Week of January 21, 2004

Gemini (unrated) Shinya Tsukamoto. Based on a short story by Edogawa Ranpo (the pen name for an Edgar Allan Poe admirer), this physical and psychological nightmare intertwines lives of an ex-army doctor, his disapproving mother with a weak heart, his adoptive but detached father and his amnesiac wife whose entire family perished in a fire. As the camera translates jangled nerves and unstable individuals to jittery movement, or complements calm conviction with unyielding stillness, director Tsukamoto unreels this tale with brief flashbacks gradually illuminating perplexing behavior. Set in the early twentieth century, Japan's late Meiji Period, Gemini uses ideologically different twins to critique class and the literal life-and-death benefits status confers in a hierarchical society afflicted with disease and crime-ridden slums. Strong art direction (scenes suffused with orange or blue light), unnerving and unearthly music, and fine, stylized acting give this challenging film uniquely haunting qualities and philosophical import. In Japanese with English subtitles. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 27, in the Lewis Room of the Fontbonne University Library, 6800 Wydown. Call 314-719-8061 for more information. (Diane Carson)

Seaside (unrated) Julie Lopes-Curval. Over four seasons, Cayeux changes from a resort destination to an ordinary, even stifling, town where sorting decorative beach pebbles on a drab assembly line is the major industry and the central metaphor for the negative emotions caused by interconnected conflicts. Meandering among twelve residents, Seaside's episodic narrative reveals distressed, adrift individuals: Marie is enervated by her factory work and by her boyfriend Paul, a lackadaisical lifeguard. Paul's unstable mother gambles compulsively in the local casino, foolishly risking savings and home. Two ex-friends reconnect through sadness while a philandering, disenfranchised factory owner and his too-patient wife nourish their own pain. A fashion shoot on a pebble beach, kite flying and a shark report minimally divert attention in co-writer/director Julie Lopes-Curval's accomplished first feature. Slowly paced but astutely aware of the minutiae defining lives, Seaside never overwhelms with bombastic action but does impress with careful, subtle observation. In French with English subtitles. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, January 30, through Sunday, February 1, in the 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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