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"Beetle Queen," "Barking Water," More

The Auteurs Daily

"An expansive take on the world in miniature, Jessica Oreck's documentary debut pursues all angles on a novel subject — the Japanese obsession with insects — until it assumes a worldview." Eric Hynes in the Voice: "That such an approach could work for just about any aspect of existence — academia subsists on such blinkered, max-effort specialization — doesn't make its conviction of purpose any less admirable or, in the case of Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, anything short of bewitching."

More from Mike Hale (New York Times), Benjamin Mercer (L), Noel Murray (AV Club), Joshua Rothkopf (Time Out New York), Andrew Schenker (Slant), Michael Tully (Hammer to Nail) and James van Maanen. Stephen McNamee talks with Oreck for ioncinema. At Film Forum through Tuesday.

"Sterlin Harjo's films might be a tough sell to hardcore cinephiles," writes Dan Sallitt. "[T]hey tell emotionally direct stories that verge on sentimentalism, and their visuals aren't especially formally ambitious. Still, Harjo is one of the most appealing American directors to come along in recent years, and Barking Water, which premiered at Sundance 2009, is even better than his 2007 debut Four Sheets to the Wind." More from Stephen Holden (NYT) and David Fear (TONY). At MoMA through Monday.

Today's NYT features another round of films opening today at Tribeca Cinemas. Jeannette Catsoulis on Metropia: "With nods to Orwell, Kafka and the work of Terry Gilliam (particularly Brazil), [Tarik] Saleh, a former graffiti artist, paints the power of advertising and the omnipotence of multinationals in subterranean hues.... Visually and conceptually oppressive, the film is a seamless match of form and content. But that very synchronicity is also its main problem, exerting a near-tyrannical hold on atmosphere and stifling the film’s ability to move." Aaron Hillis for IFC: "Metropia concerns a newly paranoid Swedish everyman Roger (voiced by Vincent Gallo) as he begins to hear a voice in his head that isn't his own. In fact, it's Stefan's (enter [Alexander] Skarsgård), a company man who begins to have second thoughts about his government gig monitoring citizens and their inner thoughts. While on the set of True Blood, now shooting its third season, Skarsgård called me to talk Glögg parties, filthy cartoons, and his real-life stint as an anti-terrorist marine."

Jeannette Catsoulis: "The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle is like Clerks reimagined by William S Burroughs."

Daniel M Gold: "The Swimsuit Issue follows a crew of middle-aged men, not particularly buff or aquatic, as they train for a world championship in male 'synchro.' ... Predictable enough — The Full Monty meets Blades of Glory — the film, directed by Mans Herngren, is low-key and gently touches on issues not usually found in sports comedies: hard times, fragmented families, reverse discrimination. It’s the situations that are comical, not the characters."

And Mike Hale: "The British romantic comedy My Last Five Girlfriends, loosely based on the novel On Love by Alain de Botton, is all concept and very little comedy, beyond the occasional chuckle."

The Disposable Film Festival Bike-In Movie Screening happens tonight in San Francisco. At SF360, Adam Hartzell talks with the founders.

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