JESUS OF MONTREAL (Unrated) --
Canadian director Denys Arcand's modernist Passion play, which won the Jury prize at Cannes two years ago, finally arrives in Washington, and proves to be hardly worth the fuss. It's about a sensitive, down-and-out actor (Lothaire Bluteau) who gets the job of Jesus in a church production of the Passion play, then lets the role get to his head. But instead of going for the messianic fun of, say, "The Ruling Class," Arcand wants to make of this a spiritual lament against the modern world of advertising. It's a nice idea, Denys, but it's been done ad nauseam for the last 30 years. And that modern Christ thing -- ever hear of "Jesus Christ Superstar"? Actually, for the first half of the movie, Arcand does manage to avoid most of the self-conscious, symbol-flooded pitfalls. But then he promptly leaps into every one of them. Some examples: After the church authorities (duhh, the Pharisees?) pull the plug on this Christ-and-the-Disciples production, the police (like, the Romans maybe?) come in and stop the play in mid-production. There's a struggle and Bluteau (who happens to be on the cross at the time) falls on his head. But don't worry, chances are you'll give up the ghost long before this happens. In French with subtitles. Key.
MAY FOOLS (Unrated) --
In director Louis Malle's latest, a far-flung family reunites at their "Cherry Orchard"-ish country estate for the funeral of their matriarch, and echoes of the social and sexual upheavals of May '68 in faraway Paris make themselves felt in the peaceful old house. Miou-Miou is among the stars. In French with subtitles. Biograph.