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The American

I’m not good with machines,” Jack says. He’s the title character in Anton Corbijn’s The American. Later, he repeats it. To a different person. It’s sort of a joke.

Going The Distance

It’s hard to go truly wrong with the romantic comedy genre—they’re simple and inexpensive films to make, and the audience for them is not too hard to please. Yet somehow Going the Distance manages to come up short.

The Extra Man

Kevin Kline may have received his Oscar for one of the great comic performances of recent years, as the aggressively stupid Otto in A Fish Called Wanda, but he doesn’t venture into comedy very often. So the fact that he’s going for laughs is reason enough to see The Extra Man. He plays Henry Harrison, resident of one of the least desirable apartments on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He calls himself a playwright, but makes a living (such as it is) by escorting rich old women to public functions. Not dazzling, regal celebrities, mind you. No, Henry is the one you turn to when all the well-groomed fellows who do this kind of thing—the ones whose socks are not so frayed that they simply color their ankles with black shoe polish—are otherwise occupied or simply not answering your calls.

Cairo Time

In one early scene in Ruba Nadda’s Cairo Time, Juliette (Patricia Clarkson), the American wife of a UN official, pulls a chair onto her hotel room balcony in order to sit and try to take in the vast, intricate social and human panoply of Cairo before her: the Nile’s traffic, the busy streets, a man on a prayer rug, another sewing a red sail by the river. We can imagine that for her, the air in this very complex scene is charged with something strangely new, alluring but a little disorienting. Like her experience in the streets as Egyptian men stare and smile at her, follow and even brush against her, forcing her to take refuge in a shop. “It’s been a long time” since that’s happened, the middle-aged Juliette tells someone later.

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