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We recommend: After the Wedding, Away From Her, The Ex, The Hi

British director Ken Loach's masterful tale of the early days of the Irish Republican Army supplies the second end of a conversation started by Loach's excellent 1995 Spanish Civil War drama Land and Freedom. Both represent profound considerations of the fog of wars, those that rage between nations and, all too often, within. But The Wind That Shakes the Barley also takes the form of a thriller, as an idealistic Cork medical student (Cillian Murphy) finds himself forgoing a London internship to become a freedom fighter (though some would say terrorist) on the home front. Though it spans just over a year (1920-21) of actual history, the film implicitly casts one weary eye back to the failed Irish Republican Brotherhood uprising of 1916 and the other forward to the seven decades of bloodshed that would yet fall upon Irish soil before the arrival of something approximating peace. Finally, it weeps for the way in which friends—and even brothers—who once fought side by side against a collective oppressor can, in a moment, find themselves stationed on opposite sides of an ideological divide. (Scott Foundas) (Art Theatre, Long Beach)


This film was not screened in time for our critics, but a review will appear here next week. (Countywide)

Based on the true story of an Indian woman who set fire to her abusive husband, Provoked is a feminist homily of the shrillest order. As Kiranjit Ahluwalia, Aishwarya Rai accumulates battered-woman clichťs, venerating the legacy of Judith Light by jolting every time a door slams and staring at the fourth wall in traumatized stone-face. In a London prison, she finds a semblance of freedom and solace, even though the guards riotously mispronounce her name and a big, fat lesbian with bad teeth tries to take her non-vegetarian gruel. Outside, a group of women's rights activists that could pass for the stock cast of 3-2-1 Contact rally for her appeal, trying to justify why Kiranjit—Karen to her lazy prison gal pals—would have wanted to burn a well-oiled Deepak (Naveen Andrews) to a bacon-crisp. Most unintentionally hilarious bad scene: an absurdly preachy game of Scrabble during which Karen leaves the "u" out of the word shoulder. Lean on this: Short-changing issues of race and wearing its heart way out on its sleeve, it's the film's amateur exposition that's most dumbfounding—poised to provoke more sarcasm than righteous indignation. (Ed Gonzalez) (Edwards Westpark, Irvine)

This film was not screened in time for our critics, but a review will appear here next week. (Countywide)

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