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Dark City (15). In Alex Proyas's stylish time-warp thriller, the nights never end and the population lives in a state of perpetual disorientation. This is apparently because shape-shifting aliens rise periodically from the netherworld to mess with the architecture and carry out memory transplants; the only one who can stop them is Rufus Sewell, the movie's amnesiac hero. An eye-popping convolution of neo-Gothic fantasy and old-school sci-fi paranoia, Dark City whizzes by so quickly and so eventfully that you don't stop to consider its extreme silliness until it's over. The premise is a crackpot pastiche of Blade Runner, Twelve Monkeys and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the look of the film is no less boldly referential, suggesting as it does Tim Burton in Fritz Lang mode, with a soupcon of Jeunet and Caro, and a dash of the Coens.

Red Corner (15). Like its less enlightened predecessor Midnight Express, Jon Avnet's film crudely exploits the primal Western fear of alien judicial systems. In Beijing on business, hotshot lawyer Jack Moore (Richard Gere) wakes from a one-night stand to find himself accused of murder. Though masquerading as controversial political critique, the film doesn't deliver on the hints of sinister government conspiracies; it's too busy ogling its protagonist's towering nobility. In Robert King's screenplay, the Chinese courts are cartoon Kafka and yet curiously tolerant of lawyerly histrionics. Red Corner lapses often into risible legal-thriller drivel, complete with heckled objections, and free-form grandstanding. In the end, Jack's court-appointed lawyer (Bai Ling), a child of the Cultural Revolution, thanks him for liberating her. Truly, you have to admire the nerve of a movie that presents Richard Gere as a counter-revolutionary force.

Taste of Cherry (12). This 1997 Palme d'Or winner is even more rigorous and wilfully ambiguous than Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's previous films. A middle-aged man (Homayoun Ershadi) drives through the dusty, hilly outskirts of Teheran, looking for someone to help him commit suicide. Consisting mainly of a series of conversations between the suicidal man and the unsuspecting strangers he approaches, Taste of Cherry is an elegant neo-realist parable. Its narrative is relatively spare, but the film's richness has less to do with what it includes than with what it omits.

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