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By Richard von Busack

American Psycho
Opens April 14

The long-dreaded film adaptation of arch-twerp Bret Easton Ellis' would-be satirical novel. It's about an '80s-era yuppie (Christian Bale) who is also a compulsive killer. Don't let anyone tell you the book is neglected, that its shock value hides an important social message. I had a recent bout with the book until it became mysteriously thrown against a wall. To paraphrase Bette Davis, on the subject of a script she hated: Ellis' writing has a pretense to quality, which in books, as in home furnishing, is worse than junk. The adaptation is by Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol) and Gwen Turner (Go Fish), so the film may be misogyny-proofed, but can anyone take the obviousness out of this material? (For comparison, check out Nicolas Cage in Vampire's Kiss as the most winning parody of y-person malice and self-satisfaction.)


Megacities
Plays April 7-13 at the Roxie Theater

Mexico City, Bombay, New York and Moscow are observed from the heights to the lower depths. German director Michael Glowogger finds a terrifying harmony in life at the bottom on the different continents. Megacities is recommended for fans of Godfrey Reggio's hair-raising Koyaanisqatsi, and probably the most futuristic film you'll see all year.


Rules of Engagement
Opens April 7

William Friedkin's comeback film is a well-cast yet excruciatingly slow courtroom drama. Two old soldiering buddies from Vietnam (Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson) are reunited when Jackson goes in front of a military trial for murder. Jackson's offense: firing into a crowd of civilians in Yemen, while trying to rescue the U.S. ambassador from a violent demonstration. At first, Rules of Engagement looks as if it's going to delve into fresh material about the difficult role of the U.S. military at the turn of the new century. All too soon, Friedkin turns the drama into a good vs. evil tale about smirkingly evil government men. Jackson is framed the cowardly ambassador (Ben Kingsley) as he fights off the Army's prosecutor (Guy Pearce, of LA Confidential, wearing a scar on his face so we can see how bad he is).


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From the April 3, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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