Le Mepris (15). Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 feature, perhaps the one Godard film that inspires passion even among non-Godard fans, deserves all the praise that's been heaped on it. Adapted from Alberto Moravia's novel Il Disprezzo, Le Mepris (Contempt) is an elegantly mournful meditation on the death of love and, less directly, on the imminent demise of the movies. Conventionally structured by Godard standards, the story is a classical tragedy that unfolds in three acts. Paul (Michel Piccoli), a French playwright working in Italy, accepts an assignment from a vulgarian Hollywood mogul (Jack Palance) to rewrite a script for a movie version of The Odyssey directed by Fritz Lang (playing himself). In one fleeting moment, Paul loses the love of his wife Camille (Brigitte Bardot) and sets the inexorable tragedy in motion. Le Mepris offers plenty of immediate sensual pleasures - Raoul Coutard's ravishing Technicolor photography, Georges Delerue's glorious score - but it's also a cerebral and psychologically astute work. In the middle segment, Paul and Camille pace around their apartment - quarrelling, confessing, concealing, falling ever further apart. Godard records the disintegration of their relationship, laying bare the subtle yet irreversible emotional damage - one of the most remarkable half-hours in modern cinema.
Liar Liar (12). In which Jim Carrey appeases the many fans he alienated with Cable Guy. The comedy here is of the broad, face-pulling variety, and the film positively reeks of family-values righteousness. Liar Liar takes aim at Hollywood's favourite easy target - the legal profession. Its premise: what if a lawyer was unable to lie for a day? Carrey plays a busy, divorced, and generally conscience-free attorney who's made a habit of disappointing his five-year-old son. The little boy makes a birthday wish that his father be forced to speak the truth for a full 24 hours; cue social mishaps, courtroom disasters, and, of course, valuable life lessons. Unlikely as it may seem, Shadyac's film actually has its entertaining patches; plus, when Carrey gets all mushy, it's downright sinister - and perversely fascinating.
Private Parts (18). All shock-jock Howard Stern wants is for you to love him, hence this flagrantly self-serving pseudo-biopic in which the self-proclaimed King of All Media shows us his oft-concealed cuddly side. Stern plays himself - which, must have been the only viable option. Stern- haters will find the prevailing sentiment - "Being misunderstood is the fate of all true geniuses" - more than a little difficult to stomach.