Plus: "2016: Obama's America" and "Kuamre"
This French oddity swirls the levity, intrigue and menace of "Twin Peaks" and the mythology of Marilyn Monroe's mysterious death into a twisted but effective mystery-comedy. A blocked detective novelist (Jean-Paul Rouve) feels inspiration begin to flow when he stops in a snowbound town with dark secrets. The TV weathergirl/local beauty (Sophie Quinton, left) has turned up ice cold in a remote field. The police commandant is threatening and obstructive; it seems she was involved with a political leader and his brother, who teasingly resemble John and Robert Kennedy.
Writer/director Gérald Hustache-Mathieu photographs Quinton in poses resembling iconic portraits of Monroe, and she captures the essence of the star's bruised innocence.
Clare Ponsot is a comic treasure as the hotel receptionist whose motor revs for the visiting writer, and Guillaume Gouix is fine as a helpful young police brigadier who joined the force because "the majorettes' uniforms were too small." Like the David Lynch TV series that inspired it, this film is sometimes brilliant, sometimes forced, but at its best it's intoxicatingly strange.
Rating: PG, for strong language and smoking.
Dinesh D'Souza -- the author of the bestseller "The Roots of Obama's Rage" and a former American Enterprise Institute fellow -- is not a fan of President Obama. This strident documentary, co-directed with John Sullivan, asserts that Obama pursues his father's left-leaning, "anticolonial" ideals.
D'Souza argues that the president has emasculated NASA and has refused to take a "meaningful step" against Iran's nuclear ambitions. He envisions a foreboding future in which the Middle East becomes a "United States of Islam."
Echoing his views are Paul Vitz, a New York University psychology professor; Daniel Pipes, a founder of the Middle East Forum, who says that "the state of Israel is seen as a horrible entity" by the administration; writer and academic Paul Kengor; and former Comptroller General David Walker, who warns about the national debt.
D'Souza revives figures tied to Obama by conservative critics in the last election, including the Rev. Jeremiah Wright; Chicago educator, activist and former radical Bill Ayers; and Edward Said, a Palestinian scholar and a professor of Obama's at Columbia, who died in 2003.
Eventually, we see blunt imagery like Benjamin Franklin's face on a burning $100 bill and a shot of the Statue of Liberty. Not interviewed by the filmmakers are Obama's political supporters, but this isn't that kind of documentary.
ANDY WEBSTER, NEW YORK TIMES
Unrated mature themes.
Where: St. Anthony Main.
After confusion about his religious identity inspired a quest that brought him into contact with many false gurus, Vikram Gandhi decided to step into their sandals. The nonbelieving New Jersey-born filmmaker moved to Phoenix in the guise of a red-robed holy man to see if he, too, could gain a following.
His documentary contains unscripted New Age absurdities worthy of Sacha Baron Cohen. As Kumaré, he leads yoga students in exercises that look suspiciously like air guitar. His encounter with "Law of Attraction" positive thinkers and his visit to an "acoustic theologian" who massages him with a motorized car buffer are beyond parody.
Satire is only part of the film's scope, however. There are episodes of touching sincerity as "socially disappointed" people seeking guidance confide in Kumaré and receive his gentle encouragement as esoteric spiritual wisdom. As Gandhi's ruse stretches on for months, he begins to question the consequences of revealing his identity. The experiment begins to affect his flock in undeniably positive ways, and he begins to feel changed himself. But how can he justify perpetuating a lie? The moral appears to be that what you believe matters less than that you believe in something.