But then Kyle's brother (Rob Harmon) shows up and the sweetness and light start fading in Casper Andreas' wrenching, uncompromising and unpredictable "Between Love & Goodbye." The brother has profound transgender issues. He's desperate to be cared for, and a master manipulator of Kyle, who at heart is naive and saucer-shallow. The brothers' close bond was cemented when their mother committed suicide and from the get-go it's clear -- not to Kyle, of course -- that his brother is out to destroy his relationship with Marcel.
"Between Love & Goodbye" is a well-made and absorbing cautionary tale. Performances are first-rate, and Jon Fordham's cinematography glows.
-- Kevin Thomas "Between Love & Goodbye." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes. At the Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848-3500.
Frightening ride into darkness
If you step aboard "Shuttle," be prepared for one heck of a ride filled with suspense, action and ever-escalating terror. With this ingenious thriller, Edward Anderson, who wrote the heist flick "Flawless," makes an audacious directorial debut.
Two attractive young women, Mel (Peyton List) and Jules (Cameron Goodman), arrive back home in the wee morning hours to a sprawling unnamed city after a vacation in Mexico.
They and three other passengers accept an offer from an airport shuttle driver (Tony Curran) to take them downtown. Anderson's imagination and attention to detail never flag, and the ensuing plight of the passengers has a chilling, creepily consistent credibility. His people are well-defined and well-played. Violence and horror erupt, yet "Shuttle" is consistently compelling and ever-tantalizing.
-- Kevin Thomas "Shuttle." MPAA rating: R for strong violence, terror, language and brief nudity. Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes. At the Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848-3500.
Zooming in on Manzanar camps
As its subtitle explains, "Toyo's Camera" explores "Japanese American History During WWII." That's a broad canvas to paint, and this documentary often feels unfocused. At its heart is a collection of elegant, affecting images: black-and-white photographs of California's Manzanar Relocation Center taken by one of its internees, Toyo Miyatake, and his friends Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. The film is far more static than any of those pictures. Their cumulative effect is, nonetheless, a sweeping introductory portrait of life in an internment camp.
Miyatake already had made a name for himself as a photographer in L.A.'s Little Tokyo when he and his family were transported to the Owens Valley camp. He smuggled in a lens and film holder and, with the help of a mechanic friend, constructed a wooden box of a camera. Eventually, the camp director gave him free rein to document his involuntary desert home, which he did with an artist's eye for composition and inner life. Among the former internees interviewed for the documentary are Miyatake's octogenarian son Archie. But Miyatake, who died in 1979, remains elusive. The most personal reminiscence comes from actor George Takei, recalling a haunting exchange with his father about the camps.
Takei provides a snippet of narration toward the film's end -- just what is desperately needed elsewhere. Director Junichi Suzuki's film offers compelling insights into a long-shrouded chapter of history, yet "Toyo's Camera" lacks the subtlety of its subject's work.
-- Sheri Linden "Toyo's Camera." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes. At Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, 1332 2nd St., Santa Monica, (310) 394-9741; opens March 15 at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St., downtown Los Angeles, (213) 680-3700.