Cinemascope

BROADWAY: THE GOLDEN AGE Rick McKay’s movie is the heart-stopping two-hour documentary “Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There.” If you think I’m kidding about your heart skipping a beat or two, just wait until there suddenly jumps out at you from the screen a little touch of Julie Harris in “The Member of the Wedding” (1951-52), of Kim Stanley in “Bus Stop” (1955), of Marlon Brando and Jessica Tandy in “Streetcar” (1947), of Gwen Verdon, of “West Side Story,” and of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” City Cinemas Village East, City Cinemas Sutton I 7 II. (J. Tallmer)

COFFEE AND CIGARETTES Indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch challenges the notion that anything in life is “larger than life” with “Coffee and Cigarettes,” a series of short films on a unified theme: the humble coffee break, with its requisite small talk, accompanying cigarettes, and absolute normality. Bringing together an all-star cast including Iggy Pop, the White Stripes, Bill Murray, Roberto Benigni, Steve Buscemi, and Wu Tang’s GZA and RZA, Jarmusch treads over the same ground with featherlight precision and resists letting “Coffee and Cigarettes” become a sight gag; a skilled magician, he distracts the viewer with this fun pretense while delving into deeper issues like the meaning of family, and the idea of fame as something that both opens doors and creates prisons. Cinema Village, New York 1 & 2. (W. McCroy)

THE CORPORATION Hollywood typically refrains from producing overtly political films for a simple reason—in order to make money, a project needs to appeal to the widest possible selection of viewers. The reluctance to produce political films is harder to understand, however, in the indie arena, though there are rare exceptions. Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott have adapted the film “The Corporation” from Joel Bakan’s book “The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit Of Profit and Power.” It examines the legal notion of the corporation as a person, a notion that emerged after the Civil War by the 14th Amendment, intended to benefit newly freed African Americans. Instead, it was used mostly to defend corporations. While these companies had the rights of individuals, they had no moral accountability or national allegiance. As “The Corporation” relates this history of business profiting from reforms aimed at enhancing individual rights, it examines the corporation for signs of mental illness. Film Forum. (S. Erickson)

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND Written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry, “Eternal Sunshine” shows a fascination with the byways of memory and the infinite possibilities of the editing room. Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) meet twice, first before the opening credits, the second time well into the film. Depressed about Valentine’s Day coming up, Joel takes the Long Island Railroad out to Montauk. There he meets a blue-haired woman, Clementine, in a coffee shop. They wind up going home together. We learn that both Clementine and Joel were customers of the company which erases one’s memories of a particular person. Joel and Clementine’s relationship forms the prologue and epilogue to the film’s real meat: the night in which Joel’s memories are wiped from his mind. City Cinemas Village East. (S. Erickson)

FACING WINDOWS Ferzan Ozpetek’s films are all imbued with a philosophy that categories of sexual orientation are suspect. In “Steam: The Turkish Bath” (1998), a married Italian architect inherits a bathhouse in Istanbul, goes there to sell it, and winds up falling in love with a young man. In 2001’s “His Secret Life” (also known as “Ignorant Fairies”), a happily married man crosses the street only to get run over by two cars traveling in opposite directions. His distraught wife learns her spouse was leading a double life. He had a male lover plus a whole bunch of transvestite pals. Nw in “Facing Windows,” a young woman who’s a poultry inspector with two kids and a lackadaisical hubby finds her life change for the better when an old, Jewish homosexual chef with Alzheimer’s disease winds up moving into her apartment initially against her will. Nominated for 12 Italian Oscars, the film went home with Best Film, Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Music. Quad Cinema, City Cinemas Sutton 1 and 2, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas (B. Judell)

LET’S GET FRANK The Barney Frank you see in “Let’s Get Frank”—the witty, nervy, peacock-proud 12-term Massachusetts Congressman exchanging rapier thrusts with Henry Hyde and the massed anti-Clintonian forces of darkness during the asshole1998 impeachment hearings in the House Judiciary Committee—is very far from the scared, lonely Bayonne, New Jersey, 12-year-old of 47 years earlier, trying to figure out why he gets no charge from the pictures of sexy women the other guys are passing around. “There I was, at 13, part of the most detested minority in the world, fully believing I could never tell anybody in the world about it in my life,” he said. But the Barney Frank in “Let’s Get Frank,” Bart Everly’s peppery 75-minute documentary—at Film Forum through July 27—is about as unrepressed a counter-punching happy warrior as anyone could ever wish for. Film Forum. (J. Tallmer)

WHITE CHICKS “White Chicks,” the latest movie starring Shawn and Marlon Wayans, and directed by their brother Keenan Ivory, is particularly prone for a feminist analysis. atire is the favorite way for these brothers to communicate (think “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” and “Scary Movie”) and they tend to base their jokes on contemporary attitudes about class, race, sexuality, and gender. “White Chicks” experiments with all of these, since Shawn and Marlon’s characters Kevin and Marcus start off as middle-income, black, straight men and temporarily transform themselves into wealthy, white, sexually ambivalent women. Although the film is chock-full of class and race parodies, gender and sexuality issues take center stage, and the film joins a large collection of mainstream gender-disguise movies that examine, but then reinforce heterosexual identities. (S. Cosgrove)

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