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  'Charm'
Fri/26-Sat/27, Werepad

SADIE SHAW AND Sarah Reed's debut feature, Charm, sets Polanski's Repulsion partly within the S.F. indie rock scene, a terrain that certainly can be alienating. We first meet near-mute, Anna Karina-like Rosie (Katherine Fuqua) at a darkened, empty movie theater, in a scene that pays homage to a scene in Godard's Vivre sa vie, which itself pays homage to Dreyer's Passion of Joan of Arc. You might think that Shaw and Reed are shooting pretentiously high in the referentiality department, but Charm's approach – shot on Super 8 film, with disjunctive dubbed dialogue and a persistent rock score – and environs (dance clubs, apartment parties) are closer to low-budget and genre terrain: Liquid Sky, G.B. Jones, Richard Kern, a touch of Argento. Rosie's attacks on hostile or careless friends and strangers are the movie's strongest point. Real or imagined, the gory violence – a Shaw specialty, dating back to her days shooting music vids for Emily's Sassy Lime – is convulsive. There's also an interesting stylistic dissonance between the crudity of the dubbing and the painstakingly layered quality of Charm's music, which includes unreleased tracks by the Aislers Set, Tim Green, and other locals. See Rep Clock for show times. (Johnny Ray Huston)

'The Count of Monte Cristo'
Payback time

There seems to have been some sort of mandate issued that all of Alexandre Dumas père's classic novels need to be remade into films at least once per moviegoing generation. And you couldn't find a better source to continually ransack and pillage: Dumas tended to write novels overflowing with the type of adventure, romance, and heroic derring-do for which the cinema seems custom-built. The Count of Monte Cristo, his torrid tale of class warfare, innocents imprisoned, and vengeance wreaked, has been a particular favorite, racking up a whopping 16 adaptations in one form or another since its first screen outing in 1908. This era's popcorn munchers get number 17, as a strapping and illiterate naïf (Jim Caviezel) is set up for charges of treason by his aristocratic "friend" Fernand (Guy Pearce) and sent to a prison where time is signified by the warden's anniversary beatings. A fellow inmate (Richard Harris) teaches him reading and swordplay, and the young man escapes, takes up with Italian pirates, returns to France, and starts issuing some serious payback. This latest take on the old warhorse certainly boasts the best hyperbolic tag line of the bunch ("Count on ... revenge!"), but its real strength is in wisely playing the already thrilling story straight. Other than Luis Guzman's gangsta-lean portrayal of the sidekick Jacopo, the usual modern audience concessions – flavor-of-the-month teen stars, martial arts "reimaginings" – are jettisoned in favor of old-fashioned yarn spinning. Director Kevin Reynolds, freed from the reins of Kevin Costner's bad accent and ego (he helmed Robin Hood and Prince of Thieves), keeps up the pace nicely, while Caviezel's swashbuckling and Pearce's camp Basil Rathbone homage of sneers and vowel-slithering suggest that this generation may get some new matinee idols thrown into the bargain as well. The Count of Monte Cristo opens Fri/25. See Movie Clock for show times. (David Fear)