No, not those shorties. Short capsules of some DVDs from this past weekend.
-Anna & The King (Dir: Andy Tenant, C: Jodie Foster, Chow-Yun Fat, 1999): Beautifully shot (by Caleb Deschanel of The Natural fame) based-on-true-events-story of an intellectual English teacher (Foster) brought to 19th century Siam to teach the 58(!) kids of the King (Fat, huh-huh) based on the same diaries that famed Broadway play The King and I (and a previous filmed incarnation) is based. At 147 minutes, the film is about a half an hour too long, bloated by too many expanded subplots and a somewhat hackneyed ending. If you loved The Last Emperor, then check out this decent knock-off.
-Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring Again (From South Korea; Dir. Kim-duk Kim, 2003): Aaaaaaah. A quiet, peaceful, poetic film which, on the surface, centers around a floating Buddhist monastary and the relationship of the master and his young protege who live on it. Heavily influenced by Eastern and Buddhist thought and meditation, the film filters through the cycle of life, karma and redemption. Few words are spoken, but if you are in for an insightful moving experience far from our own normal Western existences and, thus, films, check this out.
-Pieces Of April (Dir: Peter Hedges, C: Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, 2003): A short (eighty minute) flick about a 21 year-old rebellious black sheep (Holmes) who cooks a Thanksgiving dinner for her unforgiving, disfunctional family with whom she has a highly contentious relationship with. Even more strained is her relationship with her terminally-ill mother (Clarkson). Luckily, the film does not take pity upon Clarkson's character, nor sink into melodrama. Instead, we are left with a funny, real portrayal of a two familial ships trying to establish a new bridge over a cavernous sea of the past. God that sounded terrible...but it is worth a look around Turkey time or whenever your folks drive you to hang dead chickens upside-down out your window.