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PERIPHERAL VISIONS

Eat Drink Man Woman (Not rated, probably PG-13) (124 min.) _ Writer/director Ang Lee's follow-up to his Oscar-nominated 1993 comedy The Wedding Banquet is a benignly entertaining tale of family ties. The Chu family (led by its patriarch Tao Chu, wonderfully played by Sihung Lung) is splintering through the maturity of its children, Master Chu's contemporary-minded daughters. Lee doesn't offer as much information about these budding lives as one might wish, but that doesn't prevent him from making his wry, touching points about this Asian generation gap. Eat Drink Man Woman should not be viewed on an empty stomach; Tao Chu handles a gourmet kitchen better than he handles his family, and the resulting dishes make this film the most scrumptious film to watch since Like Water for Chocolate. B+

The Wedding Gift (PG-13) (100 min.) _ Julie Walters' brave, laugh-in-the face-of-disability performance is the best reason to see this drama, based on a true story. Walters is enormously moving as a woman struck down by a mysterious disease, whose faithful husband (dependable Jim Broadbent) is determined to see her through. The sort of odd twists that could happen only in real life ensue, making The Wedding Gift one of the most romantic medical dramas in memory; an uplifting film that equally balances its belly laughs and heart tugs. A-

_ STEVE PERSALL

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