Birth Directed by Jonathan Glazer
A wealthy Manhattan widow (Nicole Kidman) is about to remarry, a decade after her husband's death, when an intense 10-year-old (Cameron Bright) appears, insisting he's the reincarnation of her late husband. The setup of Glazer's ("Sexy Beast") often hypnotic movie suggests a supernatural thriller, but the execution is pure European art film. While Kidman gives a bold performance as a woman in extreme distress, the script is hooey. "Birth" is ridiculous, and oddly unforgettable.
Being Julia Directed by Istvan Szabo
Films about great theatrical divas (so temperamental! So divine!) all strike familiar notes. This Somerset Maugham adaptation is no exception. But Annette Bening, playing the queen of the '30s London stage, makes it worth another go-round. As Julia Lambert, a married star whose midlife crisis hurls her into the arms of a callow young American (unsexy, miscast Shaun Evans), she delivers a cunning, beautifully modulated, seriocomic portrait of a woman who can't not act. Familiar, but like a good English tea service, satisfying.
The Big Red OneDirected by Samuel Fuller
The complete version of Fuller's semiautobiographical World War II epic--released in 1980 in a mutilated cut almost 50 minutes shorter--is a must-see event. An indelible account of the insanity of war and the sheer dumb luck of survival, it follows an infantry squad led by hard-bitten Lee Marvin. Marvin's taciturn performance--a moving demonstration of masculine grace under pressure--may be his finest.