The 40th Chicago International Film Festival | Festival | Chicago Reader

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Friday, October 8

Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinematheque

Any documentary about the eccentric late cofounder of the Cinematheque Francaise is bound to be watchable, but Jacques Richard's lumpy 210-minute talking-headathon obfuscates as much as it clarifies. The factionalism in the French film world guarantees that Richard has to choose sides, but he fails to acknowledge this problem, picks the wrong side, favoring fans and bureaucrats over scholars (he fails even to mention Langlois' principal successor, Dominique Paini), and never owns up to his omissions. His choice of clips is unforgivably hackneyed, and such matters as Langlois' Turkish past (beautifully handled in Edgardo Cozarinsky's 1994 documentary Citizen Langlois) and his homosexuality are almost completely bypassed--making a passing allusion to his male lover at his funeral seem a non sequitur. In French with subtitles. (JR) aRiver East, 5:15 PM

Day and Night

Director Simon Staho's film, set almost entirely in an SUV, follows the vehicle's morose owner (Mikael Persbrandt) over the course of a day as he picks up various friends, family members, and strangers in an attempt to settle personal accounts before following through with his suicide plan. If this sounds familiar it's because Staho (who also cowrote the script) lifted the conceit straight from Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry. But where Kiarostami's film was a profound meditation on life, Staho's is a dark psychodrama, and an unredemptive one at one at that. It's compelling thanks to the exceptionally good performances, but it's hard to get past the unremitting bleakness. With Erland Josephson and Pernilla August. In Swedish with subtitles. 95 min. (RP) aRiver East, 6 PM

Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow

RGreek master filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos's latest opus, the first in a planned historical triptych that begins in 1919 Odessa and will end in present-day New York, marches out a stunning succession of set pieces. The camera travels around and through a village that springs full-blown from the interstices of the narrative, catching the activities of people and animals in frescoes of surpassing depth, such as a funeral procession of boats bearing black-clad villagers and black-dyed flags floating in formation down a river. Unfortunately, instead of the usual larger-than-life male figures--Marcello Mastroianni, Harvey Keitel, Bruno Ganz--of Angelopoulos's recent films, we get a distractingly vapid couple who tend to drain the emotional resonance of these extraordinary, ever-shifting tableaux. In Greek with subtitles. 178 min. (RS) aLandmark, 6:15 PM

I Like to Work (Mobbing)

R A single mother (Nicoletta Braschi of Life Is Beautiful) finds her job becoming a nightmare after her company merges with another and the new management, prohibited from laying her off, tries to make her quit. Dimly aware that she's being targeted but unable to put a face on her antagonist, she soldiers on as her job is repeatedly revised, becoming progressively more menial, stressful, and degrading. Her death by a thousand cuts is so excruciating that Italian writer-director Francesca Comencini must have felt obliged to tack on a happy ending, but this is still a shocking portrait of a business culture in which workers are expected to sell their dignity as well as their labor. In Italian with subtitles. 89 min. (JJ) aRiver East, 6:30 PM

Tomorrow We Move

R The mercurial Chantal Akerman returns to her antic mode with this heady genre mix of bedroom farce (without sex), musical (without songs), and screwball comedy (with screwballs aplenty). After the death of her husband, the charmingly ditzy Aurore Clement moves in with her chain-smoking, intellectual writer daughter (the incomparable Sylvie Testud). The erotically clueless Testud, surrounded by superfluous furniture, tries her hand at writing porn, while exasperated affection between mother and daughter hangs as thick in the air as the black smoke pouring from the household's dysfunctional vacuum cleaner. They decide to move, and soon their new duplex is invaded by crowds of plumbing-inspecting Parisian house hunters--ephemeral roommates who claim instantaneous intimacy with the two women in a dizzying choreography of entrances and exits. In French with subtitles. 111 min. (RS) aLandmark, 6:30 PM

The Wooden Camera

Two street kids in Cape Town, South Africa, find a video camera and a gun with a corpse thrown from a train. One takes the camera, the other the gun, using them to different ends in their neighborhood. Director Ntshavheni Wa Luruli is a former Spike Lee assistant. 90 min. Also on the program: Adrian Bosich's Marco Solo (9 min.). aLandmark, 7 PM

Being Julia

R Annette Bening puts her early theatrical training to good use in this glossy period piece (based on W. Somerset Maugham's novella "Theatre") about a capricious, spoiled stage diva who thrives on intrigue and adulation. When she needs more than she's getting from her husband (an excellent Jeremy Irons), handsome admirer (Bruce Greenwood), slavish producer (Miriam Margolyes), and long-suffering dresser (Juliet Stevenson, with a nod and a wink to Thelma Ritter in All About Eve), she takes a young American lover (Shaun Evans, the one weak link in a cast directed by Istvan Szabo). Once Julia, a consummate user, realizes she herself is being used, she sets into motion a sting that culminates where she's most at home: the stage. Witty, satisfying, and a terrific showcase for the radiant Bening. 105 min. (MB) aThorne, 7 PM

Story Undone

Unlike Hassan Yektapanah's debut, Djomeh (2000), a pastoral fable about patience and persistence, his tragicomic Story Undone, about a pretentious director and his cameraman trying to film a group of Iranian men and women in the act of illegally emigrating, is full of impatience and paranoia. A Silver Leopard winner at Venice, it combines two favorite Iranian topics--perilous border crossings and the process of moviemaking--as it questions the dividing line between narrative (the fictional director avidly capturing "human interest" stories) and documentary (initially the emigrants and their handlers wear identical masks to protect their anonymity). Yet despite fascinating mood shifts as the bumbling director alternates between buffoon, threat, and savior, the film never entirely shakes the gimmickry of its setup. In Farsi with subtitles. 84 min. (RS) aLandmark, 7:15 PM

Born Into Brothels

Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman's Born Into Brothels is both sustained and ultimately sunk by its lofty intentions. This HBO-sponsored documentary takes Briski's decision to teach photography to the children of poor Calcutta prostitutes as its departure point. Not every encounter with these bright and talented kids ends happily, but the filmmakers are trying much too hard to make an upbeat, crowd-pleasing film on an inherently grim subject. Briski's altruism is laudable, but it's hard not to feel alienated by her film's frequently self-congratulatory tone. In English and subtitled Bengali. 80 min. (RMP) aRiver East, 8:15 PM

Summer in the Golden Valley

Yet another entry in the "worst place in the world" competition, from first-time director Srdjan Vuletic, though the unofficial arbiter for this sort of thing, Lars von Trier, probably won't be impressed. The candidate here is war-ravaged Sarajevo, nestled in Bosnia's "golden valley," where aspiring nasty boy Fikret (Haris Sijaric) laments his lot amid the local devastation. Trying to raise money to pay off a debt so his father can be buried according to Muslim rites, he gets involved with a rapper friend in a kidnapping scam engineered by a pair of corrupt cops--which of course he bungles because, as the flint-hearted rich-girl victim puts it, he's "just too good" (or maybe she means feckless) for this scuzzy town. One part Alan Clarke and four parts TV cop show pretty well sums it up, though oddly enough the city itself (white minarets, pretty blue tram, a panoply of new construction) looks fairly inviting. Somebody get out the Frommer's. In Serbo-Croatian with subtitles. 104 min. (PG) aRiver East, 8:45 PM

Why (Not) Brazil?

Truth and fiction form a deliberately uneasy mix in Laetitia Masson's pseudodocumentary account of her struggle to adapt a memoir written by friend and real-life French author Christine Angot. The film-within-a-film structure features Elsa Zylberstein playing the dual roles of Masson and Angot, whose personal lives increasingly mirror each other until it becomes impossible to tell whose story is being told. Interviews with the memoir's actual subjects are interspersed throughout, creating even greater ambiguity. Though Masson artfully navigates the tricky narrative transitions, the film's focus on weighty personal issues makes it play like a dour and ponderous French version of Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation. Alain Sarde and Daniel Auteuil appear in cameos as themselves. In French with subtitles. 92 min. (RP) aLandmark, 9 PM

Tarnation

RJonathan Caouette started photographing and filming himself when he was 11 during a chaotic childhood under the transient care of an electroshocked, intermittently institutionalized mom, numerous foster parents (some abusive), and his clueless grandparents. Drawing from home movies, answering-machine messages, and movie clips, Caouette famously put together this film for about $200 using iMovie, Apple's rudimentary DV editing program. But it's something of a masterpiece: a confessional experimental documentary with echoes, both conscious and unconscious, of filmmakers from Andy Warhol to John Cassavetes, Stan Brakhage to David Lynch. Gus Van Sant and John Cameron Mitchell signed on as executive producers after seeing a rough cut of the film. 105 min. (MB) aLandmark, 9:15 PM

Huff

A Showtime pilot starring Hank Azaria as a psychiatrist who goes home in a state of crisis after a longtime patient commits suicide. Others in the cast include Oliver Platt and Blythe Danner. Admission is free. 50 min. aRiver East, 9:30 PM

Tropical Malady

R The third work and second narrative feature of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Blissfully Yours), the prodigiously gifted Thai filmmaker who studied painting and filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute--a spellbinding, beautiful, enigmatic film with a mysterious, allusive two-part structure. The first section tracks the hesitant, playful relationship between a shy provincial ice cream truck driver (Sakda Kaewbuadee) and a dashing soldier (Banlop Lomnoi); the astonishing second section is set deep in the Thai jungle and includes an abstract, wordless pursuit of a ghost tiger. The two parts are linked by lyrical compositions and an almost painful sense of longing and regret. Viewers open to a new way of imagining film are sure to be enthralled by this singular young voice. Tropical Malady won a special jury prize at Cannes. In Thai with subtitles. 118 min. (PZM) aLandmark, 9:30 PM

The Harvest Time

Winner of the first prize at the Moscow film festival, Marina Razbezhkina's Russian feature chronicles the trials and pleasures of a family living on a collective farm in the 1950s. In Russian with subtitles. 68 min. Also on the program: Rudiger Daniel's Filmpioneers (4 min.). aLandmark, 9:45 PM

The Machinist

Talk about Method acting: Christian Bale (American Psycho) dropped over 60 pounds to play the title role in this psychological mystery directed by Brad Anderson (Next Stop Wonderland). By day Bale's emaciated loner operates heavy machinery, by night he finds solace with a call girl (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and in between he courts a single mom (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon)--he's got the time because he literally doesn't sleep. The color scheme of cool blues and grays accentuates the bleakness of the industrial landscape and the protagonist's increasing isolation and pallor, and the theremin on the sound track provides an otherworldly touch. Until now Bale's screen persona has been defined by a graceful athleticism; here his physicality is repellent, yet he carries the occasionally creaky plot of Scott Kosar's unsettling screenplay to a resonant finish. 102 min. (AG) aLandmark, 11:30 PM

Saturday, October 9

Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinematheque

See listing under Friday, October 8. aRiver East, 1 PM

Why (Not) Brazil?

See listing under Friday, October 8. aLandmark, 2 PM

Summer in the Golden Valley

See listing under Friday, October 8. aRiver East, 2:15 PM

The Harvest Time

See listing under Friday, October 8. aLandmark, 2:15 PM

The Nomi Song

R Clips from the sci-fi classic It Came From Outer Space bookend this affectionate remembrance of the late Klaus Nomi, who with unusual talent and an alien's sense of dislocation fashioned an androgynous persona that seemed out of this world. The gay German emigre rose to prominence in New York's avant-garde club scene in the 70s, wowing audiences with his falsetto delivery of opera and pop tunes. Considering that every image of Klaus is decades old, it's remarkable how well the film illustrates his creative process; in one scene we see him contemplating a photo of Marlene Dietrich and adopting a costume, then performing a cover of "Falling in Love Again" that fuses cabaret, techno-pop, and a dash of punk. Contemporary interviews with his friends and associates are notable for their candor. Andrew Horn, writer of East Side Story, directs, stylishly. 96 min. (AG) aLandmark, 2:30 PM

Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow

R See listing under Friday, October 8. aLandmark, 2:45 PM

Story Undone

See listing under Friday, October 8. aLandmark, 4:15 PM

Checkpoint

This documentary by Yoav Shamir is a cinema verite exploration of the confrontations between soldiers and ordinary Palestinians who have to pass through Israeli checkpoints. Remarkably, his depiction of the indignities suffered by the Palestinians is untainted by rhetorical excess or heavy-handed editorializing. He lets the scenes of Palestinians in need of medical care or en route to jobs or relatives' homes, only to be taunted by bored, badly trained soldiers, speak for themselves--reminding us that it's possible to both abhor the continuing suicide bombings and feel morally outraged by a government that insists on treating all Palestinians as potential terrorists. In subtitled Hebrew and Arabic, as well as English. 80 min. (RMP) aRiver East, 4:30 PM

The Souvenirs of Mr. X

The subjects of this whimsical documentary share a peculiar kind of innocence: members of an Austrian amateur filmmakers' club, they spend much of their lives making what could loosely be called home movies. A flea-market find of old Super-8 reels shot by an unidentified enthusiast inspired writer-director Arash T. Riahi to investigate the mind-set of those who film not for money or fame but out of sheer love for the medium. The unquestioned star of the group is Walter Spindler, an elderly dynamo attuned to the cinematic possibilities of any event, be it the antics of his daughters or the departure of his fed up wife. In German with subtitles. 98 minutes. (AG) aLandmark, 4:30 PM

I Like to Work (Mobbing)

RSee listing under Friday, October 8. aRiver East, 4:45 PM

Tomorrow We Move

R See listing under Friday, October 8. aLandmark, 4:45 PM

Boricua

R Any novice director could benefit from studying Marisol Torres's gorgeously shot, well-acted film, whose large cast of characters gives us a window into the Puerto Rican community in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. A young man's ethics are tested when he gets a job buying up local homes for "redevelopment." A hairdresser will stop at nothing to be queen of the Puerto Rican Day parade. A macho drug dealer starts a romance with a college girl who won't put up with his sexist posturing. Torres has a sharp eye for location and knows how to reveal the drama of a scene without a lot of directorial grandstanding. In English and subtitled Spanish. 102 min. (HSa) aThorne, 5 PM

Shorts 1: Homegrown

Directors based in Chicago and Illinois made the eight narrative or documentary works on this 108-minute program: Youngok Kim, Greg Samata, Seth Henrikson, Gail Gilbert and Lisa von Drehle, Mark Mamalakis, Yasmina Cadiz, Ai Lene Chor, and Karen Friedberg. aRiver East, 5:15 PM

Notre musique

R For one of the first times in his career Jean-Luc Godard has elected not to hector and harass his audience, and it seems to have paid off: I've yet to encounter any hostile critical response to this feature, a mellow and meditative reflection on the ravages of war. Set in Sarajevo and structured in three parts after Dante's Divine Comedy, this beautiful film centers on a young French-Jewish journalist based in Israel who's attending the same literary conference as Godard himself. The wars it contemplates through a montage of documentary and archival footage include those waged in Algeria, Vietnam, Bosnia, and the Middle East, and Native American victims appear alongside certain others in Sarajevo. 80 min. In French with subtitles. (JR) aLandmark, 6:30 PM

Love in Thoughts

Based on a true story, Achim von Borries's period piece recounts the friendship between two prep school classmates: Paul, a sensitive poet from a modest background, and Gunther, a reckless homosexual from a wealthy family. Invited by Gunther to his family's summerhouse, Paul falls for his bewitching sister Hilde. They start a flirtation, but Hilde is already involved with Hans, Gunther's ex-lover. Sharing some rather jejune notions regarding things of an amorous nature, Paul and Gunther form a suicide club, pledging to kill themselves if they experience love and then lose it. Von Borries obviously feels there's something profound about his sensitive young characters, but faced with their dull narcissism it's unlikely anyone else will. With Daniel Bruhl, August Diehl, and Anna Maria Muhe. In German with subtitles. 90 min. (JK) aRiver East, 6:45 PM

The Father

An early film (1967) by Hungarian director Istvan Szabo (Mephisto, Being Julia). A boy invents a heroic fantasy about his father, killed at the end of World War II; reaching adulthood during the 1956 uprising, he becomes romantically involved with a Jewish refugee and resolves to find out who his father really was. In Hungarian with subtitles. 95 min. Szabo will attend the screening. aLandmark, 6:45 PM

Apres vous

Talented actors Daniel Auteuil and Jose Garcia (Whatever) make the best of some pretty thin material in this French farce. Affable maitre d' Auteuil stops sad sack Garcia from hanging himself, then feels weirdly obligated to help the man regain his desire to live, going so far as to get him a job at the restaurant and track down his former girlfriend in hopes of reuniting them. The ensuing jokes about Garcia's suicidal tendencies and Auteuil's willingness to ruin his life to help another are reasonably entertaining but predictable--after a while you just want to smack some sense into both of them. In French with subtitles. 110 min. (HSa) aRiver East, 7 PM

Bitter Dream

R First-time Iranian director Mohsen Amiryoussefi's deliciously sly black comedy casts its actors from real life--the actual grave digger, clothes burner, and female body washer of the Sedeh cemetery all play themselves, as does its star, Esfandiar, the elderly cadaver preparer and de facto boss of the graveyard shift. The fictional story line finds Esfandiar sensing that the angel of death is stalking him, and in marvelously understated scenes of social cluelessness, he attempts to make amends to the workers he's spied on and belittled for years. Retreating to the isolation of his house, where he's wont to watch documentaries on the funeral rites of other cultures, he eerily begins to see his own life, instantly replayed or surreally fast-forwarded, on the black-and-white TV set before him. In Farsi with subtitles. 87 min. (RS) aLandmark, 7 PM

McDull, Prince de la Bun

R This sequel to the animated feature My Life as McDull takes the cute but dumb preschool piglet on a quest for his vanished father, McBing (voiced by Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau). Alice Mak, Brian Tse, and Toe Yuen have pushed their popular characters into a world of childlike whimsy, riotous dadaist invention, existential terror, and anguished regret. Dazzling images of a city under deconstruction collide with exquisite passages of pastoral beauty in extended fantasies structured around pieces by Mahler, Mozart, and Bach. A masterpiece hides inside this definitely not-for-kids rumination on a present suspended between an irretrievable past and an unknowable future. In subtitled Cantonese and Mandarin, as well as English. 77 min. (SK) Also on the program: Anna Erlandsson's Glenn, the Great Runner (3 min.). aLandmark, 7:30 PM

House

A made-for-TV drama directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects) and starring Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House, an infectious-disease specialist. The cast also includes Lisa Edelstein, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard, and Jennifer Morrison. Admission is free. 50 min. aRiver East, 8 PM

Nobody Knows

R Four young siblings, abandoned by their mother, live on their own for months in a tiny Tokyo apartment, their presence unknown to the outside world. Based on a true story and shot over a year, this near masterpiece from writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Maborosi, After Life) doesn't depict the kids' plight strictly as a living hell: we see the trash piling up and faces getting dirtier, but the film also shows the joyful potential of a world without parents or teachers. Yuya Yagira, winner of the best actor award at Cannes this year, is superb as the protective eldest child; he and his other nonprofessional costars are quietly heartbreaking. In Japanese with subtitles. 141 min. (JH) aLandmark, 8:30 PM

Around the Bend

This debut feature by writer-director Jordan Roberts was developed at the Sundance Institute, and when people talk about a "Sundance film," this is what they mean: a thoughtfully written, modestly budgeted actors' piece with a thick streak of Americana. A retired archaeologist (Michael Caine) passes away at a KFC, leaving behind elaborate instructions for the disposal of his ashes at KFCs across the southwest. The ensuing odyssey forces his aging son (Christopher Walken), a longtime junkie and criminal, to make peace with his own grown son (Josh Lucas) and the young man's buoyant seven-year-old (Jonah Bobo). Roberts never surmounts the cracker-barrel contrivance of the plot, but his low-key humor, clear affection for the characters, and strong cast are enough to put this gentle drama across. R, 85 min. (JJ) aThorne, 8:30 PM

Day and Night

See listing under Friday, October 8. aRiver East, 9 PM

The Spectator

Flavia is perfect, Massimo is perfect, Valeria is perfect too--except for her stalking Massimo, though always reticently and only in the best of taste. Ditto their appointments: the spaces they inhabit or travel to (Turin, Rome, Viterbo, Trieste), what they eat and how they dress, what they do professionally with their lives--Flavia's a law prof, Valeria a multilingual translator, Massimo a bacterial researcher with strong, nay powerful, ethical commitments. Is there nothing in these perfect, albeit stultifying, lives--aside from Valeria's tasteful stalking, the occasional twinge for a dead husband, a dearly departed pet--that can send the blood racing, make the soul giddy with horror or delight? Certainly not! Director Paolo Franchi has technique to burn--it's fascinating to watch these fragile wisps of characters have their feelings translated into impeccable rack-focus imagery--but it's more finishing-school reflex than vision, an eye that imposes rather than reveals. In Italian with subtitles. 98 min. (PG) aLandmark, 9 PM

Circle of Deceit

A distressingly slick 1981 feature by Volker Schlondorff (The Tin Drum), filmed in the smoking rubble of the Lebanese civil war with an attention to elegant composition and camera movement that seems more appropriate to a big studio musical. The irrational conflict then shattering Beirut registers with a texture and immediacy far beyond the power of the television images we're accustomed to, yet Schlondorff uses the war as an abstracting, metaphorical device--as a projection of the inner turmoil of his protagonist (Bruno Ganz), a German reporter in midlife crisis. Hanna Schygulla, away from Fassbinder here, proves to be a sharp, womanly presence--a Barbara Stanwyck for the 80s. And there is a nice bit by French character actor Jean Carmet, who plays a tawdry war profiteer as a figure out of Graham Greene. In subtitled French and German, as well as English. 108 min. (DK) aLandmark, 9:15 PM

Up Against Them All

At the center of this claustrophobic, hyperrealist domestic drama--chock-full of murder, mayhem, adultery, hypocrisy, and lower-class sleaze--is that popular late-20th-century hero, the hit man. A recent convert to religion, he preaches morality at home and matter-of-factly wipes out whole families on the job. Meanwhile his young blond bombshell of a wife is boffing the butcher's son, his slutty punk teenage daughter is playing around with his partner in crime, and he's proposing marriage to his churchgoing mistress. In this debut film by Roberto Moreira, produced by Fernando Meirelles, the director of City of God, one-note irony tends to equate poverty with promiscuity and class with taste, and all the overblown decor can't make up for the lack of style. In Portuguese with subtitles. 96 min. (RS) aRiver East, 9:30 PM

Right Now

R In Benoit Jacquot's excellent Sade (2000), lissome French ingenue Isild Le Besco gave a seductive performance as a teenage girl corrupted by the legendary marquis. This absorbing thriller by Jacquot casts her in a similar role, as a comfortable Parisian art student who falls for a handsome Moroccan criminal (Ouassini Embarek) and impulsively follows him into hiding after a bungled bank robbery. Shot in wide-screen, low-grain black and white, this sleek suspense narrative quietly unpacks the delusions and emotional hunger of its upper-class heroine: her love for the confused hood matures and deepens once they're on the run together, but her naive excitement fades as life underground grows increasingly drab, sordid, and lonely. In French with subtitles. 95 min. (JJ) aRiver East, 9:30 PM

Nelly

A physician's wife (Sophie Marceau) returns home from a day at the beach with her children and finds her husband dead from "natural causes." She's soon confronted by a series of increasingly absurd situations involving her in-laws, the death-certification process, and the proper removal of her husband's body. This could easily have been played as farce--the festival's program inaccurately describes it as a wacky black comedy--and there certainly are touches of wry humor. But director Laure Duthilleul's approach is subtle and refreshingly ambiguous. The wife's true feelings about her marriage and complicated relationship with her husband's family are revealed only gradually, and the film gracefully reflects the ephemeral nature of her inner struggles. In French with subtitles. 94 min. (RP) aLandmark, 9:30 PM

Journey Into Bliss

This luridly perverse romp by Wenzel Storch has been likened to Peter Jackson's early work, and there are some valid points of comparison, including lots of puke, fake blood, and gooey body parts as well as intricate sets (courtesy of set designers Christine Schulz and Matthias Hanisch) that are equal parts Buck Rogers and Vegas whorehouse. But even Jackson's earliest films contained a cohesive vision and narrative drive; Storch has opted for a much more scattershot approach, creating a loopy, quasi-sci-fi mess that has something to do with a life-and-death rivalry among childhood friends, fetishism of all stripes, and time travel. If asked what this film is really about, I'd be hard-pressed to answer. In German with subtitles. 73 min. (JK) aLandmark, 11:30 PM

Sunday, October 10

Shorts 2: Where You Stand

Nine films that examine "the great effect that where you are can have on who you are," by Joel Fendelman, Kerry Weldon, Nancy Montuori Stein, Jason Tammemagi, Victor Quinaz, Victor Lopez, Anthony Byrne, Rupert Wyatt, and Sean Ellis. 116 min. aRiver East, 1 PM

Journey Into Bliss

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 1 PM

Huff

See listing under Friday, October 8. aRiver East, 1:15 PM

Bitter Dream

R See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 1:15 PM

Apres vous

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aRiver East, 1:30 PM

The Souvenirs of Mr. X

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 1:30 PM

Aaltra

Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern's Belgian comedy in black-and-white 'Scope follows a couple of feuding farmers who wind up paralyzed in wheelchairs after being run over by a tractor and who travel together to Helsinki to confront the company that built the tractor. I saw this alleged crowd-pleaser about eight months ago and barely remember it. In French, German, and Finnish with subtitles. 90 min. (JR) aLandmark, 2 PM

The Harvest Time

See listing under Friday, October 8. aThorne, 2 PM

Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow

R See listing under Friday, October 8. aLandmark, 2:45 PM

The Spectator

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 3:15 PM

Day and Night

See listing under Friday, October 8. aRiver East, 3:30 PM

Boricua

R See listing under Saturday, October 9. aRiver East,

3:45 PM

The Nomi Song

R See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark,

3:45 PM

Right Now

R See listing under Saturday, October 9. aRiver East, 4 PM

Nelly

See listing under Saturday, October 9. (Landmark, 4 PM)

Outing Riley

In his second feature Chicagoan Pete Jones (Project Greenlight) charts the comic complications that ensue when a Catholic man tries to come out after the death of his parents, only to have some of his siblings refuse to believe he's gay. The cast includes Michael McDonald (Mad TV) and Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm). A world premiere. 89 min. aThorne, 4:30 PM

Tropical Malady

RSee listing under Friday, October 8. aLandmark, 5:30 PM

Checkpoint

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aRiver East, 5:45 PM

The Woodsman

R Kevin Bacon plays the showcase title role, a tight-lipped convicted pedophile trying to start over after a 12-year prison sentence. His new job in a lumberyard leads to a tentative romance with a coworker (Kyra Sedgwick), but his apartment overlooks a school playground--not a good omen for a child molester's recovery. He's plagued by a nosy cop, a vengeful secretary, and his estranged sister--but mostly by his own furtive desires as they coalesce around a lonely preteen (Hannah Pilkes) he spots on the bus and follows. Bacon conveys the weight of his character's anguished struggles through his economy of movement, and the powerful, spare script (adapted by director Nicole Kassell and Steven Fechter from the latter's play) is refreshingly devoid of cant. Mos Def, Eve, David Alan Grier, and Benjamin Bratt give fine support. 88 min. (AG) aRiver East, 6 PM

Up Against Them All

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 6 PM

Love in Thoughts

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aRiver East, 6:15 PM

Les choristes

This Gallic take on the feel-good chestnut about the inspirational power of music follows a nebbishy new housemaster at a strict school for troubled youth, ominously named Bottom of the Pond. The success of the timid yet musically subversive teacher is assured from the outset, since the film's 40-years-later wraparound establishes that one of his pupils will become a world-renowned maestro--allowing the audience to relax and enjoy the inevitable victory of humor and harmony over rigidity and repression. The excellent cast in Christophe Barratier's loose remake of a 1945 Jean Dreville film ensures that the predictable, nostalgic ride remains enjoyable throughout. Unsurprisingly, this rosy debut film has been picked up by Miramax. In French with subtitles. 95 min. (RS) aLandmark, 6:15 PM

Story Undone

See listing under Friday, October 8. aLandmark, 6:30 PM

Who's That Knocking at My Door?

R Martin Scorsese shot his debut feature (1968) in black and white while teaching at New York University, and though the story peters out before the end, the director's kinetic visual style is already sharply defined. A hood from Little Italy (Harvey Keitel in his first film) starts courting a reserved and educated woman (Zina Bethune), but his quiet, reflective hours with her are overwhelmed by his Catholic sexual hang-ups and violent friends (including Lennard Kuras in a fine turn as a bellyaching loan shark). Already working with editor Thelma Schoonmaker, Scorsese fluidly integrates vintage rock 'n' roll and R & B tracks with his flamboyant camera movement and dramatic cutting, making this an especially funky introduction to his religious themes. 90 min. (JJ) Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert will introduce the film, which debuted at the Chicago festival in 1967 as I Call First prior to the insertion of a nude scene. aThorne, 7 PM

Tomorrow We Move

R See listing under Friday, October 8. aRiver East, 8 PM

Nobody Knows

R See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 8 PM

Lipstick & Dynamite, Piss & Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling

Ruth Leitman, who teaches at the School of the Art Institute, directed this documentary about women wrestlers of the 1940s and '50s, focusing on how they coped with the gender issues of their profession and their era and what they're doing today. aRiver East, 8:15 PM

The Machinist

See listing under Friday, October 8. aRiver East, 8:30 PM

The Pleasure Is All Mine

This sex farce, about a woman who improbably loses her clitoris, has several laugh-out-loud moments in the first half, then starts running out of ideas. Louise, a radio talk-show personality, is in a mostly physical relationship with Francois, a public defender. The sex is good until one day she goes numb in her nether region. Panicked, she dumps Francois and starts consulting a bevy of specialists, among them a "sexologist" who performs remedial cunnilingus and an African shaman who prescribes herbs. Writer-director Isabelle Broue mixes brio and irreverence with a caustic look at how clueless some men are when it comes to pleasuring women. With Marie Gillain and Julien Boisselier. 81 min. In French with subtitles. (JK) aLandmark, 8:30 PM

I Like to Work (Mobbing)

RSee listing under Friday, October 8. aLandmark, 8:30 PM

Bear Cub

R A warm, wholesome, and unabashedly homoerotic film about a gay dentist who makes a home for his orphaned nephew, Miguel Albaladejo's Bear Cub casually pulls off an amazing feat--combining innocent childhood nostalgia and graphic sexuality. This is at once an amusing, almost sentimental family drama in which a man finds his life changed by parenthood and a sexually explicit portrait of a friendly, promiscuous group of gruff, stocky, hirsute gay men. Thoroughly likable, it never resorts to sentimental cliches or moralistic epiphanies: the hero refuses a Parisian boyfriend's offer to form a two-daddies nuclear family, managing to both assume parental responsibility and preserve his freedom. In Spanish with subtitles. 99 min. (RS) Also on the program: Lasse Persson's Bikiki (7 min.). aLandmark, 8:45 PM

Monday, October 11

Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinematheque

See listing under Friday, October 8. aRiver East, 2 PM

Chicago Youth Media Festival

A free program of award-winning narrative, documentary, and animated shorts by local kids, billed as a preview of the Cinema/Chicago's Youth Media Festival to be held next May. aRiver East, 3:30 PM

Bear Cub

R See listing under Sunday, October 10. aLandmark, 4:30 PM

The Pleasure Is All Mine

See listing under Sunday, October 10. aLandmark, 5 PM

Born Into Brothels

See listing under Friday, October 8. aRiver East, 6 PM

Boricua

R See listing under Saturday, October 9. aRiver East,

6:15 PM

Right Now

RSee listing under Saturday, October 9. aRiver East,

6:30 PM

The Wooden Camera

See listing under Friday, October 8. aLandmark, 6:45 PM

McDull, Prince de la Bun

R See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark,

6:45 PM

Nelly

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 7 PM

Bitter Dream

R See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark,

7:15 PM

The Woodsman

R See listing under Sunday, October 10. aRiver East, 8:15 PM

Checkpoint

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aRiver East, 8:45 PM

Stray Dogs

R Marziyeh Meshkini's second feature (after The Day I Became a Woman) is an Iranian post-neorealist fable about homeless children in Afghanistan. A woman who remarried years after her first husband disappeared is charged with adultery and jailed when he returns. At first her two young children are allowed to sleep with her at night, but when they're kicked out they become street kids, barely scraping by in the postwar moonscape of suburban Kabul. Gol Ghoti, played by an actual seven-year-old street girl, has the face of an angel and the fierce survival instincts of the wild dogs she and her brother share the streets with. Meshkini somehow succeeds in combining fervent social critique and mythic surrealism, and the results are both astonishing and deeply moving. In Farsi and Dari with subtitles. 93 min. (SK) aLandmark, 8:45 PM

Shorts 1: Homegrown

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aRiver East, 9 PM

Summer in the Golden Valley

See listing under Friday, October 8. aLandmark, 9 PM

The Nomi Song

RSee listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark,

9:15 PM

Journey Into Bliss

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 9:30 PM

Tuesday, October 12

Shorts 1: Homegrown

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aRiver East, 4:15 PM

The Wooden Camera

See listing under Friday, October 8. aLandmark, 4:30 PM

Stray Dogs

R See listing under Monday, October 11. aLandmark,

4:45 PM

The Pleasure Is All Mine

See listing under Sunday, October 10. aRiver East, 6:15 PM

Lost Embrace

Ariel, the twentysomething hero of this intensely felt film, seems caught in perpetual adolescence--still working at his mother's lingerie shop in a Buenos Aires shopping arcade, still resenting the father who abandoned them years ago to fight for Israel. Ariel dreams of running away to Europe, and when he tries to get a passport he uncovers family secrets. Argentinean writer-director Daniel Burman uses a shaky handheld camera and voice-over narration to take us inside Ariel's head, which gets a bit exhausting, even in the more emotionally satisfying second half. In Spanish with subtitles. 100 min. (HSa) aRiver East, 6:30 PM

The Taste of Tea

Katsuhito Ishii, who put together the animated sequence for Kill Bill Vol. 1, directed this live-action comedy-fantasy, with many special effects, about an eccentric family living in a small mountain village outside Tokyo. In Japanese with subtitles. 143 min. aLandmark, 6:30 PM

Apres vous

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 6:45 PM

Undertow

R In all three of his features to date--George Washington, All the Real Girls, and now Undertow--David Gordon Green, who's still under 30, brings a poetic sensibility to portraits of working-class southerners in which storytelling generally plays second fiddle to character and ambience. This time he's experimenting with a fairy-tale thriller that only superficially resembles the work of Terrence Malick (the film's coproducer) and The Night of the Hunter (two kids flee across the wilderness from a murderous adult), two references frequently cited by critics. To these one might add Huckleberry Finn--but the absence of any clearly defined place or period makes Undertow more fanciful than any of them. Despite a few narrative confusions, I found it pure magic. 107 min. (JR) aLandmark, 6:45 PM

Battles Without Honor and Humanity

R Kinji Fukasaku is sometimes called Japan's Sam Peckinpah for the extravagant bloodletting in his films, but a more appropriate comparison would be Samuel Fuller. Like Fuller, Fukasaku worked in a variety of genres, cranking out uniquely stylized B pictures that often contained biting social criticism. Fukasaku reached a career high in Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973-'74), a five-part yakuza epic chronicling the 20-year rise and fall of a Hiroshima crime family. The first episode (which is being screened as a promotional tie-in with the release of the entire series on DVD) opens in 1946 as Hiroshima's postwar chaos gives rise to a bewildering array of criminal gangs fighting for a piece of the city's economic action--a wild struggle captured in all its backstabbing glory by Fukasaku's frenetic handheld camerawork and editing style. The terrific Bunta Sugawara stars as the film's stoic antihero. In Japanese with subtitles. 99 min. (RP) aRiver East, 7 PM

Blue Collar White Christmas

A documentary about a lifeboat factory in a small town in Denmark that opens a new factory in Bangkok and the Danish workers who fear they'll lose their jobs by Christmas. Max Kestner directed. In Danish with subtitles. 81 min. aLandmark, 7 PM

Quiet as a Mouse

Actor-turned-director Marcus Mittermeier's zero-budget, anal-retentive parable revolves around Mux, a mild-mannered vigilante whose goal is to ensure that his fellow humans behave in a responsible manner. This gun-toting, civic-minded crusader administers punishments to fit the crimes, initially working solo but soon seconded by a foodaholic deadbeat whose camcorder catalogs Mux's deeds for posterity. As Mux's fame grows, so does his organization--and the severity of his retributions. The regimentation of repression always seems peculiarly sinister when it's quiet and German; here the concept remains stronger than the execution, particularly since the grainy digital-video images tend to blur the aesthetic distinction between Mux's chronicler's amateur camerawork and Mittermeier's film. In German with subtitles. 92 min. (RS) Also on the program: Lancelot von Naso's The Surprise (11 min.). aRiver East, 8:30 PM

Whisky

"Say whiskey," a photographer tells dour Jacobo (Andres Pazos) and dowdy Marta (Mirella Pascual) as they pose for a lovers' portrait in this deadpan comedy from Uruguay. They aren't really in love: Jacobo, the Jewish owner of a small sock factory, has enlisted Marta, his long-suffering floor manager, to pose as his wife so he can look established and one-up his visiting brother (Jorge Bolani). The witty title aside, this is a miserably dull exercise in stingy-Jew humor and post-Jarmusch nonreaction: when I saw it at the Toronto film festival the crowd seemed to find it pretty funny; I thought it was like a hangover without the drunk. Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll directed. In Spanish with subtitles. 95 min. (JJ) aRiver East, 9 PM

Bear Cub

R See listing under Sunday, October 10. aLandmark, 9 PM

Up Against Them All

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 9:15 PM

Notre musique

RSee listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 9:15 PM

Outing Riley

See listing under Sunday, October 10. aRiver East, 9:30 PM

The Spectator

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 9:30 PM

Wednesday, October 13

Quiet as a Mouse

See listing under Tuesday, October 12. aRiver East, 4:15 PM

Outing Riley

See listing under Sunday, October 10. aRiver East, 4:30 PM

Blue Collar White Christmas

See listing under Tuesday, October 12. aLandmark, 5:15 PM

Buffalo Boy

Set in French Indochina in 1940, Minh Nguyen-vo's debut feature looks at a way of agrarian life that has largely disappeared from Vietnam. To save his family's farm from disaster after annual rains have flooded their land and nearly starved their buffalo, teenage Kim (Le The Lu) leaves his elderly parents to join a cattle drive to verdant mountain pastures. Along the way he survives run-ins with rival herders and strikes up a friendship with a Khmer loner, among other rites of passage; his association with the sinister trail boss eventually sheds light on his own origins. The elegiac tone here isn't set just by nostalgia for a vanished lifestyle: bereavement, lost love, and the ever present floodwaters add poignancy to the elliptical story, whose characters float in and out unbidden, and sometimes unexplained. In Vietnamese with subtitles. 102 minutes. (AG) aRiver East, 6:15 PM

Les choristes

See listing under Sunday, October 10. aLandmark, 6:15 PM

Battles Without Honor

and Humanity

RSee listing under Tuesday, October 12. aRiver East,

6:30 PM

Love in Thoughts

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aRiver East, 6:45 PM

The Cow

RI wrongly assumed that this venerated 1969 film, a founding gesture of the Iranian new wave, would be humanist and sentimental. In fact, Dariush Mehrjui's second feature, written with the late playwright Gholam-Hossein Saedi and shot in stark black and white, is a cruel allegory whose meanings are far from obvious. The owner (Ezzatolah Entezami) of the only cow in a village that's terrified of potential invaders goes mad and comes to believe he's a cow after the animal dies for unexplained reasons during his brief absence from home. Ultimately this is a film more about community and scapegoating than about aberrant individuality--full of dark implications, powerfully acted, and graced by a striking modernist score. 100 min. In Farsi with subtitles. Mehrjui will attend the screening. (JR) aLandmark, 6:45 PM

Aaltra

See listing under Sunday, October 10. aLandmark, 7 PM

The Souvenirs of Mr. X

See listing under Saturday, October 9. aLandmark, 7:15 PM

Campfire

New York-born Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar (A Time of Favor) combines romantic comedy and social criticism in this story of a widow, Rachel (Michaela Eshet), in 1981 Jerusalem who seeks to repair her family by joining a settlement in the occupied territories--a prospect that appalls her secularized teenage daughters. There's also pressure from the myopic settlers, who view her single-mom status as a threat. Blind dates with middle-aged bachelors ensue, and Rachel's trouble with her increasingly unsupervised kids escalates when the youngest (Hani Furstenberg) is assaulted during an overnight camping trip. The darker aspects of tribalism come under scrutiny here as nonconformists (unmarried men, women alone) are shown being marginalized, but by setting its tale before the start of the intifada, the movie only alludes to another group of outsiders--Palestinians are nowhere to be seen. In Hebrew with subtitles. 95 min. (AG) aRiver East, 8:30 PM

The Big Red One:

The Reconstruction

R My selection for the festival is a heroic effort by critic Richard Schickel to reconstruct Samuel Fuller's most ambitious feature--a semiautobiographical account of his own fighting unit during World War II that was severely truncated by distributors when first released in 1980. This isn't a director's cut, but it's 50 minutes longer, with 15 previously missing scenes and 23 extensions of existing scenes supplied from surviving footage using Fuller's script and notes as guidelines. Starring Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, and Bobby Di Cicco as well as Stephane Audran and Christa Lang (and with a cameo by Fuller himself), this multifaceted earthy and philosophical reflection on war runs the gamut from realism to surrealism. 163 min. Schickel will take questions after the screening. (JR) aLandmark, 8:30 PM

Kontroll

R This working-class black comedy is all the darker for never leaving the bowels of the Budapest subway system. A sad-sack squad of ticket checkers--homespun philosopher, gullible greenhorn, intellectual dropout, and narcoleptic hothead--strap on their red armbands and ply their dead-end trade, despised by fare payers and dodgers alike. In a world of peculiar battles, allegiances, perils, and thrills, the can't-get-any-lower status of the guys glues them together. Hallucinations and a hooded killer haunt the intersecting tunnels and passageways of the blacked-out or harshly lit subterranean system, but nothing seems more deadly than survival itself in Nimrod Antal's stylish, wry, vaguely Kafkaesque view of gainful employment. In Hungarian with subtitles. 106 min. (RS) aRiver East, 8:45 PM

Shorts 2: Where You Stand

See listing under Sunday, October 10. aRiver East, 9 PM

Stray Dogs

R See listing under Monday, October 11. aLandmark, 9 PM

The Center

R Documentary filmmaker Stanislaw Mucha tramps through several European countries in search of Europe's precise geographical center. Like the site of a miracle, this elusive place is the subject of highly partisan disputes between dozens of small towns, each of which claims the coveted title. As Mucha's often comic and poignant interviews with various locals progress, the ever-shifting "center" develops into a metaphor for the feelings of displacement and bewilderment felt by many rural citizens of the European Union. At times the film's pacing is awkward and a bit slow, but it's a fascinating and troubling look at the people the "new Europe" is leaving behind. In German, Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Slovak with subtitles. 85 min. (RP) aLandmark, 9:15

Undertow

R See listing under Tuesday, October 12. aLandmark,

9:30 PM

Thursday, October 14

The Taste of Tea

See listing under Tuesday, October 12. aLandmark, 3:30 PM

Shorts 2: Where You Stand

See listing under Sunday, October 10. aRiver East, 3:45 PM

Campfire

See listing under Wednesday, October 13. aRiver East, 4:30 PM

Quiet as a Mouse

See listing under Tuesday, October 12. aRiver East, 6 PM

South of the Clouds

R Zhu Wen's second feature gently and patiently limns a subtle portrait of a pensioner (Li Xuejian) who years earlier turned down the chance to relocate to Yunnan province in southern China. Dissatisfied with his life in a big northern city, he sets off alone on a journey to re-create the Yunnan "past" he never had, only to land in a world of fantasy wish fulfillment and absurdist modern farce, of gently exoticized eroticism and sexual blackmail. This aboveground film pulls no punches as it contrasts the richness of the lives of the people who came of age during the Cultural Revolution and the spiritual emptiness of the current generation. In Mandarin with subtitles. 100 min. (SK) aRiver East, 6:30 PM

The 10th District Court:

Judicial Hearings

R Raymond Depardon's riveting documentary about various routine cases brought before a woman judge in a Paris courtroom may be as brilliant as some of its advocates claim, but only if one's sufficiently alert to read at least some of the proceedings against the grain of her judgments. Through this procession of middle-class drunk drivers, alienated and/or dysfunctional individuals, and illegal aliens ranging from a pickpocket to an African whose only crime is never having the correct papers, a fascinating glimpse of contemporary France emerges--made apparent as much through the weary responses of Judge Michele Bernard-Requin and various fatuous court-appointed defenders as by the accused. The editing is brilliant. In French with subtitles. 105 min. (JR) aLandmark, 6:45 PM

Finding Neverland

A curiously subdued offering from Marc Forster (Monster's Ball) that, months before its release, has already landed Johnny Depp on the cover of Entertainment Weekly with much talk of Oscar nominations. Depp plays a rather inexpressive J.M. Barrie, stuck in a loveless marriage, turning out flop plays, and hopelessly attracted to a lovely widow (Kate Winslet, in English rose mode) and her four adorable apple-cheeked sons. Barrie's constant attentions to the family are here portrayed as innocent and selfless (though well past the bounds of propriety, according to Winslet's dragon-lady mother, a dazzling performance by Julie Christie). The plays and amusements the boys put on--by far the most successfully magical scenes in the movie--inspire Barrie to create his great work, Peter Pan. 101 min. (MB) aRiver East, 7 PM

Whisky

See listing under Tuesday, October 12. aLandmark, 7 PM

Sound and Fury

R Filmmaker Josh Aronson steps into a hornet's nest of controversy in this compelling PBS documentary about an extended family's struggle over whether to get their deaf children cochlear implants. Peter and Nita Artinian, both deaf from birth and strong proponents of deaf culture, are forced to confront the issue when their five-year-old daughter asks for one of the devices. Their wrenching decision is contrasted with the choice that Peter's brother and sister-in-law, both of whom have normal hearing, made to get their deaf son an implant. The deaf members of the family accuse the hearing members of destroying their child's deaf identity; the hearing members argue that not to implant the device would deny their child the chance to fully participate in society. This is an unflinching look at the dynamics of the three generations involved as they wrestle with the age-old question of what it means to have your children's best interests at heart. 80 min. (RP) aLandmark, 7:15 PM

Exiles

R Tony Gatlif, whose Gadjo dilo completed his lyrical "Gypsy Trilogy" in 1997, has made a career of finding formally inventive ways to use music as a principal narrative element in his films. But in Exiles the ways in which it propels the narrative are not nearly as profound as in his previous films. An Algerian-born couple who barely know each other impulsively decide to leave France for their native land, employing assorted modes of transportation to get there. Most of the film concerns their travels through Spain, giving Gatlif a fine excuse to show some mesmerizing flamenco dancing and guitar playing. With Romain Duris, who also starred in Gadjo dilo. In Arabic, French, and Romany with subtitles. 105 min. (JK) aLandmark, 7:15 PM

Four Shades of Brown

R Scripted by Killingganget, a popular Swedish comedy troupe, this sprawling three-hour film caroms heedlessly in several directions, among them ribald comedy, social satire, and genuine tragedy. Director Tomas Alfredson doesn't always maintain sharp control over his material, but there's so much going on I wasn't bored for a moment. Unspooling four simultaneous narrative lines that never intersect, Killingganget and Alfredson's jaundiced yet hopeful riff on humanity is reminiscent of Paul Thomas Anderson's work, especially Magnolia. The story lines include a middle-aged couple coping with their distressingly alienated son, a pathologically anal hotel owner and his magician parents, a therapy group whose oldest participant reveals a dark secret, and a corpse that sums up its lavish life postmortem. In Swedish with subtitles. 190 min. (JK) aRiver East, 8:15 PM

Shouf Shouf Habibi!

Mimoun Oaissa is the main reason to see this Dutch comedy about a Moroccan family coping with assimilation in their adopted homeland. Alternately deadpan and hangdog, with a hilariously elastic physicality, Oaissa, like some of the greats who've preceded him, has a fully evolved comic persona at the start of his career. He stars as Ab, a Dutch-born Moroccan keenly aware of his marginalized status in a seemingly tolerant but subtly racist culture. Trying to find his place, he spends all his time hanging out with his slacker buddies until he decides to honor his parents by taking a traditional Moroccan wife. Oaissa assisted writer-director Albert ter Heerdt in developing the story; not surprisingly the strongest scenes are those involving him. In Dutch and Arabic with subtitles. 88 min. (JK) aRiver East, 9 PM

The Waiting Room

Turkish writer-director Zeki Demirkubuz is also the star in this feature about a morose filmmaker who's determined to make an epic adaptation of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment and decides that a young thief who tried to break into his house would make an ideal Raskolnikov. In Turkish with subtitles. 94 min. Also on the program: Chel White's Magda (6 min.). aLandmark, 9 PM

Blue Collar White Christmas

See listing under Tuesday, October 12. aLandmark, 9:15 PM

Aaltra

See listing under Sunday, October 10. aRiver East, 9:30 PM

Lost Embrace

See listing under Tuesday, October 12. aLandmark, 9:30 PM

Primer

R Former engineer Shane Carruth makes an impressive debut with this low-budget, low-tech suspense film about two ambitious inventors (played by himself and David Sullivan) who stumble onto the secret of time travel. With no whiz-bang effects at its disposal, the movie sticks to the fever of inquiry and the practical complications that ensue as the young men try to figure out what they've got and how to exploit it. Carruth has cited paranoid 70s thrillers like The Conversation and All the President's Men as his models, and their influence is evident in the movie's hushed tone and oppressively overlit institutional spaces. A half-baked conspiracy subplot in the last third makes Carruth's knotty narrative even harder to follow, but this is still scary, puzzling, and different. 80 min. (JJ) aLandmark, 9:45 PM

Next week: Listings for October 15-21

WHERE River East 21 (322 E. Illinois), Landmark's Century Centre (2828 N. Clark), Thorne Auditorium (375 E. Chicago)

PRICE $11 after 5 PM ($9 for Cinema/Chicago members), $6 weekday matinees (before 5 PM). Passes for multiple screenings also available. Special presentations, which include "Critic's Choice" and "Flashback" programs, are $15 ($13 for Cinema/Chicago members).

ADVANCE SALES Cinema/Chicago, 32 W. Randolph, suite 600; Borders, 2817 N. Clark and 830 N. Michigan. By fax: 312-425-0944. By phone: 312-332-3456; Ticketmaster, 312-902-1500.

INFO 312-332-3456 or chicagofilmfestival.com

LISTINGS ONLINE chicagoreader.com

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