The 30th Chicago International Film Festival | Festival | Chicago Reader

The 30th Chicago International Film Festival 

The Schedule

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FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14
The Servile

Didactic cinema is seldom seen in the U.S., though it's common in cultures where moviemaking has become an extension of oral tradition. In the hands of a master like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, an instructive tale of good and evil doesn't have to sacrifice individuality, humanity, or entertainment value. Take The Servile, which charts the moral destruction of Tommi, the timorous tenant farmer of Patelar, a cruel land baron. Patelar humiliates Tommi for sport in a variety of ways, from stripping and beating him on a public street to raping his wife and making her his mistress. Tommi's decision that his salvation lies in total submission proves to be a fatal one, for there is no vile act that the landlord will not carry out with the help of his servant. But the story's predictability becomes an asset rather than a liability: viewing the characters as black and white--one representing innocence, the other consummate evil--frees the viewer to appreciate the subtlety and detail with which Gopalakrishnan renders the story. (Scharres) (Pipers Alley, 5:00)

Rocco and His Brothers

An epic (180-minute) piece of postneorealism from Luchino Visconti about five brothers (Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Spiros Focas, Rocco Vidolazzi, Max Cartier) who, with their widowed mother (Katina Paxinou), leave their impoverished farm in southern Italy for the corruption of Milan. This looks today like a primary source for the overheated operatic style, homoerotic intensity, quasi-incestuous delirium, and casual conceptual misogyny of Scorsese (Mean Streets and Raging Bull), Coppola (the Godfather films), and Cimino (The Deer Hunter, The Sicilian)--and you may have to hold the cruder elements of those filmmakers in higher regard than I do to consider this florid precursor a genuine classic rather than a mannerist touchstone. (It's no surprise that Scorsese was responsible for the film's 1992 reissue.) Visconti is an incontestable master in films as diverse as Senso, The Leopard, and The Innocent; but those films don't employ women as unconvincingly or as insultingly as this one does, and if memory serves, Visconti's upper-class view of poverty in La terra trema is considerably less myopic than it is here. Still, if you don't mind the unpleasantness of the boxing and rape scenes, you may be swept along by the sheer grace and stamina of Visconti's mise en scene, not to mention Nino Rota's music. Based on Giovanni Testori's novel The Bridge of Ghisolfa; with Annie Girardot, Roger Hanin, Suzy Delair, Claudia Cardinale, and in a smaller role Adriana Asti (1960). (JR) (Pipers Alley, 5:00)

The Damned

The base concept here--to treat the Nazi era as a tattered Wagner opera--is rather obvious and limited, but it does provide a springboard for Luchino Visconti's assorted fetishes, both thematic and stylistic. The camera moves and the world crumbles. With Dirk Bogarde, Ingrid Thulin, Helmut Berger, Charlotte Rampling, Helmut Griem, and Rene Koldehoff (1969). (DK) (Fine Arts, 5:30)

The Troubles We've Seen

Marcel Ophuls, whose political documentaries somehow manage to be gonzo and rigorous at the same time, has taken on the subject of war correspondents in the long but amply rewarding The Troubles We've Seen. Zeroing in on reporters and photojournalists operating out of Sarajevo, Ophuls launches an attack with his characteristic weapons; on-camera provocations, personal commentaries, cheap movie jokes, and in-depth analysis. Some of the reporters come off remarkably well--John F. Burns of the New York Times appears as a particularly thoughtful, responsible figure. Others, such as the announcers and assignment editors for French television, get a strenuous tweaking, though Ophuls unleashes his full rage only at the leaders of the Serbian nationalists and at an independent French filmmaker who shows up in Sarajevo just so he can say he's been there. "Uneven" would be too mild a word for The Troubles We've Seen, a film that veers without warning from deeply moving interview footage to staged psychodrama. But stay with it--you're unlikely to find another film that asks so persistently or pressingly the key questions, "What do we know?" and "How do we know it?" (SK) (Pipers Alley, 7:00)

The Silences of the Palace

One of the best films to hit the festival circuit this year, Tunisian director Moufida Tlatli's The Silences of the Palace uses a story-telling technique that emphasizes unforced observation, drawing the viewer into the flashbacks of Alia, a careworn singer who relives scenes from her childhood while visiting the palace where she was born 26 years earlier. The daughter of a kitchen maid, Alia is raised in a uniquely communal way by a contingent of female servants, yet she senses early on that she is not entirely one of them. Fatherless, she longs to be singled out for privilege at the same time that she fears it. Her feelings vacillate between pride and shame when her beautiful mother is regularly required to dance for the prince's guests, and with a child's simplicity she strains to understand why. The story is integrated into a larger, complex picture of the give-and-take between all-powerful rulers and those they command, an ancient relationship and a special world that the film lets us know is soon to fall. The film's greatest strength and beauty come from its depiction of the lives of the palace women; all the behind-the-scenes merriment, daily rituals, and camaraderie make this not a polemic on third world feudalism but a drama about the growth of a woman whose life is marked by both great strength and tragic abuse. (Scharres) (Fine Arts, 7:00)

Saul Bass Program

A presentation of the work of graphic designer and filmmaker Saul Bass, perhaps best known for his Oscar-winning short film Why Man Creates, his SF feature Phase IV, and the credit sequences he designed for Otto Preminger's films. Bass himself will host the event. (JR) Music Box, 7:00)

Back to Back, Face to Face

Director Jianxin Huang revives the sophistication of 1940s Shanghai cinema with this striking mixture of elegance, humor, and humanism, certainly one of the most exhilarating films to come out of contemporary China. But a lot of water has flowed in the Yangtze since the 1940s, and the villains have shifted from the Kuomintang and abject poverty to party bureaucracy, nepotism, and the one-child policy. Wang is acting director of a cultural center; he's honest, competent, well-liked, and humble, always ready to compromise to please the powers that be. Yet he keeps getting passed over for promotion to full directorship: the job goes first to a boorish country bureaucrat and later to a well-connected yuppie who struts about the office in a leather jacket. Wang has to deal with his wife, who is not far from thinking him a fool, and his elderly father, who insists on having a grandson even though the couple have already filled the government's quota with one lovely daughter. Populated by colorful, likable characters, the film abounds in exquisitely drawn situations, maintaining a subtle balance between satire and compassion. The chubby protagonist is no hero, just an ordinary Joe devoted to his wife and family; Wang is stuck in a dehumanizing bureaucracy, and he must devise a number of ways--some silly, some crafty, some funny, all ultimately moving--to survive and save face. (BR) (Fine Arts, 8:00)

Life's Too Good

Three generations of Rosen women--kvetchy grandma, divorced mother, and two daughters--face life, love, and relationships in this smartly written (and Hal Hartley-underwritten) and sweetly directed first film by Hilary Weisman, 24, a precocious graduate of Boston University's film school. Perhaps Weisman should have developed the Jewishness of the milieu a bit more, and the theme could be clarified--life's too good for what? But the four actresses portraying the Rosens are credible and at ease as an upper-middle-class 'burb family, and there's not a gun, a knife, or a rapist anywhere. (GP) Also on the program: a New Zealand short titled La Vie en Rose. (Pipers Alley, 8:15)

The Buddy Factor

A comedy from American independent George Huang about the nastiness, humiliation, and revenge fantasies hatched in a Hollywood production office where a film student becomes the personal assistant to an abusive studio executive; Glengarry Glen Ross's Kevin Spacey stars. (JR) (Music Box, 9:00)

Red

Red, which closes Krzysztof Kieslowski's magnificent "Tricolor" trilogy in magisterial fashion, may well be the only film successfully shot from the point of view of Fate. As might be expected, Fate paints in gratifyingly sweeping strokes: the heroine's pensive face on a chewing-gum billboard ad covers an entire intersection, and the looked-down-upon perambulations of two characters who loop and glide around each other without quite meeting make for an exhilarating ride. She (Irene Jacob) is a model in love with an Englishman with whom she has long, awkward phone conversations, while he's a law student in love with a blond who does "personalized" weather reports over the phone. That their respective significant others are a twit and a bimbo, unworthy of their love, is an inescapable and probably unfair conclusion. But one of the liberating advantages of a fate's-eye point of view is that fairness has nothing to do with it. Perhaps no one understands this better than the character to whom our heroine is led when she runs over and then has to care for his dog--a retired judge (played, in authoritatively seamy fashion, by Jean-Louis Trintignant) who electronically eavesdrops on his neighbors and may or may not embody fate on earth. If Kieslowski retires after this film, as he has stated he will, he couldn't have chosen a better swan song. (RS) (Fine Arts, 9:15)

Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatjana

Three minutes and we're comfortably into director Aki Kaurismaki's universe--feckless Finnish slackers who like to drink and can't connect with the women who love them, photographed in gloriously crisp black and white and presented with deadpan humor. Somehow it all ends up marvelously resonant and affecting. This time we're on a road trip with caffeine-addicted Valto, on the run from his slave-driving mom. Valto takes off with his mechanic friend Reino, who swills vodka as if it were water. During one of their pit stops for coffee, vodka, and cigarettes, they agree to give a lift to two Russian women tourists. Not much ensues, as the women--slender Tatjana and buxom Klaudia--try to mix it up with the guys; failing that, they change outfits and abuse their hosts' gallantry with girl talk. But the lesson of E.M. Forster ("only connect") proves universal, and one of our couples eventually gets together. The other doesn't. A perfect little movie. (MB) A New Zealand short, A Game With No Rules, fills out the program. (Pipers Alley, 9:45)

Total Balalaika Show

Who woulda thought that five years after Aki Kaurismaki's Leningrad Cowboys Go America the title band's one-joke appeal--huge, boatlike quiffs of hair matched by huge, boatlike shoes--would propel them to this year's MTV awards? One of the odder products of perestroika, this loony concert in Helsinki's main square features the Red Army Chorus (more than a hundred singers and musicians) backing up the Leningrad Cowboys. The deliriously happy crowd of some 50,000 Finns responds equally well to a sonorous version of Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and a rocking rendition of Sibelius's "Finlandia." A witty stage set (fake palm trees next to a large bust of Lenin) and choreographed interludes with costumed dancers provide some extra fun. But in the end this bizarre musical pairing also relies on one joke, and the pedestrian filmmaking--all numbers are played in their entirety, interspersed with shots of the crowd tirelessly waving banners and strenuously enjoying themselves--conspires to make this concert film seem a tad overlong at 55 minutes. (MB) Also playing is British director Paul Urwin's short Syrup, about "a man whose baldness has come to symbolize everything that is missing in his life." (Pipers Alley, 11:15)

A Nightmare on Elm Street

The Wes Craven thriller that launched a series; with John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, and Heather Langenkamp (1984). (Music Box, 11:30)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15
The Damned

See listing under Friday, October 14. (Pipers Alley, 12:00)

The Cow

Karel Kachyna's feature from the Czech Republic focuses on a love story between two social outcasts--the illegitimate son of a prostitute, who tries to keep his syphilitic mother alive by selling the family cow, and a younger prostitute from the same village. (JR) (Pipers Alley, 1:00)

Romance de Valentia

Dutch filmmaker Sonia Herman Dolz's quasi documentary is an improbably charming rumination on the mystique of Spanish bullfighting. Focusing primarily on one season in the meteoric career of 20-year-old sensation Enrique Ponce, Dolz moves adroitly back and forth between the arena and the various preparations that go on "backstage" before the fights. With almost fetishistic intensity, the film (featuring some lovely cinematography by Ellen Kuras) captures the ritualistic fervor that permeates every aspect of the fight, from the selection of cows for breeding purposes to the suiting up of the bullfighter to the manic ticket selling that goes on outside the arena. As the film's title implies, this is a highly romanticized view of bullfighting; the footage is interspersed with set pieces designed to highlight the mythic aspects of the fight, and all the talk about what a manly and virtuous "sport" it is is hard to take seriously when you see just how stacked the deck is against the bull. Still, the film does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the Spanish culture's love of the bullfight. A word of caution: the movie is quite graphic in its depiction of the bloodletting, so I wouldn't recommend it if you're squeamish or offended by the whole idea. (RP) (Music Box, 1:00)

A Shadow You Soon Will Be

Among Latin American filmmakers, the name of Hector Olivera has a special resonance. His latest work, A Shadow You Soon Will Be, is an allegorical tale that captures the dilemma of life in Argentina. Traveling south down a road crisscrossed with other paths are a motley group of characters: an engineer (Miguel Angel Sola), who has left his family in Europe and searches for a better existence; a former circus owner (Pepe Soriano) heading for Bolivia, where he dreams of pulling his biggest swindle yet; a banker (Eusebio Poncela) who is losing his memory and plans to bankrupt a nonexistent casino; and Barrante (Luis Brandoni), who carries a suitcase of hoses and sells showers to the farm workers he meets. These misfits, with their hopes, dreams, and disappointments, move toward an uncertain future for themselves and their country. The film conveys with great images the vast and promising land of Argentina, and in a mode of magical realism Olivera creates a work of love for his people and his land. (S&HR) (Fine Arts, 1:00)

Portrait of a Young Girl From Brussels

A brand-new, hour-long film from Chantal Akerman, which premiered at the Locarno film festival in August. It was made for the same excellent French TV series about adolescence that has yielded Wild Reeds and Too Much Happiness, both part of this festival. The full French title of Akerman's film indicates that it's set during the late 60s, and friends who made it to Locarno tell me it's great. (JR) (Fine Arts, 2:00)

Ryaba, My Chicken

Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky returns to the village of Bezvodnoye, where he filmed Asya's Happiness, 26 years and one political revolution later. Ryaba, My Chicken takes up the story of a group of peasants, now middle-aged, who used to live on a slapdash collective farm and now scrape by under a slapdash "democracy." Spitting the D-word over her right shoulder, addressing the camera as if it were God, Asya (Inna Churikova) looks a bit like a female Harpo Marx but still has a heartbreaker's smile, which remains irresistible to the wily, salt-of-the-earth Chirkunov (Guennadi Yegorichev). He has shocked the entire village by setting up a private enterprise--a sawmill--and actually making a profit. It turns out that his motive is to win Asya's heart, but she clings to a more traditional Russian attitude, tolerating wealth only when it shows up as if by magic, as it does one vodka-soaked night when her bosom companion, a chicken named Ryaba, grows to monstrous proportions and lays a golden egg. As postcommunist fables go, this one could have turned out to be as sparkling as wet cement. But the cast is so good and the direction so unforced (except for a couple of miscalculations--you'll know 'em when you see 'em) that Ryaba, My Chicken unexpectedly succeeds, achieving the droll whimsy it aims for. (SK) (Pipers Alley, 2:30)

The Golden Ball

A French/Guinean coproduction directed by Cheik Doukoure about a penniless 12-year-old soccer whiz from the West African provinces who runs away to the city, joins a famous French soccer team, and then has to decide whether or not to return home. (JR) (Pipers Alley, 3:00)

Too Much Happiness

Like Wild Reeds (which played last week) and Portrait of a Young Girl From Brussels (playing earlier today), Too Much Happiness is part of a French series called "All the Boys and Girls in Their Time." The premise: various directors tell stories set during their teenage years, featuring the pop music of the period. This contribution, by Cedric Kahn, puts us in the south of France in the 1980s among an uneasy quartet of high school students. One of them--the filmmaker's alter ego--is funny, awkward, bright, and of Arab background. He is hopelessly stuck on a blond girl from his school whose biggest virtues are her breasts and a go-along personality and whose best friend, more angular in both looks and personality, despairs of having anyone become similarly crazy over her. One night everyone gets together for a big, disorderly party, the gaudier-looking girl launches into a hot mid-party romance (though not with our future filmmaker), and all the stages of teen heartbreak get played out--a little too predictably, but with wonderfully vivid performances by the young cast and wonderfully truthful direction by Kahn. This might not be the most substantial work of art in the festival, but it's bound to be one of the more reliable date movies. (SK) (Music Box, 3:00)

The Leopard

Cut, dubbed, and printed using an inferior color process, Luchino Visconti's epic didn't leave much of an impression when it was first released in the U.S. in 1963; restored to the three-hour-and-five-minute Italian version, it seems not only Visconti's greatest work, but one that transcends its creator, achieving a sensitivity and intelligence without parallel in his other films. Burt Lancaster initiated his formidable mature period with his starring role as the aging aristocrat Don Fabrizio, working to find a place for himself and his family values in the new Italy being organized in the 1860s. The film's superb first two hours, which weave social and historical themes into rich personal drama, turn out to be only a prelude to the magnificent final hour--an extended ballroom sequence that leaves history behind to become one of the most moving meditations on individual mortality in the history of the cinema. With Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale. (DK) (Fine Arts, 3:00)

Hwaomkyung

A Korean feature by Chang Sun-woo, adapted from Buddhist scripture but set in the present, about an abandoned little boy searching through Korean cities and countryside for his mother, hearing stories from various people he meets, and eventually finding enlightenment. (JR) (Fine Arts, 4:00)

The Buddy Factor

See listing under Friday, October 14. (Pipers Alley, 5:00)

Dallas Doll

This is much too goofy to qualify as an absolute success, but it's so unpredictable, irreverent, and provocative that you may not care. Australian writer-director Ann Turner has a lot on her mind, and it's unlikely you'll be able to plot out many of her quirky moves in advance. Imagine Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema (with Sandra Bernhard in the Terence Stamp part--she seduces most members of a bourgeois Australian family, and enough other country-club notables to wind up as mayor) crossed with Repo Man and you'll get some notion of the cascading audacity. This is a satire about foreign invasion in which America (in the form of Bernhard, a spiritual "golf guru"), then Japan, and finally extraterrestrials in a spaceship all turn up to claim the land down under as their own. Along the way are delightfully incoherent dream sequences, bouts of strip miniature golf, some hilarious lampooning of the new-age mentality, and my favorite performance by a dog this year. Incidentally, Bernhard herself despises this movie and has been trashing it wherever she goes, but I liked it as well as or better than many of her routines. (JR) Running on the same program is Universal Appliance Co., a short by Australian Andrew Lancaster. (Pipers Alley, 5:00)

The Fire This Time

This video documentary by Randy Holland examines the 1992 LA riots, exploring both their causes and their effects on the black community in South Central. Though the film refreshlingly tells most of its story through the voices of community residents and leaders, and does a fine job of capturing the despair and devastation wrought, it lacks the kind of thorough historical analysis required to understand the root causes of the riots. Holland spends less than 10 of his 90 minutes on the history of LA's black community between 1850 and 1950, a time period that would provide some essential background information. He picks up the story in the aftermath of the 1965 riots in Watts, and even then too often constrains his analysis to FBI and police operations to decimate black leadership. The problem with this approach is that it tends to cast an unnecessarily conspiratorial pall over the story; while it is certainly true that the FBI and the LAPD have had a hand in destroying community leadership, to pin the blame for the rise of gangs, drugs, and weapons on these organizations is to avoid dealing with the subtler and far more devastating causes of neighborhood destruction. Only in the last ten minutes does the film touch on the heart of the issue, when a community leader blames insurance companies, increasing privatization, redlining, and various "urban renewal" policies for the destruction of the black community. As he says: "The real problem is that the last 25 years hasn't been about people, it's been about land." (RP) (Music Box, 5:00)

The Red Lotus Society

Everybody in The Red Lotus Society has something to conceal--a business fraud, a political association, a questionable past, or (in the case of the hero) an ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. The setting is Taipei, a city of jumbled old tenements and shiny new skyscrapers, where a young person today apparently has two options: pass the university entrance exam with the help of a less-than-honest cram course, or abandon such worldly concerns in hopes of learning the legendary art of vaulting. To American audiences, vaulting may be just one of those unbelievable feats from old kung fu movies. But to the hero of The Red Lotus Society it's part of the romance of China's past, which he imagines in atmospheric black and white--a striking contrast to the full-color mess of his daily world. Director Stan Lai has crammed pretty much everything he knows into this movie, which is less a drama than a whimsical, episodic survey of Taiwanese society. With a lesser filmmaker, the result would probably be self-indulgence; with Lai, it's go-for-broke entertainment, which flags only when you no longer have the energy to accept what the movie is so generously giving. (SK) (Fine Arts, 6:30)

Love and a .45

Another bleary, ill-conceived American independent road movie about a criminal couple on the lam. The primary problem with this film--as well as any number of others in this genre made in recent memory--is the unrelenting sameness of the plot: the desperate yet charming, none-too-bright couple traipsing across the southwest with a suitcase full of money pursued by all fashion of sweating, wide-eyed, psychotic bad hombres as they try to make it to the Mexican border. I think by now we've all gleaned the salient message that life--especially contemporary American life--is boring and meaningless, and that one of the best ways to alleviate the torpor is to become a criminal; if you can bring a significant other, so much the better. By choosing the outlaw's life, you can embrace one of the last pure manifestations of rebellious, nonconformist behavior and actualize your discontent with society. There is virtually nothing distinguishing about this film, and it borrows shamelessly from any number of directors, including Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch. Do yourself a favor: go rent Nicholas Ray's They Drive by Night, Sam Peckinpah's The Getaway, or Robert Altman's Thieves Like Us and steer clear of this insipid, prating goo. (JK) (Pipers Alley, 7:00)

Woyzeck

At a time when Eastern Europe--not to mention the rest of the world--seems to have no trouble finding contemporaneous expressions of angst, it seems almost perverse of Hungarian director Janos Szasz to bring back Buchner's bleak, unfinished opus for yet another cinematic go-round. This version is set in a railroad yard in winter, an industrialized nature in which Woyzeck seems right at home. The mesmerizing black-and-white photography limns rails and soot and water towers against the snow, and from the first image Woyzeck's switchyard hut seems an extension of him, a snail's shell he is driven at one point to drag around in pain. In contrast the house he shares with Marie seems unnaturally convoluted, a place for others, a place for shadows, complexities, and lovers. Lead actor Lajos Kovacs has a face that seems carved out of anguish and limitation, his destiny as clearly written there as in the preexistent text. And if he obeys voices only he can hear, the orders barked from the loudspeakers scattered throughout the yard or enforced by the experimenting doctor and his diet of peas offer few alternatives. (RS) (Fine Arts, 7:00)

Heavenly Creatures

Pigeonholed as a cult director after the splatter films Bad Taste and Dead Alive and the puppet musical Meet the Feebles, New Zealander Peter Jackson now joins the ranks of world-class filmmakers with Heavenly Creatures, a complex exploration of one of his country's most notorious crimes (and winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice film festival). Scripted from field research and the diaries seized as evidence from schoolgirl Pauline Rieper, the film re-creates her intense friendship with imperious British implant Juliet Hulme. When they meet in 1952, the teenagers discover many shared passions, including a love for singer Mario Lanza. Possessed of fertile imaginations and a disdain for those less gifted, they invent a "Fourth World" that they alone can enter, including the "kingdom of Borovnia," where the girls detail every move of the debauched court. Increasingly interdependent, Pauline and Juliet begin to lose their grip on reality, and an attempt by their parents to separate them catalyzes a plan for murder. Jackson smoothly incorporates the latest in special effects to enable the audience to experience their fantasy world, and the film's brilliant casting, imaginative camera work, and precise pace lend psychological insight into the way the Rieper-Hulme relationship spiraled out of control and ended in tragedy. (AS) (Music Box, 7:00)

The Silences of the Palace

See listing under Friday, October 14. (Pipers Alley, 7:15)

Love Hurts

Mijke de Jong's Dutch feature is a love story set in Amsterdam between a woman who lives on a barge and hangs out with musicians, junkies, and illegal aliens and a small-time lawyer who disapproves of her friends. To be shown with a short film from France, Michael Peterli's Rue Vavin. (JR) (Pipers Alley, 9:00)

Family

Remember The Snapper, last year's feel-good version of life in a large Irish family? Family, also scripted by the prolific Roddy Doyle, plays like that film's dysfunctional twin. Grimly compelling, with beautifully nuanced performances, it offers a sobering and realistic look at how domestic violence, alcoholism, and adultery affect a family. The dynamics of the blue-collar Spencer household are seriously skewed by Charlo, the father. He's a domineering, sometimes brutal lout who seems never to have left adolescence. When not drinking with his buddies, he gleefully commits petty crimes. His long-suffering wife Paula takes care of their four children and the house, but whenever she questions her mate, she receives a torrent of abuse. Eldest son John Paul is 12, an age at which he yearns for paternal attention. Pretty daughter Nicola is 15, and her maturation into womanhood is having a strange effect on her father. Originally a four-hour BBC series, with one episode focusing on each of the principal characters, this version is condensed by half and occasionally feels abrupt and choppy. But that's just a quibble; the extant material retains a powerful emotional appeal. (AS) (Fine Arts, 9:00)

Movie Days

Fridrik Thor Fridriksson's Icelandic feature about a boy coming of age during the 60s, growing up on American movies and TV shows in Reykjavik, then discovering nature and traditional Icelandic culture at a relative's farm. To be shown with Drop, a short film from Italian animator Bruno Bozzetto. (JR) This screening is tentative; call for confirmation. (Fine Arts, 9:00)

The World of Animation

Short films from Germany, Bulgaria, Canada, Mexico, France, Hungary, the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Sweden. (Music Box, 9:00)

Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatjana

See listing under Friday, October 14. (Pipers Alley, 9:30)

The Serpent and the Rainbow

An unusually ambitious effort from horror specialist Wes Craven (The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street), filmed on location in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, this genuinely frightening thriller from 1988 follows the travels of an anthropologist (Bill Pullman) sent by a U.S. pharmaceutical company to find the chemical mixture used in "zombification," the voodoo practice that renders victims apparently dead while still alive and conscious. Depending largely on hallucinations and psychological terror (as in Altered States), and working from a screenplay by Richard Maxwell and A.R. Simoun inspired by Wade Davis's nonfiction book of the same title, Craven is better with atmosphere and creepy ideas than with fluid story telling. But it's nice for a change to see some of the old-fashioned virtues of horror films--moody dream sequences, unsettling poetic images, and passages that suggest more than they show--rather than be splattered exclusively with shocks and special effects (the latter are far from absent, but a bit more economically employed than usual). Cathy Tyson, the prostitute in Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa, plays the hero's Haitian guide--a psychiatrist alert to some of the cultural ramifications of voodoo--and Zakes Mokae, Paul Winfield, and Brent Jennings, as other agents of the hero's dark education in prerevolutionary Haiti, are effective as well. (JR) (Music Box, 11:30)

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16
Satantango

How can I do justice here to a grungy seven-hour Hungarian black comedy that in many ways impresses me more than any other film I've seen this decade? Adapted by filmmaker Bela Tarr (Almanac of Fall, Damnation) and Laszlo Krasznahorkai from the latter's 1985 novel of the same title, this is a diabolical piece of sarcasm about the machinations, betrayals, and dreams of a failed farm collective over a few rainy fall days; two days are rendered more than once, from the perspectives of different characters. The form of both the novel and the film was inspired by the steps of the tango--six forward, six backward--an idea reflected in the overlapping time structure, the film's 12 sections, and many of its remarkably choreographed long takes and camera movements, which often suggest a despiritualized Tarkovsky with the hothouse intensity of a Cassavetes. If the story initially appears to be some statement about the collapse of communism, further reflection reveals that it has just as much to say about the degradations of capitalism; after all, as Tarr notes, the police--and human nature--are the same everywhere. The subject of this brilliantly constructed narrative is nothing less than the world today, and the 415-minute running time is needed not because Tarr has so much to say, but because he wants to say it right, and to make sure we understand it. The experience afforded is one to cherish. (JR) See also the longer review in this section; to be shown as a "critic's choice" of Jonathan Rosenbaum, who, along with Bela Tarr, will be present to discuss the film. Screened with two short intermissions. (Fine Arts, 11:00 am)

Love Hurts

See listing under Saturday, October 15. (Pipers Alley, 1:00)

The Fire This Time

See listing under Saturday, October 15. (Pipers Alley, 1:00)

Woyzeck

See listing under Saturday, October 15. (Music Box, 1:00)

Mary Poppins

While it doesn't have the soft-edged sense of wonder of the original books by Pamela Travers, Walt Disney's 1964 version of the Mary Poppins story does manage to avoid the usual saccharine excesses of Disney's live-action work. It goes without saying that the semianimated sequences work best--the chimney-sweeps number may be bastard Broadway (with the aimless athleticism rented from Michael Kidd), but the grace of the effects makes it some kind of classic. With Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke; directed by Robert Stevenson. (DK) (Fine Arts, 2:00)

The Silent Movie Lover

To say The Silent Movie Lover is a creepy film is to give it too much credit. It wants to be creepy. According to the director, Pablo Torre (son of the late great Argentinean director Leopoldo Torre Nilsson), it's not about silent movies but rather about being trapped in the silent world of exile. Yeah. Unfortunately the metaphor monopolizes the film, and the fake black-and-white silent footage that purports to bridge the worlds of past and present, reality and fantasy, flaunts mugged-up cardboard mockeries of the silent screen that are just a tad more meaningless and insipid than the color "story" that surrounds it. Whatever atmosphere the film manages to dredge up probably owes more to the unblinking gaze of its child protagonist than to any of its deliberate excesses of cinematic perversion: the boy's mother plays the piano in accompaniment to a tableau non-vivant of corpses laid out in a funeral parlor, while black-robed figures whisper as they pass through the background; the awful makeup of the silent movie idol is later parroted by the young boy, who takes his mother's place at a player piano after her death. (RS) (Pipers Alley, 3:00)

Back to Back, Face to Face

See listing under Friday, October 14. (Pipers Alley, 3:00)

Movie Days

See listing under Saturday, October 15. This screening is tentative; call for confirmation. (Music Box, 3:00)

The Year of the Dog

Winner of the Silver Bear at this year's Berlin film festival, veteran director Semyon Aranovich's The Year of the Dog provides a new post-Chernobyl twist on the old Russian theme of redemption. It features a pair of mismatched losers--a not-too-bright, not-too-young, not-too-pretty woman, living out her life in a workers' hostel, and a younger burned-out criminal just released from the slammer. She drags him to a concert, but it's definitely not his cup of tea, as he escapes from white-gloved oppression moments after the opening chords only to be driven back into the auditorium through the one opening he can find--the orchestra pit. Upon their flustered return he erupts into violence while defending her reputation, and the pair must flee the city. They find refuge in an idyllic farm community, inhabited only by a dog, a rooster, and a horse. The price for all this greenery and autonomy is intense exposure to radioactivity and threats from murderous smugglers of radioactive foodstuffs--but hey, nothing's for free. The Year of the Dog goes on a bit too long, and Inna Churkova's tour de force pathos-milking vulnerability begins to set the teeth on edge after a while. But Aranovich's peculiarly Dostoyevskian take on the now worldwide obsession with hardened killers, putting it in the context of unseen nuclear devastation, is definitely one for the books. (RS) (Pipers Alley, 5:00)

Death in Venice

Thomas Mann's novella about an aging composer fascinated with a young boy is given the most banal reading imaginable by Luchino Visconti, who flatly turns metaphors (such as homosexuality) into meanings and trumpets his reduction as if he'd made a profound discovery. Where Visconti's best films inhabit the narrow, dangerous space between high art and low camp, this one falls in the gap. With Dirk Bogarde, essaying his usual icon of decadence (1971). (DK) (Fine Arts, 5:00)

International Shorts III

Curated by festival staffer Brian Andreotti, this year's selection of short films has included several superb works, like Jo Shoop's Wanted and Stephan Puchner's Flood, that may be screened again in the October 21 Best Short Films program. Of the three shorts previewed in this evening of six, Austrian director Zipora Sichrovsky-Fried's Liberty stands out as an engaging ten-minute skit about an immobilized woman and her enabling suitor. Sichrovsky-Fried cleverly evokes expressionist silent cinema through gesture, shadow, and makeup. In Seven Days Under Mavis, Australian Anna Johnson re-creates a story lifted from a tabloid detailing the tribulations of an elderly man with a bad back named Frank, whose heavyset wife Mavis abruptly dies in his arms while he fastens her brassiere one morning. She topples over, pinning him beneath her on the bedroom floor for a week. Fluids ooze and flies visit, but all Frank can do is wait for help and hallucinate. Johnson seems ambivalent about pushing her gross premise anywhere daring. Dreaming of their long, lovely marriage, poor Frank is visited by visions of a younger Mavis and himself, which keep him company until the ambulance arrives. Kalamazoo is Claudia Silver's amateurish story of a young New York actress who deals with sneering theater types wearing "Will to Power" T-shirts and a boyfriend's Waspy mom who makes small talk by saying things like "Your hair is so . . . urban." Wallace Shawn plays her squirrelly shrink in this trite, breezy effort. At an off-off-Broadway rehearsal, a dashing bohemian actor pontificates, "Comedy, tragedy--what's the difference?" This bit of insider satire indicts Silver's own offhand, uncharming production. (Stamets) (Music Box, 5:00)

Paradjanov

For decades critic Ron Holloway has been a tireless champion of Eastern European cinema. In 1988 his perseverance was rewarded when Sergei Paradjanov, the brilliant Georgian-Armenian filmmaker, deemed Holloway the person to collaborate on a documentary about him. Paradjanov would hold forth in a multihour monologue, and Holloway would choose clips from the filmmaker's deliriously lyri- cal, folk-art-inspired, magic-carpet-ride mystical cinema. Paradjanov's oral autobiographical tour is riveting stuff. But there are gaps in the story, especially about his homosexuality, which supposedly triggered a ruthless sentence in a Brezhnev-era prison. Still, be content with this privileged visit with the man, who died of cancer in 1990. And savor the clips from Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors, The Color of Pomegranates, and other films by cinema's most ravishing colorist. (GP) (Pipers Alley, 6:00)

Handgun

Amid the tide of "hip" American movies about violence, Handgun strikes a welcome chord: that of humor. Served by a superb cast, including Cassavetes alumnus Seymour Cassel as a dying patriarch of crime and Treat Williams and Paul Schulze as his inept yet greedy sons, Handgun presents all the usual action-film scenes, from shoot-out to confrontation with sadistic mobsters, with a grain of salt, keeping the viewer on the edge of his or her seat. Director Whitney Ransick's talent is obvious, and one can only salute the emergence of a "new voice" in American cinema, but not without wondering: Do we need another violent movie to prove a young director's originality of vision? How many times should macho honor be "deconstructed" on-screen? Can Ransick really be criticizing machismo when women are virtually absent from this film? Or is he really making some kind of postmodern joke? With his intelligence, talent, wit, and gumption, Ransick should be able to surprise us with his next film rather than crank out an umpteenth variation on some formula. (BR) Texan, a short written by David Mamet and directed by Treat Williams, is also on the program.

(Music Box, 7:00)

Total Balalaika Show

See listing under Friday, October 14. (Pipers Alley, 7:30)

Talk

Two women spend a tumultuous day trying to sort out their relationships with men in this pleasant if not particularly inspired little film by Australian Susan Lambert. Stephanie and Julia are an unlikely pair of friends who collaborate on an adult comic book. Stephanie has just returned from a trip to Japan, where she had a brief fling with a married man, and is now pining for a more substantial relationship. Julia has recently discovered that her husband is having an affair and is obsessed with finding out who the other woman is. As both spend a day shopping and sharing their respective dilemmas, their desires are acted out in brief fantasy sequences in which the women become characters from their own comic book. Most of the film, however, revolves around their extended conversations, and how much you'll like the film depends largely on how interesting you find these two women. The conversation gets tiresome in spots, and the plot's not all that clearly developed, but for the most part I found this to be enjoyable and even sexy fluff. Also on the program is a New Zealand short called Stroke, directed by Christine Jeffs. (RP) (Fine Arts, 7:30)

Life's Too Good

See listing under Friday, October 14 (Pipers Alley, 8:00)

A Shadow You Soon Will Be

See listing under Saturday, October 15. (Fine Arts, 9:00)

Through the Olive Trees

The social status of filmmaking among ordinary people, central to Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's wonderful Close Up and And Life Goes On . . . , is equally operative here, in an entertaining sequel to the latter film. Through the Olive Trees concludes a trilogy started by Where Is My Friend's Home?, which focused on the adventures of a poor schoolboy in a mountainous region of Iran. And Life Goes On . . . , the second (and best) film in the trilogy, fictionally re-created Kiarostami's own return to the area with his son, looking for one of his former child actors just after an earthquake devastated the population. Through the Olive Trees is a comedy about the making of the second film, with most of the emphasis placed on the persistent efforts of a young mason and minor actor to woo a costar who won't even speak to him. For all its charm, visual beauty, and wisdom, this film is no less evasive than its predecessors in dealing with the oppression of Iranian women; in this case, the comic muteness of the heroine even has a certain dubious political expediency. But in other respects, this is a touching, tender, and very funny work about the vicissitudes of filmmaking. If you've never seen a Kiarostami film, this one--picked up by Miramax and the first to acquire U.S. distribution--provides an excellent introduction. (JR) (Music Box, 9:15)

Love and a .45

See listing under Saturday, October 15. (Fine Arts, 9:15)

Dallas Doll

See listing under Saturday, October 15. (Pipers Alley, 9:30)

The Golden Ball

See listing under Saturday, October 15. (Pipers Alley, 9:30)

MONDAY, OCTOBER 17
Family

See listing under Saturday, October 15. (Pipers Alley, 5:00)

Death in Venice

See listing under Sunday, October 16. (Pipers Alley, 5:00)

French Short Subjects

A program of eight short films from France: Didier Flamand's The Screw, Yvon Marciano's Emile Muller, Jean-Louis Milesi's It Happens in Ecuador, Remy Burkel's Ayrton the Bug, Kram and Plor's Foudamour--The Promised Moon, Laurence Maynard's The Mobius Strip, Philippe Robert and Jean-Claude Thibaut's The Wings of the Shadow, and Vincent Mayrand's Deus ex Machina. (JR) (Music Box, 5:00)

Conversation Piece

Luchino Visconti's controversial 1975 feature was hooted off the screen at that year's New York film festival, perhaps because of its frank homoeroticism, though many friends I respect insist it's one of the best of his late features. Burt Lancaster plays an aging professor who becomes involved with the entourage of a wealthy woman (Silvana Mangano), including her young lover (Helmut Berger in the "angel of death" part). It almost certainly warrants a look. (JR) (Fine Arts, 5:30)

Red

See listing under Friday, October 14. (Pipers Alley, 7:00)

The Tarnished Angels

Douglas Sirk took a vacation from Ross Hunter and Technicolor for this 1958 production, though he retained Rock Hudson, who here turns in an astonishingly good performance. Hudson is a journalist who finds himself fascinated by the sordid lives of a trio of professional stunt fliers--Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, and Jack Carson. Based on a minor novel by William Faulkner (Pylon), the film betters the book in every way, from the quality of characterization to the development of the dark, searing imagery. Made in black-and-white CinemaScope, the film doesn't survive on television; it should be seen in a theater or not at all. (DK) Selected as a "critic's choice" by New City film critic Ray Pride, who will be present to discuss the film. (Fine Arts, 7:00)

Romance de Valentia

See listing under Saturday, October 15. (Music Box, 7:15)

Motherland and Eternity

These two Australian documentary short features make interesting and thought-provoking use of both archival footage and dramatic reenactments, ultimately toward very different ends. In Motherland, director Kriv Stenders has but a pittance of actual home footage to thread through the story of his family's flight from Latvia during World War II. To compensate, and to maintain an intimate, personally told story that focuses on his grandmother, Greda, and her best friend, Irene, Stenders uses archival war footage that approximates his family's exodus, along with simulated home footage of their life in Australia (using a child actor to play himself). Although these reenactments are rendered "authentically" in the grainy, light-infused black and white typical of home footage from the 50s and 60s, they still raise the question: how is this different from the "dramatic re-creations" that are now standard fare on TV tabloid and newsmagazine shows? Lawrence Johnston's Eternity strives for a less personal tableau, telling the story of the quixotic Arthur Stace, a reformed drunkard who embraced Christianity mid-life and spent the early morning hours of every day for the next 40 years of his life (he died in 1967) writing the word "eternity" in elegant script on the streets of Sydney. As one of the interviewees in the film points out, Stace's unwavering diligence has allowed him to achieve a sort of eternity himself: a quarter century after his death he is still remembered and talked about by the denizens of Sydney and paid homage by its artists. Johnston also intersperses some simulated footage--primarily of Stace viewed from afar as a solitary figure walking the streets--but he is less reliant on it than Stenders, and it seems less intrusive. The film has a handsome noir look--it takes place principally at night, when Stace was most active--that owes at least a tip of the hat to the photographer Weegee. There is an ethereal, slightly eerie quality to this film; it strikes a fine balance between respecting Stace's strong religious convictions and maintaining a firmly secular perspective. A haunting, unusual documentary, not to be missed. (JK) (Pipers Alley, 7:30)

Borderline

A Greek feature directed by Panos Karkanevatos about two brothers in a small mining village; one of them joins the army and then becomes a deserter, while the other becomes a police officer and then an outlaw. To be shown with Arvo Blechstein's Cry of Earth, a short film from Germany. (JR) (Fine Arts, 8:00)

Heavenly Creatures

See listing under Saturday, October 15. (Pipers Alley, 9:00)

Talk

See listing under Sunday, October 16. (Fine Arts, 9:00)

The Seventh Continent

A powerful, provocative, and highly disturbing Austrian film by Michael Haneke that focuses on the collective suicide of a young and seemingly "normal" family. Prompted by Austria's high suicide rate and various news stories, the film's agenda is not immediately apparent; it focuses at first on the family's highly repetitive life-style, taking its time establishing the daily patterns of the characters. The roles of television and money in their lives are crucial to what this film is about, but the absence of any obvious motives for the family's ultimate despair is part of what gives this film its devastating impact. Its tact and intelligence--and also its reticence and detachment--make it a shocking and potent statement about our times. With Birgit Doll, Dieter Berner, Leni Tanzer, and Udo Samel (1989). (JR) (Pipers Alley, 9:15)

Tom and Viv

The troubled marriage of T.S. Eliot and his mentally ill wife, Vivian Haigh-Wood, is the subject of this film by English director Brian Gilbert. With Willem Dafoe and Miranda Richardson. (Music Box, 9:15)

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18
Conversation Piece

See listing under Monday, October 17. (Pipers Alley, 5:00)

Paradjanov

See listing under Sunday, October 16. (Pipers Alley, 5:00)

The Innocent

Not terribly well received when it first appeared, Luchino Visconti's last film (1979) strikes me as arguably the greatest of his late works apart from The Leopard: a withering autocritique of masculine vanity and self-delusion, adapted from a novel by Gabriele D'Annunzio, focusing on a well-to-do intellectual (Giancarlo Giannini) at the turn of the century struggling to justify his sexual double standards and his libertarian philosophy regarding his wife (Laura Antonelli) and his mistress (Jennifer O'Neill). Opulently mounted, dramatically understated, and keenly felt, this is a haunting testament, as well as one of Visconti's most erotic pictures. Incidentally, the elderly hand seen on-screen during the opening credits is Visconti's own. (JR) (Fine Arts, 6:00)

Through the Olive Trees

See listing under Sunday, October 16. (Fine Arts, 6:30)

The Mole

Much loved in Europe for nearly 40 years, the animated character "the Mole" is finally arriving in the U.S. A whimsical little critter, the genderless Mole is somewhat reminiscent of Walter Lantz's impish penguin Chilly Willy, sans the violence. The Mole's creator, Czech animator Zdenek Miler, originally set out to create a gentle yet plucky character who relies on innovative solutions to problems instead of the usual head-bashing high jinks that typify most cartoons for kids. While the quality of the animation doesn't have the sumptuousness of top-drawer Disney or Warner Brothers, it is a cut above Hanna-Barbera. Miler also makes interesting use of sound effects, including flutes for chirping birds and early synthesizer sounds for car engines. While its insistent cuteness may eventually grate on adults, kids will love it, and it's good for them, too. Included in this program will be the original 1957 cartoon, How the Mole Got Trousers, as well as The Mole and the Green Star and The Mole in Town. (JK) (Music Box, 7:00)

We, the Children of the 20th Century

Vitaly Kanevski's autobiographical features Freeze--Die--Come to Life (1990) and An Independent Life (1992) were harsh, impressionistic studies of the loss of individuality and social breakdown under Stalin's totalitarian regime, full of people desperately trying to retain some measure of dignity and hope. His new documentary concludes the loose trilogy; it's an emotionally devastating study of the social and cultural legacy of Stalin in the newly reconstituted Russian state. Set in a forlorn, depressed Saint Petersburg, the film is a gritty synthesis of The 400 Blows, A Clockwork Orange, and Pixote, tracking a new lost generation: the vast numbers of children who have been abandoned by their parents and resort to crime to survive. Moving between the streets and the increasingly crowded jails and youth homes, Kanevski finds youthful idealism corrupted by squalor and epic bravado. As journalism the film is questionable--Kanevski seems to have sought out only material that would reinforce his presuppositions--but as anthropology it's invaluable, though at times almost too painful to watch. Kanevski paints these kids' faces with his camera as they coolly recount their horrifying stories: a young woman says her mother sold her into prostitution for a bottle of vodka; a group of young toughs tell stories about their fathers, and one admits his humiliation at seeing his father get scalped. A young girl, her eyes dead, her mind blank, discusses the murder she committed. For Kanevski, a brilliant artist who was jailed for eight years for his political outspokenness, the personal and political intersect when he encounters Pavel Nazarov, the young actor who played him in the previous two features. Incarcerated for his role in a car-theft ring, Nazarov's descent into casual criminality is the breaking point for Kanevski. (PZM) (Pipers Alley, 7:15)

Handgun

See listing under Sunday, October 16. (Pipers Alley, 7:15)

The Year of the Dog

See listing under Sunday, October 16. (Fine Arts, 8:15)

The Silent Movie Lover

See listing under Sunday, October 16. (Fine Arts, 8:30)

Love and Human Remains

For separatist-minded Quebecois, Denys Arcand is a demi-dieu; no feature films have been so adored as his Montreal-set The Decline of the American Empire (1986) and Jesus of Montreal (1989). So what a betrayal when Arcand (a) made Love and Human Remains in English and (b) set it in the reviled English-language city of Toronto. Those who throve on the over-the-top spiritual quests of Arcand's greatest hits will be revolted by this film's pessimistic digging among a group of bisexual discosomethings, denizens of the Toronto night. On top of that there's a psycho killer loose in the city--yes, random American urban violence is moving northward. Avowed Arcandians aside, Love and Human Remains is worth seeing--witty, literate, with dark echoes of the round-the-clock murderous night of Rebel Without a Cause. (And there's a star performance by handsome American actor Thomas Gibson. Hollywood, check him out!) (GP) (Pipers Alley, 9:15)

French Short Subjects

See listing under Monday, October 17. (Music Box, 9:15)

Benny's Video

People seem divided about the second film (1992) in Michael Haneke's deadpan, low-key Austrian trilogy about affectless contemporary violence. Benny's Video comes after The Seventh Continent and before 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance; some consider it an essential document of our time, while others (myself included) regard it as a letdown after its predecessor--overly familiar in its themes, though still somewhat potent in its depiction of an alienated 14-year-old boy from a well-to-do family who's preoccupied with video technology and who winds up committing a monstrous act. In some ways, the portrait of his parents is even more chilling. (JR) (Pipers Alley, 9:30)

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19
Romance de Valentia

See listing under Saturday, October 15. (Pipers Alley, 5:00)

The Innocent

See listing under Tuesday, October 18. (Pipers Alley, 5:00)

We, the Children of the 20th Century

See listing under Tuesday, October 18. (Fine Arts, 5:00)

The Silent Movie Lover

See listing under Sunday, October 16. (Fine Arts, 5:00)

Student Shorts I

Six short films by American film students--Eva Ilona Brzeski, Chris Macgowan, Leslie McCleave, Daven Gee, Mark Yardas, and Debrah LeMattre. (JR) (Music Box, 5:00)

Joe and Marie

Marie is a teenage petty thief, Joe her law-abiding lover; both dream of becoming music stars. After Marie shoots a man during an abortive robbery, they run away from home and dream of leaving their coastal town by ship. A Swiss feature directed by Tania Stocklin. (JR) (Pipers Alley, 7:00)

When Pigs Fly

Sara Driver's three principal films to date are all surrealist works whose images tend to linger like half-remembered dreams. The ferocious You Are Not I (1982), adapted from a Paul Bowles story, unfolds inside the mind of a schizophrenic; the much gentler Sleepwalk (1986) is a dreamlike fairy tale set in lower Manhattan. The still gentler When Pigs Fly (1993)--set in an east-coast port town, though filmed in Gemany--is a whimsical ghost story inspired by Topper, and if the tone here seems light, the images, filmed by the great Robby Muller, nevertheless persist. The hero, beautifully played by Alfred Molina (Enchanted April), is a dysfunctional, sweet-tempered jazz musician subsisting mainly on the money he earns from giving music lessons and the companionship of a dog (whose jazz-inspired dreams, rendered by Driver in full, are as lyrical as the hero's). Some of the action takes place in a shabby Irish pub lorded over by Seymour Cassel, and when a barmaid gives Molina's character an old rocking chair, he inadvertently inherits a pair of ghosts (Marianne Faithfull and child actress Rachael Bella) along with it. Written by Driver and novelist-playwright Ray Dobbins, this is a sweet mood piece that like some English comedies is driven more by character than by plot; the music is mainly by Joe Strummer, but Faithfull also does a lovely rendition of "Danny Boy," and Driver works some wonders with Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso." (JR) (Fine Arts, 7:00)

Love and Human Remains

See listing under Tuesday, October 18. (Fine Arts, 7:00)

Dear Diary

Nanni Moretti is the most charmingly narcissistic of filmmakers. He's written, directed, and starred in all of his films--eight to date--which have made him well-known in Europe if not a household icon, something like the intellectual's Woody Allen. Dear Diary, which won him the best director prize at Cannes this year, is not only the most personal of his films but also the most seductive and self-assured. It's told in three episodes; the first accompanies Moretti "On My Vespa" as he tours Roman neighborhoods, musing about his love for the buildings and bridges, his unfulfilled dream of dancing as effortlessly as Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, and his impatience with movies and their critics (he goes to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer); the segment ends with a moving silent visit to the site of the murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini. Part two, "Islands," follows Moretti and his friend Gerardo through the Aeolian islands as they try to find the ideal combination of peace and quiet in which to work but discover in the process what they really need. In "Doctors," the final segment, in which we are assured, incredibly, that not a detail has been invented, we follow Moretti on an odyssey from doctor to doctor as he tries to get a diagnosis for a mysterious itch, tracking the amazing series of pills, ointments, lotions, creams, and treatments he endures before (happily) relief is found. He handles his ordeal with irony and tact. A thoughtful, delightful, appealing film. (MB) (Music Box, 7:00)

Erotic Tales I

Three stories of seduction, each about a half-hour long. Susan Seidelman's witty, highly original The Dutch Master is an object lesson in the power of art, doing the escapism of historical romance novels one better. A dental hygienist, on the eve of her marriage to a policeman, wanders into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and into a world--a group of young men and women in a painting by 17th-century artist Pieter de Hooch--that calls out for her to join in. It's not easy, but where there's a will . . . Wet is Bob Rafelson's disarmingly gentle tale of exploitation and voyeurism, as a young woman slips one over on the manager of a luxury bathroom fixtures shop who's desperate for a sale (it's been a long, dry season). Allowing the cautiously acquiescent salesman only the amount of fantasy he can comfortably handle as she "tries out" a top-of-the-line bathtub, the sexy customer redefines and tames the old male fears of being taken for a ride. A definite change of pace, Mani Kaul's The Cloud Door is a sensual dream poem about a nubile young woman immured in a palace and her beloved parrot that continuously spouts erotic verses in a singularly unerotic voice and, as resident deus ex machina, provides her with a suitably ragged but handsome lover. (RS) (Pipers Alley, 7:30)

71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance

Michael Haneke has won a small but hardy following with The Seventh Continent and Benny's Video, two films about sudden irrational outbreaks of violence in middle-class Vienna. The hallmark of both films is Haneke's clearheadedness; his style is precise, detailed, almost antiseptic. It matches the orderliness of the characters' lives; the audience has nowhere to hide once the relentlessly precise horrors get started. Haneke now has completed a third film about inexplicable bloodshed, 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance, which is, unfortunately, the weak link in his trilogy. This time the middle-class Austrian who snaps is a college student, who one day opens fire in the lobby of a bank and then kills himself. (An incident much like this happened in Vienna a few years ago.) But whereas Haneke's earlier films focused on families, so that the characters were caught up in a tense network of relationships, the student in this one floats freely, as if he were just one more atom in a beakerful of dilute angst. 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance is only too accurate a title. It's all just one damn thing after another, and at the end you're left not with an insight but an anecdote. (SK) (Pipers Alley, 9:00)

The Butterfly's Dream

There comes a time for most European directors when they feel compelled to make a slobbering tribute to youth. Marco Bellocchio, 56, renowned both for his 1966 Fists in the Pocket and his leftist politics, tells the tale of Massimo, a young actor so handsome, talented, and pure that he takes a vow of silence so as not to be tainted through contact with the hypocrisy and feeble humanity of individuals less perfect than himself. He uses his voice only to perform the classics onstage. Instead of slapping some sense into this insufferable prig, his family and friends fall to worshiping him for his godlike remoteness. After rejecting the advances of various smitten women, Massimo selects a beautiful earthy teenager to be his girlfriend; she instinctively understands his perfection and gives up her own powers of speech so as to be a better companion. Together they tour an idyllic countryside on his motorcycle, where the populace is frequently struck with awe by the radiant youthful beauty of the two. Oh please. (Scharres) (Fine Arts, 9:00)

Ten Monologues From the Lives of Serial Killers

A Dutch film in English by Ian Kerkhof that sounds like an experimental docudrama on the subject of serial killers. It will be shown with a short documentary from the U.S. by George Hickenlooper (Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse) on the same subject (though with only one measly serial killer in this case), Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade. (JR) (Fine Arts, 9:00)

Glitterbug

On one level Glitterbug, by Derek Jarman and Andy Crabb, can be enjoyed as a sensuous, beautiful, kinetic collage film that joins varied, intriguing images suggesting a life and times of drag contests, film shoots, fashion shows, rock concerts, and travels with friends. On another level, for those familiar with Jarman's previous films and his published diaries and other autobiographical writings, the film is clearly an illustrated memoir, virtually home movies of everything important to him: it covers his huge, drafty loft on the banks of the Thames and the design work he did for (among others) Ken Russell, goes behind the scenes on films such as Sebastiane and Jubilee and to early punk fashion shows with Vivienne Westwood, and ponders the luminous beauty of muse Tilda Swinton and plenty of the beautiful boys that were a leitmotiv of his life and art. And finally, Glitterbug is a memento mori, a last film (finished posthumously) that's the mirror image of his last completed film, Blue, which was simply a static blue screen with a dense sound track including many words, many voices; here we have many images (and never a dull moment) but no commentary, just a haunting Brian Eno score. Essential for the Jarmanist, but enjoyable on a plastic level even if the iconography is unfamiliar. (MB) To be shown with Ken McMullen's short There We Are, John, an interview with Jarman after a bout he suffered with pneumonia. (Music Box, 9:00)

Tom and Viv

See listing under Monday, October 17. (Pipers Alley, 9:30)

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20
Motherland and Eternity

See listing under Monday, October 17. (Pipers Alley, 5:00)

The Best of Intercom '94

A program of excerpts from independent and industrial videos, all winners in a festival-run competition: Will Vinton's clay animated Go Down Death, Ted Kay and Allen Secher's Holocaust documentary Choosing One's Way, Mark Pedersen's corporate sales video We'll Be Right Back, and Tom Gliserman's A Diversity Tale. Why extracts and not whole works are being shown is anyone's guess. (JR) (Music Box, 6:00)

When Pigs Fly

See listing under Wednesday, October 19. (Pipers Alley, 7:00)

Borderline

See listing under Monday, October 17. (Fine Arts, 7:00)

The Butterfly's Dream

See listing under Wednesday, October 19. (Fine Arts, 7:00)

Dear Diary

See listing under Wednesday, October 19. (Pipers Alley, 7:15)

TV Commercials

Two hours' worth of 30- and 60-second spots from around the world. (Music Box, 8:00)

71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance

See listing under Wednesday, October 19. (Pipers Alley, 9:00)

Erotic Tales II

Short narrative films by Ken Russell (The Insatiable Mrs. Kirsch), Paul Cox (Touch Me), and Melvin Van Peebles (Vroom Vroom Vroom), each about a half hour long. The only one I've seen is Russell's characteristically over-the-top sketch, which concerns a tourist's crazed erotic fantasies about a woman staying at his hotel--a good example of Russell's own puritanical hysteria enjoying a healthy laugh at its own expense. (JR) (Fine Arts, 9:00)

Glitterbug

See listing under Wednesday, October 19. (Pipers Alley, 9:15)

Joe and Marie

See listing under Wednesday, October 19. (Fine Arts, 9:15)

Ten Monologues From the Lives of Serial Killers

See listing under Wednesday, October 19. (Music Box, 9:45)

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Performing Arts
BigMouth Chicago Shakespeare Theater
September 18
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September 20

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