Chop Shop. Willet’s Point in Queens, New York, is a district of auto repair shops, some of which disassemble stolen cars and sell the parts. (Chop shops.) Ramin Bahrani has made a fiction film about the area with all the guts of a good documentary and all the distillation of a poem. Exceptional. (From the upcoming 3/12/08 issue.)

The Duchess of Langeais. A Balzac story rendered in the style of the old New Wave by an old New Waver, Jacques Rivette, whose passion for film lifts his picture over its languors. The subject is the aftereffects of a heavy flirtation. (2/27/08)

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Romania under its dictator in 1987. Abortion was illegal, yet one young woman helps her pregnant friend to handle her difficulty. Well acted, uniquely paced, it transforms a gritty story into a film that engrosses with empathy and insight. (1/30/08)

Summer Palace. The Chinese generation of the late 1980s as represented by a group of college students who move out into new worlds at home and abroad. Sex and shock and rue all play large roles in this vivid and highly mobile picture. (2/27/08)

Stanley Kauffmann iss film critic.

By Stanley Kauffmann