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BOSTON FILM FESTIVAL

Redundancy is the sad reality of 'Imaginary Heroes'

Is it redundant to describe "Imaginary Heroes" as "Ordinary People" meets "American Beauty"?

Probably, but that's what happens when a script delights in being the latest regeneration of the family-in-crisis story, and it's presented with enough forced irreverence to be a film review. Today, as in 1980, the story focuses on how the suicide of an overachieving young man weighs heavily on his guilt-ridden younger brother. Emile Hirsch plays Tim, the surviving son who can't stand his judgmental dad (Jeff Daniels) and gets no parental guidance from his free-spirited mom (Sigourney Weaver). His parents' marriage is a house of cards, which Tim somehow knows he shoulders the blame for, too, even if he doesn't know why.

Writer-director Dan Harris has to make sure his characters show the requisite quirkiness, so there's a pot-buying bust and random homosexual experience tossed breezily into the mix. Many moments are funny and/or poignant, but they're so unnaturally orchestrated that even the most startling revelations aren't convincing.

Overall, the film feels manufactured, which is inevitably the trouble with third-generation clones.

`Ong-bak: The Thai Warrior' Don't look to this film for thoughtful subtitled storytelling. It isn't an elaborate historical appreciation of the Kingdom of Siam. It's a synthesizer-infused martial arts melee set mostly in modern-day Bangkok. What there is of a plot involves a young man's heroic quest to recover the stolen head of his village's priceless Buddha statue, but director Prachya Pinkaew only uses that as an excuse to stage an exhausting number of fight scenes and chases in which every stylish move is replayed at least once. This one is for action fans -- repeat -- action fans.

`Man Dancin' ' Maybe because Scottish gangster films aren't so broadly stereotyped as the underworld stories of some other ethnicities, a story such as this can seem fresh even when it's mining familiar ground. In this cool, engrossing film, written by Sergio Casci and directed by Norman Stone, Alex Ferns stars as Jimmy Kerrigan, an ex-con who takes on the corrupt Glasgow infrastructure. Jimmy's participation in a church Passion play enables messianic overtones, with salvation as the overriding theme.

`King of the Corner' This is a film that likes to meander. Its script by director Peter Riegert and "Bad Jews and Other Stories" author Gerald Shapiro has no real plot, so it plays out as a collection of ho-hum, sometimes bizarre life moments starring Riegert as a man with career troubles and a difficult family. Probably all of those moments are honest, but few make compelling viewing.

`Dead & Breakfast' It's tempting to call it last year's "Cabin Fever," since it's yet another slasher-film send-up that will appeal to horror fans who like their killings done with a wink and a chainsaw. But "Dead & Breakfast" isn't the straight-faced, crossover-aspiring homage that "Cabin Fever" was. Instead, Matthew Leutwyler's romp is a way-over-the-top parody that aims to be as comically direct as a homemade shotgun. And yes, some of it's pretty darn funny, in a "Braindead" sort of way.

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