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Movie Maven
by Gregg Shapiro

Limited runs:

@ The Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., 773/549-0500: The Teen-Age UFO Psycho Sex Monster Show Oct. 26. Dr. Butcher, M.D. - Medical Deviate Nov. 2. Cannibal Holocaust Nov. 9

@ Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312/742-8497: "International Dinner & A Movie" - Amarcord ( Italian cuisine served ) Nov. 12, Rashomon ( Japanese cuisine served ) Dec. 10

Read more story below....

@ Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W Fullerton, 773/281-4114: Dog Run Oct. 27

@ Gene Siskel Film Center ( 312/846-2800 ) - Happy Together Oct. 23, 24, Nightclubbing: Greatest Hits Oct. 25, 31, Time Regained Oct. 26, 27, Metropolis Oct. 28, 29, 30, 31

Appearance by filmmaker Kenneth Anger, in conjunction with Halloween program "Magick, Darkness and Devils," featuring the Midwest premier of his latest film The Man We Want To Hang ( Oct. 31 )

In theaters

Abandon ( Paramount/Spyglass ) --Blatant and repeated references are made to the title of this style-over-substance thriller, written and directed by Stephen Gaghan ( the man responsible for the Traffic screenplay ) . Katie ( Katie Holmes ) , an MBA candidate at a prestigious New England university, whose father abandoned her as a young child, copes with abandonment issues as almost all of the men she finds herself involved with think nothing of leaving her behind. A few years after her rich and rebellious boyfriend Embry ( gorgeous Charlie Hunnam of British Queer As Folk renown ) mysteriously disappears ( read: abandons Katie ) , his lawyers are eager to have him declared dead so that his substantial estate can be handled properly. First, they must deal with Wade Handler ( Benjamin Bratt ) , the new detective on the case. Wade soon finds himself becoming involved with Katie. Since Bratt and Hunnam don't abandon their clothes at any point during the movie, you'd be wise to abandon your plans to see this movie. Rating: 4.5/10

All The Queen's Men ( Atlantic Streamline ) --Matt LeBlanc stars in this cross-dressing comic drama, set in 1944, which is reminiscent of the World War II comedies from the 1960s and early 1970s. After escaping from behind enemy lines with an enigma, American Captain Steven O'Rourke ( Izzard ) is mistaken for an enemy agent and captured by British soldiers who destroy the "glorified typewriter." O'Rourke is then arrested for assaulting one of the British soldiers and sent to a military prison in Sussex. After making a name for himself at the prison, he is enlisted for the "poof platoon," British Intelligence agents conducting espionage in drag behind enemy lines. Assisting him on his mission, to infiltrate a former toy factory where the enigma machines are being assembled, are Tony ( Eddie Izzard ) , a drag performer in a gay bar; Archie ( James Cosmo ) , a pencil pusher put in charge of the platoon; and Johnno ( David Birkin ) , a bookworm and code specialist. Unexpectedly entertaining, All The Queen's Men takes a surprisingly sensitive approach to its queer subject matter. Rating: 6/10

Auto Focus ( Sony Pictures Classics ) --Paul ( American Gigolo ) Schrader directed this uneven bio-pic which is based on Robert Graysmith's book The Murder of Bob Crane. Crane ( played by Greg Kinnear ) is almost as equally well-known for his hit 1960s TV sitcom Hogan's Heroes as he is for the mystery surrounding his brutal murder in 1978. The movie begins in 1964 when Crane, a radio DJ, aspiring drummer and struggling actor, is given a script by his agent Lenny ( Ron Leibman ) for the TV series that would make him a household name. Meanwhile, the teetotaling Crane battles the inner sexually compulsive demons that threaten to break up his marriage to Anne ( Rita Wilson ) , the mother of his children. The demons eventually take a human form in John Carpenter ( an especially slimy Willem Dafoe ) , an electronics expert employed by Sony. Carpenter, a lady-killer with a bisexual streak, opens a door into the sexual underground and the world of video sex for Crane, while plying him with liquor and drugs. Crane's downfall is gradual and ugly and includes two divorces, alienation from his children, embarrassing public scenes, tabloid headlines, and his ultimate inability to find work in his field. Rating: 6.5/10

Heaven ( Miramax ) --A stunning portrait of the extremes to which people are driven when it comes to love, Heaven finally justifies the acclaim that actress Cate Blanchett has received over the years. Blanchett plays Philippa, a British woman who teaches at a school in Turin, Italy. Since she has been a teacher, she has watched the destructive effect that the narcotics problem plaguing the city has had on her young students. Additionally, her own husband died of a drug overdose. When Philippa's attempts at making contact with local law enforcement officials, to tell them what she knows about the man ( the president of an electronics company ) behind the drug trade, go unheeded she takes matters into her own hands, leaving a bomb in the wastebasket in the man's office. Little does she know that after she leaves the building, and calls the police to tell them of the bomb planting, identifying herself in the course of the phone call, that her plans have gone awry. It turns out that a cleaning lady has emptied the contents of the wastebasket into her cleaning cart and after she gets into an elevator with a father and his two young daughters, the bomb explodes, killing all four of them. Philippa is then arrested and taken in for interrogation. The series of amazing events that unfold after that, including the unusual relationship that Filippo ( Giovanni Ribisi ) , an English- speaking court reporter that acts as Philippa's interpreter and eventual rescuer, can only be described as pure Tom Tykwer ( Run Lola Run ) ; he has outdone himself here with his film adaptation of a screenplay by the late filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski. Haunting and harrowing, Heaven rises above nearly every other film this year on the strength of Blanchett and Ribisi's raw performances and Tykwer's gifts as a director. Rating: 9/10

Punch-Drunk Love ( Columbia ) --Paul Thomas Anderson's latest cinematic creation scales down his usually massive ensemble cast to what is basically an intimate, but no less bizarre, story of love and compassion. Social misfit Barry Egan ( Adam Sandler ) is an independent businessman with seven meddling and manipulative sisters and not a shred of privacy. He has a reputation for having a lethal temper, which he has exhibited in front of his sisters ( he apparently went ballistic when they asked him if he was gay ) as well as on the phone in business matters. One lonely night, Barry calls a phone-sex line and the woman on the other end of the line proceeds to take advantage of him, calling him at work and threatening to blackmail him. Just as this unpleasantness begins, one of his sisters introduces him to Lena ( Emily Watson ) , a woman with whom she works. Barry attempts to take control of the blackmail situation, going to Utah to have a face-to-face confrontation with his blackmailers ( which include Anderson regular Philip Seymour Hoffman ) , all the while doing his level best to court Lena. It's to writer/director Anderson's credit that he has found a way to make Sandler's man-boy shtick work so well to his advantage. Full of Anderson's unusual assortment of unusual images and eccentric plot twists, Punch-Drunk Love packs a wallop. Rating: 8.5/10

On TV:

In The Life--Hosted by openly gay fashion designer John Bartlett, America's award-winning, gay and lesbian television newsmagazine series presents a one-hour program consisting of feature stories on: the dog-mauling death of Diane Whipple and the "wrongful death lawsuit and its affect on California law regarding gay and lesbian couples"; an interview with Family Fundamentals documentary filmmaker Arthur Dong; queer house of worship; the hit Broadway musical Hairspray; and Harvey Fierstein's "Out Takes" commentary segment, among other topics. ( Oct. 27, WTTW-Channel 11 )

Sundance Channel: Won't Anybody Listen ( Seventh Art ) --More than 10 years ago bisexual singer/songwriter Frank Rogala and his brother Vince left their native Michigan to seek fame and fortune in an L.A.-based rock band called NC-17. Documentary director Dov Kelemer attempts to expose the underbelly of the business with this overly long film about dashed hopes and persistence. Also showing, Wave Twisters. ( Oct. 25 @ 8PM )

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