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The Officer's Wife

History is a tale written by the victors, and not always with objectivity. Ask any Pole with a relative buried in the forest at Katyn, where in 1940 the Soviet army slaughtered as many as 27,000 captured Polish soldiers and buried them in mass graves. The site was discovered by the Nazis in 1943 and filmed as a record of Stalin’s atrocities. But because the war ended with the Russians as American allies, it was never investigated aside from a feeble attempt by Stalin to blame it on the Nazis.

Chico and Rita

It’s obvious a lot of technical work and expense have been expended on Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal’s animated feature, Chico and Rita. They’ve set their Academy Award-nominated film (for animated feature) in the post-war period when Latin American musicians began to be very influential in North American and European jazz circles, and artistic cross-enrichment between the northern and southern hemispheres was exciting many performers. The movie’s score is the work of the Cuban pianist and composer Bebo Valdes, one of the musicians who figured prominently in that era. (Valdes was the subject of Trueba’s 2000 documentary, Calle 54.) Valdes also provided the piano playing for Chico, the movie’s hero, and a creation whose international adventures are the narrative core of Chico and Rita.

The Five-Year Engagement

Intermittently through its first third or so, Nicholas Stoller’s The Five-Year Engagement threatens to become a guilty pleasure. Another offshoot of the Judd Apatow industrial comedy mill, it now and then achieves a kind of crudely—and I do mean crudely—funny and goofy wit. Indeed, here and there it seems to humorously radiate an evocation of Mike Nichol’s 1960s comic-sketch partner Elaine May, in her later screenwriter incarnation. It may sometimes remind some of her goofy, weirdly, embarrassingly funny and very inconsistent writing. But it doesn’t sustain this hopeful impression. It falls back on its own limited and vulgar devices.

The Raven

Where is Roger Corman when you need him? His 1960s string of horror films bearing the name of Edgar Allen Poe may have had little to do with the stories whose titles they bore, but at least they were lurid fun. The Raven attempts to interject the real writer into a horror story based on his own fictions, but it’s unlikely to satisfy either Poe aficionados or fans who just want a few hours of cheap thrills.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Watching a person who does something very well doing that thing is, I’ve always thought, a splendid subject for a documentary, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi is that kind of film. Its subject is Jiro Ono, probably the world’s most renowned sushi chef. He is also, at 85, the oldest chef whose restaurant has received a coveted three star rating from Michelin. (Fewer than 100 restaurants around the world have that rating, which essentially means “It’s worth taking a trip to this country just to eat here.”)

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