GAY SEX IN THE 70S Joseph Lovett’s film covers the sexually explosive 12-year period (1969-1981) between Stonewall and the onset of AIDS. Straightforward, funny, and titillating at the same time, this collection of memoirs are conveyed with humor and perspective. For those who have come of age in the era of safe sex and gay marriage, the film may present a startling revelation of what everyday life was like. Quad Cinema.
JESUS IS MAGIC Sarah Silverman, who has been compared to the legendary Lenny Bruce, is both funny and provocative. She treats taboo topics like September 11, unwanted body hair, and the Holocaust with equal weight, and spins them into politically incorrect gold. As she says in the film, “When God gives you AIDS, (and God does give you AIDS, by the way) make LemonAIDS.” Opens Nov. 11.
BALLETS RUSSES “Ballets Russes” usefully renovates a neglected eminence, chronicling the company’s history from its origins in 1909 as the inspiration of Sergei Diaghilev, the polymath Russian expatriate, who drew Matisse, Picasso, and Stravinsky into orbit around the nucleus of choreographers Mikhail Fokine, Léonide Massine, and dancer Vaslav Nijinksy. The highly wrought, relentlessly chronological script manages the feat of compressing an 80-year international history related by nearly two dozen characters into exactly two vacuum-packed hours. Yet, it would have been more valuable still had it accurately conveyed the company’s uniquely progressive queer reality. Film Forum through Nov. 8. (Ioannis Mookas)
Paradise Now The act of suicide turns a person’s life into a giant question mark. For suicide bombers, it’s doubly true. Rightly or wrongly, everything in their life is seen as a prelude. This makes the suicide bomber a difficult character to fictionalize. Palestinian-born, Dutch-based director Hany Abu-Assad is certainly aware of the pitfalls. In fact, he may be too conscious of them. Landmark Sunshine, Lincoln Plaza. (Steve Erickson)
KISS KISS BANG BANG Why does Shane Black hate gay people so much? “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” which he wrote and directed, features a queer character called Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), who says sarcastically, that he keeps the moniker, because, “I just like the name.” Of course, if audiences are not sure about this tough guy’s sexuality, well, his cell phone ring is a disco version of the song, “I Will Survive.” Loews Village 7, Loews 19th Street, UA Court Street. (Gary M. Kramer)
INNOCENCE Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s film opens with a rumbling sound and a series of puzzling images. Eventually, a coffin is transferred through a passageway. It arrives in a house, leading to the “birth” of a nearly naked six-year-old girl, Iris (Zoé Auclair). She’s just entered a strange, isolated boarding school, peopled entirely by young girls; the oldest are just about to enter puberty.. Anyone who tries escaping from the school will be forced to remain there as a servant. Hadzihalilovic films water like Robert Mapplethorpe photographed flowers. Her images of it carry a near-fetishistic charge. Cinema Village (Steve Erickson)
THE PROTOCOLS OF ZION Director Marc Levin’s impetus for “Protocols of Zion” came when he heard an Egyptian-born cab driver state that no Jews died in the World Trade Center attack, and mentioned “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” as truth. The book, alleged to be the product of Jewish conspirators planning to take over the world, was actually written in 1905 by agents of the Russian czar. This film shines a valuable light on the anti-Semitism flourishing today. It suffers from a lack of analysis, though, hobbled by a scattershot, sound bite mentality. Angelika, Lincoln Plaza. (Steve Erickson)
CAPOTE Yes, in “Capote,” Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a terrific—call it Oscar-worthy —performance channeling gay writer Truman Capote. He has the author’s mannerisms down pat, his voice expertly attuned to delivering witty bon mots. It’s a perfect role for the actor/chameleon and he plays it to the hilt. It is beautifully filmed, with gorgeous landscapes and the crisp cinematography of Adam Kimmel. But does it all have to be so airless? (Gary M. Kramer).
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK “Good Night, and Good Luck” painstakingly recreates a brief, shining moment in television history when the indefatigable Edward R. Murrow brought down Senator Joseph McCarthy, the right-wing Republican loose cannon from Wisconsin who ruined lives by branding innocent citizens as Communists with no proof. As a testament to George Clooney’s skillful tenacity, “Good Night, and Good Luck” is as entertaining as it is weighty. (David Kennerley)
THE SQUID AND THE WHALE Set in 80s Brooklyn, Noah Baumbach’s film follows a family of four through a separation. Bernard (Jeff Daniels) is an aging writer whose career is going nowhere, while his wife Joan (Laura Linney) is about to publish her first novel. Daniels delivers his best work in years, perfectly capturing his character’s blithe self-absorption, assumptions of entitlement, and half-concealed issues with women and children. (Steve Erickson).
NINE LIVES Director Rodrigo Garcia brings to the big screen another of his trademark montage pieces, the star-studded release “Nine Lives.” Garciahas fashioned a collection of vignettes that capture a pivotal moment in the lives of nine women. Although the sketches seem at first unrelated, as the film progresses it becomes clear how each of these woman’s stories and lives are linked in some way. Village East, Paris Theatre. (Winnie McCroy)