Pic opens in a village in Burkina Faso. Eugene (Ismael Lo), an easy-going, cheerful peddler of cigarettes, candy and chewing gum, decides to leave his wife and children and head for the city of Abidjan, in the Ivory Coast, where he hopes to find fame and fortune as a musician. There he meets Kassi (Georgette Pare), a prostitute who offers him accommodation on a platonic basis, though he finds himself attracted to her. But Kassi is talked into having sex with clients sans a condom for three times her usual payment, and eventually succumbs to AIDS. Eugene, who has just started to have some success as a singer, is also devastated to learn that a man he knew in his village has died of the virus.
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“A Dedicated Life” is both a tribute to the work of the controversial Japanese writer Mitsuharu Inoue and a study of his death from cancer. Despite its length, Kazuo Hara’s intimate study of a likable and courageous man is riveting viewing, and, in the end, extremely moving. It should have no trouble finding slots at fests and specialized TV nets.
Army Archerd: Just for Variety
An often breathtakingly original meld of road movie, lesbian love story, psychodrama and black comedy, “Butterfly Kiss” wings in as the most original and spirited Brit pic since last year’s “Shallow Grave.” Toplining Amanda Plummer and Saskia Reeves as two Northerners who hook up in a macabre, realist fairy tale of murder and romantic obsession as they travel the U.K.’s highways, the film looks certain to put English director Michael Winterbottom on the international map and spark strong critical response. Cult status seems assured; the challenge for distribs will be to translate the movie’s clear festival and upscale appeal into broader business.
Scripter Cindy Myers seemingly straddles the fence between Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey’s epistolary novel “A Woman of Independent Means” and the glowing stage version adapted by Hailey in which Barbara Rush in a solo perf triumphed as the unsinkable Bess Steed Garner (based on Hailey’s maternal grandmother).
On “Good News From the Next World,” the first new Simple Minds album in three years, the band moves away from the synthesizer-based sounds of its ’80s hits, turning to a more guitar-driven style.
China’s new generation of independent filmmakers has found a richly distinctive voice in He Jianjun. His sophomore feature “Postman” observes an introverted outsider unable to get a grip on his own life who secretly begins intervening in the lives of others. Moving, plaintive and utterly compelling, this finely controlled drama, which won top honors at Rotterdam fest, stands to reap considerable exposure at international arthouse venues.
Notorious B.I.G.’s resume, like that of many hard-core rappers, reads more like a rap sheet than a music bio. But the experiences of Biggie’s years of hustling, dealing and of course, prison time, make “Ready to Die,” his platinum-selling debut for Bad Boy/Arista, an involving record.
Terrence McNally’s play arrives on Broadway with one major cast change but otherwise, “Love! Valour! Compassion!” makes a smooth transition from the Manhattan Theater Club, where it opened mostly to acclaim in November, to Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theater.
While a seemingly familiar tale of urban, ethnic plight, “Soul Survivor” gets added mileage from its unique setting in the Afro-Caribbean sector of Toronto. A relatively straightforward drama, film’s interwoven tales are elevated by assured direction and performances that convey authenticity. A decidedly upscale effort, it should travel well on the arthouse circuit domestically and in foreign climes.
“Anatomy of Love” is no guide to better sex. The steamy and playful sides of love never take center stage. Yet Oprah does it, Geraldo certainly does it, even Ricki Lake does it, so why shouldn’t TBS display the true confessions of real people on the subject of love — especially when they’re backed up by an anthropologist?