A typically strong performance by Juliette Binoche can’t rescue this French erotic drama in which she plays a journalist writing a magazine article on student prostitutes in Paris. However, as she interviews two subjects (Joanna Kulig and Anais Demoustier) about their work, she begins to let her guard down and ask questions about exploring her own repressed desires. The film is most noteworthy for its graphic depictions of selected encounters between the escorts and their upscale clients, but Polish co-writer and director Malgorzata Szumowska in the process neglects her feminist lead character, whose transformation lacks the provocative emotional connection to which it aspires. (Rated NC-17, 99 minutes).
The Giant Mechanical Man
The only thing creakier than the title character in this low-budget romantic comedy might be the script. It tracks the story of Janice (Jenna Fischer), a zoo employee whose romantic and job prospects have hit a low point when she meets co-worker Tim (Chris Messina) who doubles as a robotic street performer. Complications ensue, however, when her sister (Malin Akerman) insists on setting Janice up with a self-absorbed pitchman (Topher Grace). The performances are endearing enough, and the working-class characters have a certain charm, but they are doomed by a screenplay from director Lee Kirk (Fischer’s real-life husband) that bogs down in eye-rolling contrivances. (Rated PG-13, 89 minutes).
Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale
This ambitious if overwrought historical epic takes place near the end of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan during the 1930s, and traces the attempts of Mona Rudao (Lin Ching-Tai) to free his indigenous family from the slavery and cultural oppression that resulted. The film includes some stunning visuals, including a few terrific jungle battle scenes, even if the script sometimes falls victim to cliches. Still, it finds an emotional center and effectively conveys the horror and heroism from a point in history that many moviegoers likely don’t know existed. Even at its current length, the American release has been cut almost in half from the Taiwanese original. (Not rated, 155 minutes).