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In her first feature, High Art (1998), writer-director Lisa Cholodenko created a convincing milieu of media professionals who were both sexy and unpredictable. This sophomore effort is even better, confronting two uptight lovers (Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale) with the rock music scene when they graduate from Harvard Medical School and head west to complete their studies. Bale's mother (Frances McDormand), a famous record producer, is sleeping with the lead singer (Alessandro Nivola) of the British band she's recording at her Laurel Canyon home, and after she invites her son and his fiancee to move in, all sorts of unexpected things happen. McDormand has never been better, but all the performances are interestingly nuanced, including Natascha McElhone's as one of Bale's fellow psychiatric interns. I was put off by the inconclusive ending, but the rest of this movie more than makes up for it. 103 min. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark's Century Centre.

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