Snap Judgment: Movies

Lady in the Water Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

This batty New Age "bedtime story" is all about a "narf" (Bryce Dallas Howard), a mythological water nymph from the Blue World who's discovered in the pool of an apartment complex by its sad-sack super-intendent (Paul Giamatti). Beasts called scrunts are out to kill her, and the super must enlist everyone in the complex--none of whom, oddly, bats an eye--to help her return to her world. Unfortunately, this narf's a drag: she talks like a fortune cookie and doesn't really do anything. Still, the multicultural cast is fun, the images have a painterly beauty and there are some beguiling comic touches before the story sinks into a swamp of solemn metaphysical glop.

Brothers of the Head Directed by Louis Pepe and Keith Fulton

A pair of conjoined twins are turned into '70s punk-rock stars in this bizarre, edgy and haunting tale of anguished identities and music-world exploitation. The twins are played by 19-year-old real-life brothers Luke and Harry Treadaway. They're sexy, touching and macabre, and you can't keep your eyes off them. Pepe and Fulton employ a faux documentary style (but not played for laughs), which gives the film its uncanny sense of verisimilitude but also limits its emotional range--one wishes it would plunge deeper into the boys' psyches.

Time to Leave Directed by François Ozon

Romain (Melvil Poupaud), a chic Parisian fashion photographer, learns he has terminal cancer, and only a short time to live. He doesn't go gently or with stiff-upper-lip heroism, but raging at his sister, breaking up cruelly with his younger boyfriend and sharing his secret only with his beloved, equally solipsistic, bohemian grandmother (Jeanne Moreau). This is the most personal, deeply felt film from the gifted director of "Under the Sand" and "Swimming Pool." Ozon leaches his melodrama of all sentimentality, and moves us all the more. -David Ansen