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Before Sunset, Richard Linklater's 9-years-later revisitation of the chatty post-slacker characters in Before Sunrise, is better than it has any reason to be, and better than the first film. It's short (80 minutes) but seems even shorter--why does it move so swiftly? The dialogue is banal, the people only passably interesting, the steadicam views of Paris postcard-pretty, the story bare-bones, but some potent cinema magic is working here. Ethan Hawke hasn't changed--he's still the callow searcher with the bad existentialist schtick. Julie Delpy, however, is more neurotic, more of a controller, and funnier than she was in the first film. Maybe she (the actress) has "lived more" since '94; maybe it's just hard to see her as a nice person after the king-hell bitch she played in Kieslowski's White, but she seems to be driving the story and riveting the viewer's attention here. I wish I could mention a single concrete reason why she or the movie are so compelling, though.
Speaking of revisiting older films, count me among the non-fans of Donnie Darko, the Director's Cut. Until today I felt certifiably cool for having seen the original release during its one-week theatrical run in fall 2001, but I agree with the reviewer who said 20 minutes of added footage makes the film "bloated." What was a mysterious, off-center, multiply-interpretable film is now over-explained and I would say normalized, with the addition of superimposed pages from Grandma Death's book about time travel (formerly DVD extra material), scenes showing a warmer relationship between Donnie and his family (and his therapist), completely unnecessary classroom pontification about Watership Down led by beatnik English teacher Drew Barrymore, and rather ordinary videoscreen effects added to the trippy sequences. I just ordered the original DVD in a mild panic that this cut will replace it.The line "Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion" remains intact in both versions, happily.