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By Richard von Busack

La Ciudad
Opens Feb. 25 at the Castro Theater.

In four vignettes, filmmaker David Riker tries to bring back the aesthetic of the Italian neo-realists in Rudy Giuliani's Manhattan. The episodes: a homeless puppeteer seeks to get his daughter into an elementary school but can't because he doesn't have proof of residence; a seamstress is anxious because paychecks are late; two teenagers fall in love at a dance; and scavengers in an abandoned building are injured. In Spanish with English subtitles.

The Jaundiced Eye
Opens Feb. 25 at the Roxie Theater.

The story of Stephen and Malevin Matthews, a Michigan father and son falsely accused of child molestation by Stephen's ex-girlfriend. The spectacular accusations--that the pair injured the boy in question with machetes--turned up no evidence, but the two were both sentenced to 35 years in jail. Writer/director Nonny de la Pena suggests that part of the reason why the case got as far as it did is because of Stephen Matthews' gayness. Produced by Amy and Dan Gifford, the producers of Waco: The Rules of Engagement.

Judy Berlin
Opens Feb. 25.

Everything Magnolia should have been. This excellent film avoids the usual suburb-bashing in favor of a look at the mysteries, yearnings and unnoticed charm of Babylon, Long Island. Characters include a young filmmaker (Aaron Harnick) who has moved back into his parents' house after his career was ruined; his lonely mother (the late Madeline Kahn); and a dumb but likable aspiring actress named Judy Berlin (Edie Falco), who is leaving for California. Underneath a layer of black-and-white shadows, director Eric Mendelsohn discovers furtive hopefulness. The film is always hilarious, even though it's always sad.

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From the February 21, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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