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Manny & Lo

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If there were any justice, Independence Day would have opened to silence while Manny & Lo spouted a box office gusher. But the only such equity is to be found in the video store, where we can redress some of the cultural absurdity that consistently rewards empty-headed mediocrity and makes this kind of witty, visionary independent effort abysmally rare. In writer-director Lisa Krueger’s beautifully off-kilter tale, two young orphaned sisters abduct a somewhat strange woman (Mary Kay Place, who is up to the simultaneous bathos and pathos of her role) to help them deliver an imminent bundle of befuddling joy. With its remarkable actors (Johansson, as kid sis Manny, stands out), absolute originality, and cool appraisal of American weirdnesses, this is as close to perfect as an hour and a half in front of the TV can get.