Runs Fri., April 4-Thurs., April 10 at Varsity This anime import started out as a half-hour action-adventure series on Japanese television. (Here, it


Brief Encounters

Cowboy Bebop, Derrida, Dysfunktional Family, A Man Apart, and What a Girl Wants.


Runs Fri., April 4-Thurs., April 10 at Varsity This anime import started out as a half-hour action-adventure series on Japanese television. (Here, it continues to run, intermittently, on the Cartoon Network.) Centering around a team of bounty-hunters based on 23rd-century Mars, the original series differed from other such in one respect only: Its devotion to viscerally stirring, utterly mindless aestheticized violence is temperedmaybe saturated would be a better wordwith an almost desperate and very Japanese dedication to coolcool graphics, cool music, cool style, stance, attitude. As a movie, Bebop is more of the sameand at just under two hours, rather too much more. Instead of a few nubbins of token exposition salting each visually dazzling half-hour episode, it's larded with long dry passages unnecessarily explicating the inexplicable. Well, not quite unnecessary: A film this long can't sustain continuous action, and the makers know it. But the material they've contrived to separate the action sequences has all the flavor of Styrofoam peanuts. So, a flop? Not at all. If you're at all sensitive to purely visual expression, even the blah-blah sequences of Bebop are worth watching, and the action passages are so full of optical wit and flair that they easily transcend fatuities of plotting and dialogue. Any male who retains a trace of adolescent musk will probably respond to this film, even if he's afraid to admit it. I suspect that women of all ages will hate it, though aspiring punk-rock divas might pick up some useful style tips. (NR) ROGER DOWNEY DERRIDA

Runs Fri., April 4-Sat., April 5 at Little Theatre Unsurprisingly, the French philosopher and father of deconstructionism, Jacques Derrida, turns out to be a terrible interview subjectand that's a compliment. The inept American documentary filmmakers who follow him from Paris to New York to South Africa are totally outmatched by their subject (also no surprise), and they don't help their cause by having someone read droning passages from his work over their montage. Frankly, this would be a perfectly fine little profile if the man never discussed his overhyped theories at all. He's like a charming, white-haired Columbo, constantly interrupting his interlocutors with questions of his ownlike when Peter Falk gets to the door, then turns around and nails his suspects with, "Just one more thing. . . . " Grad students and academics will be the main audience for this affectionate, slapdash portrait, and they can snicker at how the callow filmmakers attempt to illustrate Derrida's thinking by filming him watching a film of himself. Quelle profound! (NR) BRIAN MILLER DYSFUNKTIONAL FAMILY

Opens Fri., April 4 at Meridian and others Comedians aren't funny anymore. Have you noticed this? Case in point, the idiot in this new mock/rock/doc/umentary, Eddie Griffin. Griffin, the "star" of Malcolm & Eddie and Undercover Brother, shows up for his big stand-up gig in the requisite leather pantsa nod to a different Eddie perhaps?and uses the words "nigger" and "motherfucker" so often you figure he must have some quota to fill. But unlike other funnymen who can pull that off because there are actual jokes attached to their obscenities, Griffin just ends up looking like a hack. He drags up tired old clich鳠like Michael Jackson's sexuality, race relations, and booty calls, then tries to pass them off as the keen, Pryor-meets-Seinfeld observations they're not. Worse yet are the spliced-in scenes of Griffin's family talking about what a gifted, funny kid he was and how they all knew he was destined for stardom. How wrong they were. (R) LAURA CASSIDY  

Vin makes his point in Apart.

photo: Rico Torres/New Line A MAN APART

Opens Fri., April 4 at Meridian and others Before you accept the reality that Vin Diesel is America's pre-eminent action hero, ask yourself the following: Would you ever, ever have seen a goddamn Chihuahua sniffing trunks for coke during Schwarzenegger's prime? If Steven Seagal's wife again, remember his primewere gunned down by ruthless cartel thugs, would he pass on an opportunity to humiliate/ cripple/behead the prime suspect in his holding cell? Even in an oft-traveled, cop-out-of-control revenge spiral, Vin's all meathead, no menace. A gangbanger-turned-cavalier-DEA-agent, he tracks down a surly drug lord, then dances with his gorgeous wife at sunset. The audacity! After she's suitably bullet-riddled, there's time for grief (Larenz Tate consoles Vin in his hospital bed, but in a totally heterosexual way, dammit!), acceptance, then the long, determineder, make that just longroad to payback. Apart shuffles the villain deck every five minutes, so you're never quite sure, or remotely curious about, who masterminded the hit. (R) ANDREW BONAZELLI  

Amanda meets daddy Colin in Girl.

photo: Frank Connor WHAT A GIRL WANTS

Opens Fri., April 4 at Metro and others Daphne (Amanda Bynes, of the WB) is an independent New Yorker, having gone through her 16 years without meeting her English father, Lord Dashwood (Colin Firth, the only bearable actor in this film). So she flies to London to surprise him but only ends up annoying British society with her crude, unpolished Yankee ways, wrecking havoc at debutante balls and crew meets. Almost every aspect of Girl is secondhand clich麠the alterna-rocker who appreciates the "real" Daphne; the evil stepsister conniving to bring her down; scenes of our doe-eyed heroinein enough lip gloss, blond highlights, and hip huggers to outfit SPU's entire sorority rowbecoming tearful when she sees father-daughter couples. Although Firth doing his unsure-gentleman thing is amusing enough, everything else is poison. Laughs are zipexcept, unintentionally, the dialogue, at which my companion and I hooted and catcalled throughout. Add an atrocious soundtrack, plus worse camera work, and Girl turns into a toxic mess. (PG) ROSIE BOWKER

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