Rating: * * * * Director: Giuseppe Tornatore Running time: 92 minutes Language: Italian/EnglishOpens June 9

These days, we've become used to women in cinema meeting certain standards. They should be visually stunning, but they must also be brave, self-assertive, sometimes violent, smart and cool. They are the kind of women who command ultra-respect or get major girlfriend points because the laws of the box office deem it so. These are the women that women audiences want to see.

So it is that women in movies become more super-duper with each passing year, making a work like "Malena" commendable if only for the defiant courage of filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore ("Cinema Paradiso," "The Legend of 1900"). Here is a director unafraid to row against the current, to become the target of mountains of feminist hate mail, to attract reviews describing his latest work as "a film that has no outstanding features except for the breasts of the lead actress."

Actually, the last is an injustice. It should have said, "except for the breasts, hips, legs, ankles and a few hairdos of the lead actress."