MA MERE (NC-17, 110 minutes)
Pierre loves his mother. No, I mean he really loves her. Based on a novel by Georges Bataille, French writer-director Christophe Honore's creepy art-porn flick tells the story of a young man's (Louis Garrel of "The Dreamers") coming-of-age under the watchful eye and sexual tutelage of his newly widowed mother, Helene (a not-nearly-embarrassed-enough Isabelle Huppert). Helene, a hard-partying hooker who until now has consigned Pierre to the care of his grandparents, is happy to have sonny boy visit her in her Canary Islands home, first setting him up with her working-girl gal pal, Rea (Joana Preiss), and then with the somewhat sweeter, but no less professional, Hansi (Emma de Caunes), each of whom takes Pierre, and you the viewer, on new and startling adventures in carnality. I thought the cab ride scene was weird, with one of Rea's hands up Helene's skirt and the other performing a proctologic exam on Pierre, but that was before Hansi and Pierre tie up -- and very nearly kill -- Hansi's childhood friend Loulou (Jean-Baptiste Montagut) in a bit of harmless S&M fun. Still, nothing compares to the climactic encounter between Pierre and Helene, which involves such a disturbing blend of unhealthy mother-son affection and physical pain that it gives new meaning to the term child -- not to mention audience -- abuse. "If you really love me," says Helene to Pierre, "then admit that I am disgusting." Heck, by those standards, Ma, I love you. Contains strong sexual content, nudity and obscenity. In French with subtitles. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.
-- Michael O'Sullivan
UNDEAD (R, 100 minutes)
The zombies are walking the earth again -- this time in small-town Australia, a little place named Berkeley, to be precise. It seems the source of this incursion comes from a cascade of meteorites, which have somehow caused the dead to rise and lumber after living human meat. Local beauty queen Rene (Felicity Mason) and a whacko survivalist in overalls (Mungo McKay) are among the surviving humans trying to get away. They join up with a pilot (Rob Jenkins), his pregnant girlfriend (Lisa Cunningham), the local deputy (Dirk Hunter) and his assistant (Emma Randall). It takes them most of the movie to figure out you have to shoot a zombie through the head to stop it. What, no one watches zombie films in Berkeley? The storyline becomes pretty tedious, thanks to an incredibly slow beginning and a scenario based entirely on running around in circles to get away from the undead. Twin Australian filmmakers Peter and Michael Spierig have introduced a few flashes of originality, including the spectacle of zombies floating in space. But the story is more undead than all of these revenant shufflers. And the orgy of gore and home-engineered special effects doesn't make up for the shortfall. Contains over-the-top violence and obscenity. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.
-- Desson Thomson