CINEMA: ELEGY FOR DEGENERATION X

THREE NEW FILMS FROM PROMISING YOUNG DIRECTORS CAPTURE THE RAGE, DESPAIR AND WILD WIT OF THE TWENTYSOMETHING CROWD

A YOUNG FILMMAKER WITH A POPUlar first movie is like a singer from nowhere with a surprise hit. The thing is catchy, but it could be a fluke. And the sound: Is it original or just a novelty? Best to wait for the shock of the new to wear off. It's the follow-up that shows if the artist has staying power, if he or she is worth keeping around.

Two years ago, the Hughes brothers, Allen and Albert, made Menace II Society, a violent melodrama whose film-school flash won kudos. Last year's top novice was Kevin Smith, with his clever, scratchy...

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