search. Perplexing and shadowy images on computer screens and various cries for help lead to philosophical musings on urban alienation and loneliness, computers that seem to live and people who seem detached. Long takes and empty frames, jarring jump cuts, and bleak interior and exterior environments complement the theme. But at two hours running time, the deliberate pace becomes tedious, and tension dissipates as the characters' ennui extends to the audience. In Japanese with English subtitles. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 24, in the Lewis Room of the Fontbonne University Library, 6800 Wydown. Call 314-719-8061 for more information. (Diane Carson)

Girlhood (unrated) Liz Garbus. With immediacy and insight, the best documentaries open our eyes and our hearts to significant social and personal issues. Producer/director Liz Garbus does that and more in Girlhood, which particularizes statistics on violent juvenile females via two teenagers: Shanae, who at twelve stabbed a friend to death, and Megan, sixteen, who fled ten of eleven foster care facilities before committing an assault with a box cutter. Incarcerated in Maryland's Waxter Facility, the pair reveal multiple facets of their personalities in compelling footage shot over three years. Shanae and Megan bare vulnerable psyches in a painful series of crises: One family is not willing to accept the girl's release, another mother is slipping back into addiction. Change is hard-won and exhilarating when achieved, heartbreaking when elusive. Girlhood reveals humanity scarred and healing. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, February 20, through Sunday, February 22, in Moore Auditorium on the campus of Webster University, 470 E. Lockwood Avenue. Call 314-968-7487 for more information. (Diane Carson)

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