Film » Film: Previews and Reviews

Film—O—Rama: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Art of the Steal, The Ghost Writer, The Messenger, The Maid

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The New Orleans Film Society's Film-O-Rama continues with more foreign films and screenings of the European smash, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (9:30 p.m. Tue., 2:30 p.m. Wed. and 7 p.m. Thu.), a dark murder-mystery thriller involving an indomitable computer hacker, a disgraced journalist and a wealthy family with all sorts of skeletons and Nazis in its closets. Other holdovers include The Art of the Steal (2:30 p.m. Tue.), a documentary chronicling the outrageous appropriation of a priceless private art collection, and Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer (noon Tue. & Thu.)

  New films include The Messenger (7 p.m. Wed.), starring Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster (pictured) as Army soldiers assigned to inform next of kin of the deaths of soldiers. Harrelson is masterful as a cocky veteran of the relatively quick and simple first Iraq war who tries to mentor a traumatized hero of the current Iraq war. Foster and Harrelson deliver convincing performances as men hungry for the more valorous and adrenaline-driven aspects of combat but not well prepared to deal with all of the emotional dimensions of grief and loss. But some of the film's strongest scenes involve the wildly unpredictable reactions of people confronted with the loss of loved ones. Steve Buscemi's cameo is brilliant.

  The Korean film Mother is an odd murder mystery tale — offbeat, at times comic and often creepy. A long-widowed mother, Hye-ja predictably adores her not very bright son Do-joon, but her obsessive attention is beyond maternal, even if it's never physically incestuous. When he is accused of murdering a teenage girl, though he was too drunk to remember the night of the crime, she becomes his detective and lawyer. It's a unique and unpredictable thriller.

  It won two awards at Sundance, but The Maid stretches a simple story into a 90-minute feature. In her early 40s, Raquel (Catalina Saavedra) has missed the prime of her life working as a maid for the Valdes family. Though they are very kind and inclusive, she has mistaken intimate access to their lives for relationships of her own. She is often unsympathetic and resists the overtures of others, and the film is about her struggle to sort out her feelings as she unknowlingly makes a mess of her own life. Tickets $8.50 general admission, $6.50 members. — Will Coviello

Through April 29

Film-O-Rama

Prytania Theatre, 5339 Prytania St., 891-2787; www.neworleansfilmfest.com

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