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Waste Land (NR)

Almega Projects/Arthouse Films

The nominal star of Lucy Walker's scruffy but enlightening documentary is Vik Muniz, a Sao Paolo-born modern artist and photographer famed for creating beautiful works out of household materials. Waste Land follows Muniz as he prepares for an ambitious attempt to photograph the people inside the world's largest landfill. Just outside Rio de Janeiro, the Jardim Gramacho landfill receives all the refuse from this densely populated and acutely class-conscious city, including its poorest and most desperate people. This city made of garbage is home to the catadores — "pickers" who comb through the trash in search of recyclables. Although Muniz and his project are marginally interesting, the stories of the catadores-cum-muses (women who view it as their only alternative to prostitution) provide a bounty of heart and soul. — Daniel Barnes

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Beneath the Dark (NR)

IFC Films

A young couple (Josh Stewart and Jamie-Lynn Sigler) driving through the Mojave Desert get into an accident and pull over at a creepy motel for some well-deserved rest. The night manager is overly friendly, and the only other guest is a chain-smoking dude who seems to know way too much about the couple's past. As the story unfolds, we flash back to the night manager having been fired from a security guard job for manually pleasuring himself with a pair of panties, and to his wife going to a bar for a sleazy one-night stand. They're all connected in a spiritually chilling twist that works as a great payoff. Problem is that Beneath the Dark takes so long to get to the point that less patient viewers will be more inclined to give up in frustration. It's totally worth the wait, but even I found myself checking the DVD timer throughout the film. — Louis Fowler

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Embodiment of Evil (NR)

Synapse Films

He wears a black cloak and top hat and has 6-inch-long fingernails. He spits on God, impregnates at will and kills on sight. He's Zé do Caixão ("Coffin Joe"), the biggest horror icon to come out of Brazil. Having first appeared in a series of 1960s shockers that pushed terror boundaries, writer/director/star José Mojica Marins steps back into the role that created a worldwide sensation, bringing the malevolent madman to a new generation of genre fans. Released from prison after 40 years, Joe wastes no time in getting down to his original obsessive business: finding the perfect vessel to give him a child of pure evil, all the while haunted by the ghosts of his past kills. Filled with disturbing visuals in an otherworldly Sao Paulo, Coffin Joe is a truly original creation, bred out of frustrated Catholicism and disillusioned politics. — Louis Fowler


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