NOW IN THEATERS
The pleasure in this quiet epic seems almost hidden at first, and its unfolding fills the viewer with awe at director Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s subtlety and daring. The experience is like walking down a gallery of magnificent paintings and suddenly becoming aware that something is moving in each of them. The pace can appear glacially slow, but things are constantly happening. Hou wraps action in stillness and infuses stillness with movement. Candles flicker in a still room. Steam drifts off a cup of tea. As for the story, set in the ninth-century Tang Dynasty, it borders on the undecipherable. A young woman named Nie Yinniang (Qi Shu) has been groomed by a mysterious nun since childhood to be an assassin. She is sent to her home province of Weibo to kill the governor, to whom she was betrothed as a child. There are isolated bursts of action, but the drama is in the morality and aesthetics of the moment, not the hiss of the blade. Not rated. 107 minutes. In Mandarin with subtitles. The Screen. (Jonathan Richards)
BRIDGE OF SPIES
Steven Spielberg resurrects the fascinating tale of the Cold War prisoner exchange of Soviet spy Rudolf Abel and Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 pilot shot down over the Soviet Union. The story centers on James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks), a Brooklyn insurance lawyer and former Nuremberg prosecutor who is drafted to represent Abel and uphold the image of the American justice system. As he works with Abel (Mark Rylance), a bond of admiration forms between the two. The first half of the movie hums along nicely, despite an occasional Spielbergian weakness for movie cliché. The second half, which sets Donovan to work arranging the swap, has too many threads to follow and loses focus. Both Hanks and Rylance are terrific. The movie reaches a powerful dramatic climax with the exchange on a West Berlin bridge and then sputters on a little further, reaching for a feel-good ending. Rated PG-13.
141 minutes. Violet Crown. (Jonathan Richards)
In 1950s County Wexford, Ireland, the forwardthinking Rose (Fiona Glascott) has arranged for her younger sister Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) to go to Brooklyn out of clear-eyed necessity — Eilis can’t find a decent job, and there are few other prospects for her in Ireland. In New York, Eilis settles into a cloistered new life, living in a boardinghouse teeming with other, brasher young Irish women. She’s introverted and