A three-paneled look at the worldwide AIDS crisis: in Montreal, a porn actor (Ashmore) schemes to pass his mandatory blood test; a young nun (Sevigny) makes a personal sacrifice for the benefit of a South African village; in rural China, a black market operative (Liu) posing as a goverment-sanctioned blood drawer jeopardizes an entire village's safety.
Cedric the Entertainer plays Jake, a seemingly regular guy who has no idea who he is after being hit over the head by mysterious assailants; when he finds himself entangled in a government ... See full summary »
Cedric the Entertainer,
Living in the rural Texas panhandle is a dysfunctional family: an abusive dad, a Vietnam vet with a war wound that's left him impotent; a compliant wife and a son of about 20, who have an ... See full summary »
Sabina has a regular life. She is satisfied with her job and her love for Franco. Lately nightmares start disturbing her, and almost in the same time she discovers to be pregnant. Step by ... See full summary »
Luigi Lo Cascio,
1968 and 1969 in Paris: during and after the student and trade union revolt. François is 20, a poet, dodging military service. He takes to the barricades, but won't throw a Molotov cocktail... See full summary »
Seemingly disparate portraits of people -- among them a single mother, a high school principal, and an ace student -- Distinctly American -- all affected by the proliferation of guns in American society.
Marcia Gay Harden,
Two men and a woman happen to meet in a bar. We learn from their conversations both the intriguing and banal details of their lives. But is anyone really telling the truth? From the meat ... See full summary »
On the surface Henrik and Nina Christofferson are an ordinary family living happily. But they have a problem. Their daughter, Stine, a difficult 14 year old, has a habit of telling lies in ... See full summary »
Forty-year old Louis is a loud-mouthed repo-man who has nurtured a lifelong dream of becoming a successful actor. Fortunately for Louis his cousin is a casting agent, and he soon learns ... See full summary »
Sister Hilde narrates three separates stories, each directly concerning the AIDS crisis. From a Montréal based order, Sister Hilde, Sister Mary and Clara, a novice, have just arrived in Africa to work as nurses in a plantation's medical center. They learn that legend there has it that having sex with a virgin will transfer infection out from oneself. Because of this legend, an infant girl is raped. Clara, who also learns the main cause of the virus' spread within the plantation, does whatever she can to ensure that Hallyday, the plantation owner, flexes his economic power to right the wrongs on the plantation. Back in Montréal, a porn actor named Denys has been cheating on his mandatory monthly HIV tests, using his father's blood to pass as his own. As he believes he has been exposed to the virus, the negative results will allow him to continue working. When he is caught, his mother, Olive, learns the hard way of her son's true HIV status and his occupation, and devises a strategy for... Written by
There is a lot of sadness in this film artfully rendered, and a measure of grace too, which feels hard-earned. The writer-director Thom Fitzgerald, at the NY screening, said that the reality he encountered while researching it was probably even worse than he could bear to show. (Amazingly, the renowned Dr. David Ho was also present at the screening, which added another hopeful touch: HIV/AIDS progress is being made but, as the film shows, funding and education are still lacking in poor countries, and attitudes are often still messed up in rich ones.) There is a didactic purpose in 3 Needles, but fortunately Fitzgerald has the storytelling skills and the director's talent to bear the load. You may not buy everything in it, and you may be angry at him for some of the tough images and choices, but the human emotion and pain, the weakness and strength are gripping and undeniable. And many of the secondary observations, about characters and place, feel sharp and well-observed.
The prologue is a perfect example of a warm, vibrant image giving way to a shocking one: Teenage boys of an African tribe cover their bodies with a pale paste, un-self-consciously helping each other, though they are naked. It is an ancient ritual and they appear eager, joking around but purposeful. Later they are to be circumcised, the passageway into becoming men. The image of the knife, for reasons which will be instantly clear, is uniquely jolting. Surprisingly the movie manages to sustain the intensity, asking questions while shining a light on different corners of the world.
The acting and cinematography are uniformly good, the latter especially considering the low budget. Most of the South Africans were non-actors, including tribespeople who had never even seen a film. Fitzgerald called this version "the director's cut" since his Canadian distributor previously showed a much different version which cut several scenes, and jumbled the stories together. This might have made sense in another movie, but with the stories on 3 different continents, this version, with each played discretely, seemed much better. Also, Fitzgerald said he shot a 4th scenario which he cut, probably for length. See this on the big screen and it will very likely stay with you.
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