Armchair Cinephile

PICK OF THE WEEK:One of the very best films of 2006, now out on standard and high-def disc, is a thriller for the soul, pitting a German spy against his conscience and the power of love and art. Sadly, the film’s brilliant star Ulrich Mühe died last month, just as many filmgoers became aware of him. Those of us playing catch-up can see a few more of his performances in Kino’s Michael Haneke Collection, coming next Tuesday.

David Mamet’s debut as a director has rough edges — his distinctive dialogue doesn’t flow as perfectly as it later will, and star Lindsay Crouse (Mamet’s wife at the time) is excruciatingly awkward. But it’s still a must-see of mood and ‘tude, displaying a love of deception that served Mamet well in years to come.

It’s about hookers, yes, but don’t get excited: Lizzie Borden’s 1986 film, made after much consultation with real prostitutes, is much more interested in the politics of capitalism and sexual equality than in making viewers horny.

Japanese auteur Seijun Suzuki, famous for pop-art Yakuza films and his influence on Kill Bill, tells one of his strangest stories yet in this everything-goes free-associative musical starring House of Flying Daggers stunner Zhang Ziyi.

YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF OUTRAGE AND HOPE: Please watch the self-explanatory, misery-inducing Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (HBO) before dipping into the prickly but inspirational life of Ralph Nader in An Unreasonable Man (IFC).


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