Top-grossing Chinese helmer Feng Xiaogang has alternated between romantic comedies and big-budget historical epics with remarkable consistency in recent years, padding out two pleasant servings of "If You Are the One" with an earthquake-themed tearjerker ("Aftershock") and a wartime famine drama ("Back to 1942″). Back in the laffer realm with "Personal Tailor," a sly bit of satirical whimsy about a company that brings people's fantasies of wealth and power to life, Feng has not only continued the trend but fashioned an unofficial sequel to one of his early hits, 1997′s "The Dream Factory." An easy-on-the-eyes trifle with a few pleasingly sharp edges, "Tailor" is likely too mild and episodic to catch on offshore, though domestically it's off to a fine start with $13 million -- the second-highest opening of all time for a mainland release.
-- Justin Chang
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The New Rijksmuseum
(Films Transit)
Clocking in at four hours, Oeke Hoogendijk's "The New Rijksmuseum" may sound like the ultimate treat for culture hounds, who have been deprived access to the Amsterdam fixture's robust collection for the duration of its decade-long renovation. However, the process-oriented docu is actually better suited to an even more rarefied breed -- namely, those bemused by bureaucracy and fascinated by the vise it holds on fine art. With its emphasis on ugly inner workings over superficially pretty pictures, this hefty project is best served anywhere that dialogues might follow, as opposed to cold viewings at New York's Film Forum, where it opened Wednesday.
-- Peter Debruge
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Two Lessons
(Nonfiction Cinema Releasing)
Two hourlong documentaries by Wojciech Staron -- 1998′s "Siberian Lesson" and 2011′s "Argentinian Lesson" -- constitute the feature "Two Lessons," spanning 15 years and two continents as the director follows his wife, Malgosia, to her teaching assignments abroad. Glimpses of life under extreme conditions in both regions (economic in Argentina, economic and climactic in Siberia) maintain interest in two diaristic efforts that nonetheless offer only limited insight into the people and cultures depicted. Of primary appeal to students of ethnographic film, the pic made its theatrical debut Dec. 16 with a weeklong run at New York's Maysles Cinema, and may announce further U.S. dates in coming weeks.
-- Dennis Harvey
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