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Kauffmann: Films Worth Seeing

Films Worth Seeing

Before Tomorrow. Life among the Inuits in arctic Canada . Not a documentary, a fascinating film that recreates life among these people around 1840, before the white man came. The story is so simple -- about an elderly woman and her young grandson -- that it is especially pleasant to be gripped by it.

Disgrace. Not often is a first-class novel made into an equivalent film. This is an exception. In this version of J. M. Coetzee’s well-known book, John Malkovich, as a South African professor who gets in trouble with a female student, is superb. As is everyone else. (10/24/09)

The Messenger. A splendid work about a pair of Iraq veterans who are assigned to bereavement notification service. They visit the families of fallen men, and the effect is just what we would expect. But the film’s depth is in what happens to the pair who do the informing. Sharply written, powerfully acted, imaginatively directed.

Rembrandt’s J’Accuse. An odd gem. The British director Peter Greenaway examines Rembrandt’s Night Watch in order to decipher a crime message he thinks is encoded in it. True or not, his film is absorbing and his cinematic skill impressive. (11/18/2009)

Stanley Kauffmann is The New Republic's film critic.