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The Auteurs Daily: In Theaters, 10/16.

The Auteurs DailyThe Maid

Chances are, since the last time you looked, the entry for Where the Wild Things Are has been updated. Massively. Lots of people have lots to say about it. There seem to be two, almost evenly divided camps: those who don't wholly dislike the film, but argue that Spike Jonze has missed the mark, and those who believe Jonze has pulled off something rather unique and amazing. Meantime, as Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man opens in more cities, that entry's been updated as well.

"Within the past five years, a boomlet of South American films about domestics has emerged, exploring the fraught push-pull between master and servant," writes Melissa Anderson for Artforum. "Jorge Gaggero's Live-In Maid (2004), in which una señora, reeling from the economic meltdown in Buenos Aires, owes her employee seven months' back pay; Lucía Puenzo's The Fish Child (2009), which, set in the same city, imagines a teenage bourgeoisie and her maid as criminal lovers; and Sebastián Silva's The Maid, an examination less of class clash in its Santiago, Chile, household than of the pathologies of internalized subservience."

"The movie's narrative design is at once simple and complex, and more appealing than its smeary visuals, with their distracting washed-out colors and putty skin tones," writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. "It takes Mr Silva a while to finish his story, but the ending of The Maid is so intelligently handled and so generously and honestly conceived, it proves well worth the wait."

Scott Foundas in the Voice: "In a remarkable performance that won her a special award from the world cinema jury at this year's Sundance Film Festival (which also gave Silva's film its Grand Jury Prize), Chilean television vet [Catalina] Saavedra goes through one of the most uncanny psychophysical transformations I've ever seen in a movie without the benefit of obvious makeup or other prosthetics."

More from Karina Longworth (Time Out New York), Nick McCarthy (L), Noel Murray (AV Club) and Rob Nelson (IFC). Earlier: Reviews from New Directions / New Films. For Filmmaker, Nick Dawson talks with Silva "about his personal experience with live-in maids, shooting the film in his childhood home, and ending up at a self-help meeting in a Santa hat." And Brian Brooks talks with him for indieWIRE; so, too, does James van Maanen. At the Angelika in New York.

"What is right with Black Dynamite also happens to be what is wrong with it," writes Charles Mudede in the Stranger. "Meaning, all you can give this movie is praise - praise for the editing of its action sequences, for its competent acting, for the director's knowledge of the blaxploitation tradition, and for its groovy score. The film begins with a quest for praise and ends by finding lots of it. But what one wants from a movie of this kind, a movie about a type or period of cinema, is for it to cross the border of being merely entertaining (order) to being a work of genius (disorder). This I think is the hidden or even silent failure of Black Dynamite - it is a comedy that never reaches the strange regions of the cosmic."

More from Melissa Anderson (Voice), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Nathan Rabin (AV Club), Nick Schager (Slant), AO Scott (NYT), Keith Uhlich (TONY), James van Maanen and Armond White (New York Press). Earlier: Reviews from Sundance. Interviews with the players: Lewis Beale (Los Angeles Times) and Jonah Weiner (NYT).

"New York ought to appear in quotes in the title of New York, I Love You, an omnibus film about the Big Apple from the producers of Paris, Je T'Aime, because so few of the interwoven segments that make up the film have a genuine New York sensibility." Henry Stewart in the L: "This isn't a film by and for New Yorkers, a series of love letters from hometowners and transplants; it's a shallow portrait sketched by casual admirers, outsiders looking in through cliché-tinted lenses."

More from Sam Adams (AV Club), Chris Barsanti (Filmcritic.com), Paul Constant (Stranger), Roger Ebert (Sun-Times), Michael Koresky (indieWIRE), Michelle Orange (Voice), Joshua Rothkopf (TONY), Andrew Schenker (Slant), AO Scott (NYT) and Armond White (NYP). Meanwhile, for Interview, Durga Chew-Bose looks back to three earlier love letters to the city.

"Law Abiding Citizen, a blunt and sadistic revenge thriller starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler, occasionally pauses from the mayhem to stage a solemn debate about law, justice and morality," writes AO Scott in the NYT. "But really, Law Abiding Citizen has about as much to say about real-life legal issues as Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen had to say about defense policy. And it has less ethical gravity than any three of the Saw movies. Though it sometimes puts on a serious face, this movie, directed with snarling, snappish style by F Gary Gray (The Italian Job), wears its preposterousness with a certain pride. It's about the cat-and-mouse game between two very smart guys, and it's perfectly happy to be as dumb as it wants."

More from Simon Abrams (L), Jeffrey M Anderson (Cinematical), Josef Braun, Alonso Duralde (MSNBC), Roger Ebert (Sun-Times), James Rocchi (Redblog), Scott Tobias (AV Club) and Robert Wilonsky (Voice).

"Forty years on from [Jack Kerouac's] premature death, eyebrow-raising equivocations continue to haunt his image," notes Joseph Jon Lanthier in Slant: "His simultaneous embrace of Catholic liturgy and all-American decadence, his widespread denial of having homosexual partners even as his work openly espoused epicene physical love, and his apostasizing of the entire Beat movement after he had not only epitomized the jargon and mannerisms but helped coin the nomenclature. The documentary One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur works best when it attempts to unpack these paradoxes directly through the author's slickly vibrant language, even as it fails to effectively consolidate any of them. Taking Kerouac's seediest and most lugubrious novel, Big Sur, at autobiographical face value, a collection of friends, cohorts, and younger fanatics narrate the days of alcohol and bitterness that followed the writer's ascendency to pop stardom in the late 50s, and his mostly unsuccessful search for contentedness on the West Coast."

"For those who haven't yet had their fill of documentaries about how we all need to stop eating garbage, here's Jean-Paul Jaud's Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution, a film about how chemicals are seeping into our diets and giving us cancer," sighs Noel Murray at the AV Club. More from Mike Hale (NYT), Aaron Hillis (Voice), Andrew Schenker (Slant) and James van Maanen.

"The widely acclaimed Filipino actress Anita Linda, who has made more than 100 movies since the early 1940s, gives a quietly transfixing performance as the title character of Adela," writes Stephen Holden in the NYT. More from Andrew Schenker (Voice) and Keith Uhlich (TONY). Screening at MoMA as part of its ContemporAsian series.

Nicolas Rapold in the Voice on The Little Traitor: "In 1947 British-occupied Jerusalem, a precocious patriot faces conflicting expectations of loyalty in this terminally mild, ill-structured adaptation of Amos Oz's novel Panther in the Basement." More from Jeannette Catsoulis (NYT), Stephen Garrett (TONY) and Joseph Jon Lanthier (Slant).

"Opa!, a sweet, nontaxing movie set in the gorgeous Greek Isles, has a bit of a black hole at its center named Matthew Modine," writes Neil Genzlinger in the NYT. "But the film's female lead, Agni Scott, and some fine supporting players make this small film a pleasant if predictable diversion." Also: Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story.

Meantime, Film Forum's Elia Kazan retrospective runs on through October 29. Recent reviews: the Voice's J Hoberman on Wild River and, in the L, Miriam Bale on Pinky and Henry Stewart on Baby Doll.

Image: The Maid.

 

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