Sept. 18, 12:45 p.m., Scotiabank 2
Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) Kiran Rao (India)
Move over Bollywood, because India is going indie. More precisely, it's showing some early signs of returning to the auteur-driven sensibilities of a director like Satyajit Ray. Here, making her feature debut, Kiran Rao takes us to teeming Mumbai in the monsoon season, then glides fluidly through the urban strata embodied in her three principal characters - an affluent Indian-American woman with photographic ambitions; a dour artist with a troubled marital past; and a hunky laundry boy (a dhobi) keen to climb out of the slums and into the movies. Perched on their different rungs, each is looking up or down the social ladder and doing the same thing but from different motives: peering, either curiously or enviously, into the lives of others. As they do, the film means to be the cinematic answer to Suketu Mehta's book, Maximum City - that is, it wants to draw a vibrant portrait of Mumbai in all its cruel beauty. Wants to, and almost succeeds. R.G.
Sept. 18, 12 p.m., Bell Lightbox 1
Stone John Curran (USA)
Does sin come naturally to human beings? That, and how to look to be forgiven for it, is at the heart of Stone, especially where crimes that never reach a courtroom are concerned. Edward Norton steals the show as Gerald (Stone) Creeson, a convict of eight years looking for freedom through his parole officer, Jack Mabry (Robert De Niro). Norton is thoughtful and clever, but reptilian and rough. As Mabry, De Niro grapples ably with his own demons, entangled with the efforts of Lucetta Creeson (Milla Jovovich), a seductive manipulator trying to spring her husband. This film isn't without flaws: For example, its religious overtones, framed by the devout rituals of Jack's wife Madylyn and squawked out over Christian radio, don't quite strike the right chord. But it's worth the price of admission to see Norton and De Niro sparring across a prison-house desk. J.B.
Sept. 18, 6 p.m., Ryerson
Route Irish Ken Loach (U.K./France/Belgium/Italy/Spain)
Veteran British social-realist director Ken Loach's new conspiracy thriller focuses on private security companies, and the struggle of former guard-for-hire Fergus (Mark Womack), back in his hometown of Liverpool, trying to find out the truth about the death of his friend, Frankie, killed on Route Irish, between the Baghdad Airport and the Green Zone. When he is given a cellphone with incriminating evidence on it at the funeral, Fergus begins to find out about the company they both worked for, and finds his own life in danger. Full of fury and good intentions, Route Irish is a disappointment, unconvincing as a thriller and heavy-handed in depicting the dehumanizing effects of war. L.L.
Sept. 18, 3 p.m., Ryerson
Jucy Louise Alston (Australia)
This good-natured Australian "womance" follows two co-dependent twentysomething friends, the flamboyant, slightly unstable Jackie, and the overweight, underachieving Lucy. Together they end up acting in a community-theatre adaptation of Jane Eyre, which tests their friendship. The movie's second half - an attempt to add some pathos to the kooky mix (overbearing families, mental-health issues) - is strained but Jucy is a start in the right direction: Gal-pal comedies can be about more than shopping sprees and career girls landing Mr. Right. L.L.
Sept. 11, 7:45 p.m., AMC 2; Sept. 13, 8:45 p.m., AMC 9; Sept. 18, 12:15 p.m., AMC 10
Modra Ingrid Veniger (Canada)
Modest and appealing, this Before Sunset-style drama follows 17-year-old Lina (Hallie Switzer) and a male school friend, Leco (Alexander Gammal), who accompanies her on a trip to her family's hometown of Modra, Slovakia. Both teenagers are nursing emotional wounds - she's just been dumped by her boyfriend, his mother has recently died. Old World scenery and music and a non-professional cast give the Slovakian interlude the quality of a breezy travelogue (marred by the precious inclusion of an enigmatic mute magician). The easy, natural performances from the young actors are refreshingly realistic: They come across as awkward, curious, empathetic and, mostly, a pleasure to hang out with. L.L.
Sept. 18, 5:15 p.m., AMC 2
Outside the Law (Hors la loi) Rachid Bouchareb (France/Algeria/Tunisia/Italy/Belgium)