Reviews of the Cinematheque's weekend films

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The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque is showing several great movies this weekend. Here are reviews of just two of them.

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Amreeka (US, Canada, 2009) Hoping to find a better life in the United States, single mom Muna (Nisreen Faour) flees Palestine with her teenage son Fadi (Melkar Muallem), and moves in with her sister’s family. Things don’t go as planned, however. College-educated and fluent in five different languages, Muna can’t find a job and is forced to work at a fast-food joint, something she hides from her sister. And the kids at school pick on Fadi, who eventually starts to fight back and gets into trouble as a result. Set in post-9/11 America, the movie is a statement of sorts on racial politics. But because it’s so pedantic, it doesn’t entirely work. Faour is the film’s saving grace. As the self-consciously overweight, well-meaning mother of a rebellious son, she makes her character more complex than the others. At 8:40 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7, and 6:45 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10. ** 1/2

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New York, I Love You (France/US, 2009) From the producers behind Paris je t’aime, an art-house hit that featured short films all set in the City of Light, New York, I Love You is a project that involves 11 directors and countless celebrity actors and actresses (Shia LaBeouf, Natalie Portman, Andy Garcia, Orlando Bloom, Chris Cooper, Christina Ricci, Ethan Hawke). The film is wildly uneven. In one segment, a man (Cooper) and a woman (Robin Wright Penn) have a heated, sexually charged exchange while smoking outside a bar. In another stilted moment, a man (Garcia) steals another man’s (Hawke) wallet in a bar while exchanging witty remarks. While the city itself looks great, attempts to have the characters cross paths make the whole thing seem forced. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8, at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, and 8:45 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10. ** 1/2

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