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Film Picks by Michelle Goldberg and Edward Crouse

The Flame and City That Never Sleeps
Plays Sept. 16 at the Roxie

Two rare film noirs by director John H. Auer--The Flame (1947) and City That Never Sleeps (1953). City That Never Sleeps follows unhappy Chicago cop Johnny Kelly, who wants to give up his job and his marriage to run away with stripper Angel Face. Chicago itself appears as an anthropomorphized character played by Chill Wills. The Flame is the story of a blackmail scheme gone awry. (MG)

The Adventures of Sebastian Cole
Opens Aug. 20 at the Lumiere

The Adventures of Sebastian Cole is yet another bittersweet, cheeky coming-of-age high-school movie, but it's better than most. Its success is largely due to the smoldering, heartthrobby Adrian Grenier as Sebastian, a rebellious would-be '80s beatnik. Sebastian is the kind of kid who gets terrible grades but scores 1520 on his SATs. In a twist that is meant to set the film apart from its ilk, Sebastian lives with his stepfather, who devastated Sebastian's mother when he announced his plans for a sex change. Hank/Henrietta turns out to be the only empathetic adult in Sebastian's life. While their relationship is touching, Hank's gender dysphoria is underdeveloped. One never gets a sense of why he wants to be female. Still, the film vividly evokes restless smart-ass suburban adolescence and the wild longing for experience and adventure. (MG)

Plays at the Castro through Sept. 2

Plain and barren, Edoardo Winspeare's first feature is a welter of dust, rocky soil, poor-folk farmers and low-flying lust. Set in 1943, the film follows a downed American pilot who luckily speaks the Italian Salentino dialect and is sheltered from the fascist town authorities by a gruff olive peasant and his three daughters. The middle daughter falls for him, rebels against an arranged marriage with the village rich kid and then becomes a tarantata, or psychotic dancer. Minimally inflected through nonprofessional leads--the oak-skinned Fabio Frascero and Chiara Torelli--Pizzicata is closer to Latcho Drom than a conventional Italian melodrama. The volcanic feelings are siphoned through a gorgeously specific profile of Salentian folk music and dance. (EC)

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From the August 30, 1999, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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