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Short Takes
B O O K S
TROUBLEMAKER AND OTHER SAINTS By Christina Chiu The hand-over of Hong Kong to mainland China is a relatively minor event among the emotional cataclysms in this short-story debut. Chiu refracts classic old-vs.-new-world tensions through the prism of second-generation Chinese-American Gen-Xers, inspired more by Kurt Cobain than by Buddha. The resulting chasm between the Chinese Americans and their immigrant parents is filled with disappointments, with tales of anorexia and homophobia, and that stubborn reluctance by young and old to see each other as each wishes to be seen.

C I N E M A
ENEMY AT THE GATES Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud In the Battle of Stalingrad a sharpshooting shepherd (Jude Law) picks off dozens of Germans. So the Nazis send their best sniper (Ed Harris) to kill the killer. Not so much a war movie as a western with a shoot-out every 10 minutes, Enemy is the big puffy drama we expect from the director of Quest for Fire and The Lover. There's a stolid, almost Stalinist cast to the compositions and a drably desaturated palette--apparently Russia was so poor in the '40s that it couldn't afford full color. But Law, sexy and crafty as ever, and here with a flinty innocence, proves again he has the star-quality goods.

MEMENTO Directed by Christopher Nolan Traumatized by his wife's rape-murder, Leonard (Guy Pearce) loses all short-term memory. Investigating her death, he takes Polaroids of everyone he meets. But his condition prevents him from constructing a coherent account of a day in his life, let alone the crime in question. The film takes this attempt to shatter narrative into little pieces about as far into incoherence as it can go; yet it is also full of odd, hypnotic menace.

E X H I B I T I O N
EUPHOR!UM Mixing a maze with modern technology, this San Francisco installation sensation simulates Samuel Taylor Coleridge's famous hallucinatory dream, the one that brought the world Kubla Khan. Donning a Plexiglas helmet and carrying an MP3 digital music player, visitors stumble along in deliberate disorientation beside Alph, the sacred river that leads to a stately pleasure dome. Creator Chris Hardman's sellout show is the hippest legal high on the West Coast.

M U S I C
MUSIC TYPEWRITER Moreno + 2 The children of Brazil's greatest musicians are taking to the world stage. Last year saw the release of Tanto Tempo by Bebel Gilberto, daughter of bossa nova great Joao Gilberto; Max de Castro, son of bossa nova singer Wilson Simonal, also made a splash with his album Samba Raro. Now Moreno Veloso, son of Tropicalia genius Caetano Veloso, is raising his voice. Veloso's CD (made with bandmates Domenico and Kassin) is no mere echo of his father; his inventive songs have a quiet, vernal charm all their own.

T E L E V I S I O N
WIT HBO, Saturday, March 24, 9 p.m E.T. Margaret Edson's affecting, Pulitzer prize-winning play about an English professor dying of cancer has been adapted for TV with taste and resourcefulness by director Mike Nichols. The subject is so strong, and Emma Thompson's performance so moving, that it seems a shame to carp. But the TV movie, like the play, treads a predictable path, especially in its portrayal of the insensitive doctors. And the most courageous and startling moment in the stage version--the middle-aged protagonist disrobes in a burst of light at the very end--is inexplicably gone.

T H E A T E R
LOBBY HERO By Kenneth Lonergan In the lobby of a New York City apartment building, four people--a flaky overnight security guard, his boss, a rookie female cop and her veteran partner--grapple with a murder investigation and issues of loyalty and betrayal. Lonergan, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter (You Can Count on Me) and playwright (This Is Our Youth, The Waverly Gallery) weaves an intriguing tale that keeps one glued to the stage for two hours. But too many sitcom-style laughs and contrived character twists betray this off-Broadway comedy-drama as a slick but disposable confection.




March 26, 2001 Vol. 157 No. 12




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