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Three Strikes And You're 'Eros'

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 8, 2005; Page WE46

The three-part anthology film thing rarely works because, almost inevitably, one, two or all of the individual works suffer by comparison.

This collection of "erotic" works by Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, Steven Soderbergh and Michelangelo Antonioni must have sounded like a great idea; after all, these are fine filmmakers. But the result is far less interesting.

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The best one comes from Wong, whose "The Hand" is about an apprentice tailor Xiao Zhang (Chang Chen), who becomes erotically obsessed with courtesan Hua Yibao (God's gift to silkiness, Gong Li), who demands gorgeous costumes for her high-paying clients, but on very loose credit. Zhang's repressed love for her (which begins with an erotic first meeting) continues over the years despite Hua's career decline.

Soderbergh's "Equilibrium," in which the eccentric Nick Penrose (Robert Downey Jr.) talks to his highly distracted psychiatrist (Alan Arkin) about a disturbing, recurring dream, is visually intriguing, for its black-and-white cinematography. But it's a little too odd to follow or care about. Still, it's slightly better than Antonioni's "The Dangerous Thread of Things," a surprisingly uninvolving affair about the dead marriage of a middle-age couple (Christopher Buchholz and Regina Nemni) and the other woman (Luisa Ranieri) who comes between them. It doesn't seem like overstating things to say that "Eros" becomes steadily worse as it goes along.

EROS (Unrated, 104 minutes) --Contains nudity and obscenity. "The Hand" is in Cantonese with subtitles; and "The Dangerous Thread of Things" is in Italian with subtitles. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.


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