The Reader's Guide to the 34th Annual Chicago International Film Festival | Festival | Chicago Reader

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Friday, October 16

Foxy Brown

With her strong, chiseled features and take-no-prisoners attitude, Pam Grier was the best of the blaxploitation heroines of the 70s, transcending the tawdriness of vehicles like this one through sheer presence. She gamely bears the weight of the film's ideological inconsistency, functioning simultaneously as heroine and victim, avenger and sex kitten, conscience of the community and law unto herself. The film is dated, but its mixed message--and its potential to offend virtually everyone--still makes it a powerful discussion starter. Grier's Foxy has to rescue her younger brother from a drug ring, fight organized crime, and prevent a drug shipment from reaching the streets of her community, and along the way she's manhandled, abused, degraded, and displayed as a spectacle. Not for those made squeamish by torture, rape, castration, or foul language. (BS) (600 N. Michigan, 4:45)

The Freelancers

A French comedy about half a dozen musicians and the crises they encounter after being booked to perform a New Year's Eve concert in a castle in Normandy, directed by professional musician Denis Dercourt. (600 N. Michigan, 4:45)

Yerma

An adaptation of a play by Federico Garcia Lorca, directed by Pilar Tavora and starring Aitana Sanchez-Gijon and Irene Papas. (600 N. Michigan, 7:00)

Living Out Loud

The unlikely bond formed between a doctor's wife (Holly Hunter) who's just been abandoned by her husband and an elevator operator (Danny DeVito) is at the center of this bittersweet comedy by writer-director Richard LaGravenese, best known as the writer of The Fisher King. Queen Latifah also appears as a lounge singer. (600 N. Michigan, 7:00)

Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl

The directorial debut of Chinese-American actress Joan Chen, shot on the border between China and Tibet without permission from the Chinese government, is set during the final years of the Cultural Revolution and focuses on the misadventures of an idealistic young woman who travels to Tibet to work in a people's education program. To be screened Friday only with a short film by Laura Bennett, Double D. (Music Box, 7:00)

Two-Lane Blacktop

This exciting existentialist road movie by Monte Hellman, with a swell script by Rudolph Wurlitzer and Will Corry and my favorite Warren Oates performance, looks even better now than it did in 1971. James Taylor and Dennis Wilson are the drivers of a supercharged 55 Chevy and Warren Oates is the owner of a new GTO (these nameless characters are in fact identified only by the cars they drive); they meet and agree to race from New Mexico to the east coast, though side interests periodically distract them, including various hitchhikers (among them Laurie Bird). (GTO hilariously assumes a new identity every time he picks up a new passenger, rather like the amorphous narrator in Wurlitzer's novel Nog.) Unsettlingly, the movie starts off as a narrative but gradually grows into something much more abstract; that's also what beautiful about it. (JR) (Music Box, 7:00)

My Son the Fanatic

Among the most provocative works about the intersection of British and Muslim culture in contemporary England is "My Son the Fanatic," a short story by Hanif Kureishi that describes generational, religious, and ethical conflicts in a depressed northern town. Kureishi adapted his story for this feature, though he later clashed with director Udayan Prasad over the production. The film focuses on emigre cabdriver Parvez, whose love and respect for most things in his adopted country put him at loggerheads with his newly fundamentalist Muslim son. Unfortunately Prasad, a veteran BBC television director, never finds the right tone for the story. He gives the film a garish, cartoonish quality (exemplified by Stellan Skarsgard's shameless overacting as a hedonistic German businessman) that undermines the tale's intrinsic interest. (AS) (600 N. Michigan, 7:15)

The Buttoners

This absurdist black comedy has racked up a string of international prizes and achieved cult status back home in the Czech Republic. It has serious things to say, yet it qualifies as one of the most off-the-wall films of the year, worthy of comparison with an Ionesco comedy. Very hip with its apocalyptic millennial tone (purportedly unintended), the film's point of departure is the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, and it includes six interlocking episodes that involve four Japanese discussing the therapeutic effects of swearing while the Enola Gay flies overhead, a taxi driver whose customers have sex in the backseat, a couple watching a TV special about frozen sperm being sent out into space, and respectable parents at a prewedding dinner demonstrating their erotic hobbies, one of which is snapping off upholstery buttons with dentures hidden in trousers. The tenuously related, kaleidoscopic ironies come ingeniously and amusingly full circle as the ghost of the American A-bomb pilot appears and asks forgiveness. This is the second feature of the talented writer-director Petr Zelenka. (AM) (600 N. Michigan, 7:15)

Serial Lover

Contemporary French cinema seems poised between two distinct paradigms: realist, intellectual art cinema (such as that of Olivier Assayas, Arnaud Desplechin, and Benoit Jacquot) and aggressively commercial, American-style genre features. James Huth's dismal and misanthropic Serial Lover fits squarely into the second group. Like its worst predecessors, Mathieu Kassovitz's Assassin(s) and Jan Kounen Doberman, it's full of baroque camera angles, saturated color schemes, and frenetic movement within the frame, as if they could compensate for an absence of feeling and control over the material. Michele Laroque plays an attractive 35-year-old career woman who invites four former lovers over for dinner, telling them she intends to select one of them to marry. In the ensuing 20 minutes of mayhem, she inadvertently kills each one. The act of disposing of the bodies is complicated by her sister's arrival with innumerable guests for a surprise birthday party and by two taciturn cops tracking down a couple of burglars. Only a truly skilled director such as Claude Chabrol or Maurice Pialat could handle this kind of macabre tone and violent wit, and Huth, with neither sureness of tone nor feeling for space and emotional development, is thoroughly out of that league. He can manage only a very physical, almost contemptuous form of moviemaking that chokes off any sense of wonder or surprise. Shot and cut with little sense of rhythm or tempo, this movie nonetheless seems smugly sure of its own hip superiority. (PM) (600 N. Michigan, 9:15)

Spring in My Hometown

For kids growing up in a South Korean village during the Korean war, American GIs were part of the scenery; the kids watched them riding around in jeeps and hung around the army bases, but they never got too close to the devastation of war. Lee Kwangmo's gloriously photographed new feature starts innocently enough in 1952, when the war is nearly over. His inquisitive young principals, Chang-hee and Sung-min, play in haystacks, tease their playmates about being commies, and get into the usual scrapes. Then one day Chang-hee discovers his mother selling herself to an American soldier while Sung-min's father stands guard. Lee keeps his distance as he portrays the tragic fallout of this war, the quiet disintegration of family relationships. (AM) (600 N. Michigan, 9:15)

Waking Ned Divine

When someone wins the lottery in a tiny Irish sea town, a pair of old friends (Ian Bannen and David Kelly) plot to find out who it is--they even suspect each other--so they can suck up and share the wealth. Their scheme gets complicated after they discover the winner's identity, and their machinations are intercut with a plotline about a young mother juggling suitors, one of whom is convinced he's the father of her child. Though it strives for broad humor, pushing cuteness and light irony, this bland movie isn't exactly a comedy. Written and directed by Kirk Jones. (LA) (600 N. Michigan, 9:15)

Six Ways to Sunday

A disgruntled 18-year-old burger-joint worker joins the Jewish Mafia as a hit man in a U.S. feature directed by Adam Bernstein; Deborah Harry plays the hero's mother. (600 N. Michigan, 9:30)

The Inheritors

This darkly comic offering from Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky is set in rural Austria of the 1930s. After one of the local landowners is found murdered, the public reading of his will reveals that, as a final misanthropic gesture, he's left his property to his seven utterly ignorant farmhands just to spite the other landowners. He'd been convinced that the peasants' native greed would cause them to destroy each other; instead, though fearful of each other and the outside world, they learn to work together and to collectively confront their tormentors. Ruzowitzky has a sharp eye for class conflict, and the scenes in which the landowners attempt to intimidate the former peasants are delightfully tense and full of deep archetypal significance. The film's romantic style and quasi-mythic approach recall the excellent German film Brother of Sleep from a couple of years ago and, more distantly, Werner Herzog's sublime Heart of Glass. Heartwarming isn't the right word to apply to a film this dark, but the struggle of the once powerless against the protofascist landowners is deeply satisfying. (PB) (Music Box, 9:30)

Blue Moon

Scripted and directed by Ko I-cheng--a member of the Taiwanese new wave best known as an actor outside of Taiwan, particularly for his roles in Edward Yang films--this exciting feature consists of five 20-minute reels designed to be shown in any order, so that 120 versions of the film are possible. (Ko wrote all five scripts simultaneously, on different colored sheets of paper.) In most respects this is a conventional, even commercial narrative feature, which makes for what I like most about it--it demands the viewer's creative participation at the same time that it pretends to satisfy all the usual expectations. All five reels feature more or less the same characters and settings--including a young woman, a writer, a film producer, and a restaurant owner, all of whom live in Taipei and belong to the same circle--but in each reel the woman is involved with one of two men. One can construct a continuous narrative by positing some reels as flashbacks, as flash-forwards, or as events that transpire in a parallel universe. I've seen this picture only once, but I'm dying to see it again, to see what new configurations result. If you're feeling adventurous, I'd advise you to buy a ticket to at least two of the four scheduled screenings. (JR) (Music Box, 9:30)

Saturday, October 17

In the Navel of the Sea

An idyllic tropical-island village in the Philippines is imperiled when its younger inhabitants are tempted by modern life in nearby Manila. The changes are seen through the eyes of Pepito, son of the island's midwife; he too dreams of life in the big city but is torn by a sense of duty to his mother as her apprentice. The film does strive for some complexity, mostly by avoiding a simple "bad city versus innocent, happy island" tale. But director Marilou Diaz-Abaya has a difficult time deciding what kind of story she's trying to tell and so opts for a little of everything: a coming-of-age story, a melodrama, a cautionary tale about the loss of tradition, and a drama sprinkled with some magic realism. I found myself wishing that she would simply cut loose and do an over-the-top melodrama, since the movie has all the makings of a good one. In the Navel of the Sea is certainly pleasant to watch, but it never amounts to much. (RP) (600 N. Michigan, 12:15)

Felice...Felice...

In opting to make a film about 19th-century Japan without leaving Amsterdam, and to make it in Japanese with an actor who can't speak a word of the language, Peter Delpeut no doubt meant to mirror the cultural alienation that is his subject. Felice... Felice... is the story of a photographer (loosely based on real-life photographer Felice Beato) who has returned to Japan after a six-year spiritual quest to understand the life and wife he left behind. Returning to the scenes of photographs he's taken in the past--he has sold his camera in an act of undefined penance--he discovers that he's never really seen the country or the people he captured on film. The finale is a rambling end-of-century disquisition on how motion pictures will inject much-needed new life into photography, which is obviously what Delpeut, who until this film worked almost exclusively with found footage, had intended to do to the still photographs that punctuate his narrative. But life is precisely what's lacking in this dour undertaking. Johan Leysen's Felice walks or more often sits around looking like Max von Sydow at his most dyspeptic, occasionally gazing toward the fuzzy exteriors in poetic silence. Of course the audience is invited to share in the artifice: Leysen is looking out at an exterior that seems particularly fake (in focus for a change) when a hand appears and brushes off the surface, revealing that it's a painting used as a backdrop for portraits (apparently clients prefer a fake Mount Fuji to a real one). But it would certainly help if someone cracked a smile or a joke, or--given that it's about photography--had a more compelling sense of composition. (RS) (600 N. Michigan, 12:30)

Dance of the Wind

Rajan Khosa's Hindi feature about a young singer who loses her voice, then finds it again after meeting a mysterious child and discovering classic Hindustani music. To be screened with a short film by Perry Lim, 17 Years to Earth. (Music Box, 12:30)

Lace

A feature by Egyptian director Inas Al Degheidy about a long-term friendship between two women that transcends class barriers: one is a nightclub singer, the other an attorney. (600 N. Michigan, 2:15)

Return With Honor

A U.S. documentary by Freida Lee Mock and Terry Sanders (Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision), about the 462 American pilots who became POWs during the Vietnam war. On the same program, a short film by William Farley, Sea Space. (600 N. Michigan, 2:15)

The Freelancers

See listing under Friday, October 16. (600 N. Michigan, 2:30)

The Outskirts

Phillip Safronov is evicted from lands in the Urals that his forefathers tilled for more than 500 years by "entrepreneurs" taking advantage of the recent privatization in Russia. Armed with World War II rifles, he and his family and neighbors, who have also been dispossessed, set off to find the bureaucrats who've cheated them. This Russian western, shot in magnificent black and white, shows them traversing vast snowfields and mountain passes, camping under sheepskin tents to the cries of wolves, and planning their vigilante justice, despite their misgivings. The directorial debut of longtime scenarist Peter Lutsik, this won the critics prize at an important Russian national festival in June. (AM) (600 N. Michigan, 2:30)

Free of Eden

Sydney Poitier costars with his daughter Sydney Tamiia Poitier in a U.S. feature about a ruthless businessman who winds up tutoring a high school dropout he once taught in grammar school; Leon Ichaso directed. (Chatham 14, 2:30)

Gone With the Train

More a stylistic exercise than a feature film, this first-time effort by Slovenian director Igor Sterk is a languid comedy about a man's seemingly aimless train journey around that country. In a manner reminiscent of Jacques Tati, Gone With the Train strings together a series of episodes that follow the protagonist's encounters with an eclectic group of fellow travelers. Among the colorful cast of characters who show up at one time or another are a balloon seller, two deaf-mutes, and an enigmatic young woman who becomes the hero's love interest. Like Tati, Sterk relies mostly on visual gags, sprinkling the story with surreal idiosyncrasies and reducing the dialogue to a bare minimum. But with very little dramatic development and one-dimensional characterizations, the film plays at a constant pitch. After a while qualities that initially seem refreshing become mannered and tedious to watch. Within its chosen style Gone With the Train contains enough material for an inventive short; at 74 minutes it overstays its welcome. (ZB) (Music Box, 2:45)

Flying Saucer Rock 'n' Roll: Comedy Shorts

Short films from Scotland, Canada, the U.S., and Ireland. (Music Box, 3:00)

The Stowaway

Options are limited for the title character of Ben van Lieshout's The Stowaway after his hometown fishing village in Uzbekistan is left high and dry by the receding waters of the Aral Sea. His father stubbornly refuses to give up his ship, now moored in the desert, and once he's helped the other young men junk their boats for salvage, there isn't a hell of a lot left to do. He soon stows away, intending to go to America, but winds up in Holland. There he's taken in by the wife and son of a rarely at home seaman. The Stowaway is yet another variation on that rich European genre, the immigrant movie, wherein a representative of a madly ethnic "other world" walks a tragicomic tightrope between alienation and assimilation. Yet what's so extraordinary about van Lieshout's quietly vibrant film is the absolute parity of the two cultures. The casual surrealism of the Uzbeki landscape--the village is like some weird naval ghost town--refuses to register as grungy underdevelopment and could as well foretell first-world rather than third-world disaster (unemployment by act of God rather than by economic fiat). And the facility with which our hero and his new Dutch family swap camels for tulips--in a joyous exchange of language, song, and favorite recipes--has less to do with the absorption of a more colorful "tribal" culture by a soulless modernist one than with the mutual adoption of alternative lifestyles (the son is ecstatic at having "two dads"). Rarely has human dignity come in so laid-back and disarming a guise. (RS) (600 N. Michigan, 4:30)

Christmas in August

Films about death and dying are relatively rare, which leaves a lot of room for innovative cinematic approaches. In Christmas in August Korean director Hur Jin-ho tries to give the subject a new twist, though he's only partly successful. The story follows a photographer, the owner of a small studio, for a few months. A single man in his mid-30s, he's resigned to his daily routine and devoid of ambition. Upon receiving the news that he's terminally ill, he reevaluates his priorities and then develops closer ties with the people near him. The contrast between life's reality and what gets captured in a photograph is nicely handled, but otherwise this part of the film isn't particularly inventive. Many of the linearly developed situations are repetitive, the dialogue is stilted (at least as subtitled), a love-story subplot borders on cliche, and the visuals--lots of close-ups and medium shots--suggest a run-of-the-mill television drama. But Christmas in August almost completely redeems itself toward the end with a captivating 15-minute, almost silent compilation of images chronicling the protagonist's final days. There's no dialogue, no underlying sense of sorrow or pity, just a graceful, poetically powerful visual reflection on life's transience and the eternal tranquillity that follows. One only wishes that the filmmaker had gone boldly in this direction much earlier. (ZB) (Music Box, 4:30)

The Small Town

It's amazing how many forms of narrative fall completely outside the purview of Hollywood filmmaking. Imagine someone trying to pitch Nuri Bilge Ceylan's first feature, a black-and-white depiction of life in a small Turkish town, which has no story line whatsoever. Though the film's not specifically from their point of view, two children, a boy and a girl, loosely link the four movements, which traverse the four seasons. Ceylan's evocation of a winter morning in a schoolroom finds as much meaning in the hiss of socks dripping on a potbellied stove or in a feather blown from student to student as it does in the children's read-aloud lessons on social solidarity. A spring afternoon follows the kids' desultory wanderings through the woods, as they overturn turtles as a test of good and evil. During a long summer evening around a campfire their elders rehash the history of their family (who left, who stayed, who came back) and their nation (lost wars, forced emigrations, and the manifest destiny of Alexander the Great). The autumn scenes float in a confused twilight, as in the jagged continuum when one is half asleep, half awake. The Small Town could take place in a day or a year--it's as if the fragmented moments it captures were already in the process of becoming memory. (RS) (600 N. Michigan, 4:45)

The Hole

This is the complete 95-minute version of Tsai Ming-liang's film for the French TV series "2000 Seen By" (the 69-minute version, Last Dance, recently showed at the Film Center). It's well worth seeing in any form, though this is the version Tsai prefers. An SF film set in the present, wryly postapocalyptic and gorgeously shot and framed, it charts the effects of an epidemic on a Taipei man and the woman who lives in the apartment directly below his. After the rest of the building has been vacated, a plumber drills a hole in the man's floor and neglects to fill it up again. Periodically the man or the woman, sometimes both of them, breaks into full-scale musical numbers that re-create Hong Kong musicals of the 50s, using both the voice and inspiration of Grace Chang; the rest of the time, they're wrestling with the same sort of urban angst and alienation that consume Tsai's characters in Rebels of a Neon God, Vive l'amour, and The River. I like all of his films, but this one has given me the most pleasure. (JR) (600 N. Michigan, 4:45)

Stuart Bliss

Everything seems to be going well for Stuart Bliss (Michael Zelniker)--he's employee of the month at a wholesale consumer-products company, and he has a nice wife (Dea Lawrence) and a nice little adobe bungalow in the San Fernando Valley. But then his wife abruptly leaves him for undisclosed reasons--right after his boss (the late Hoke Howell) has asked him to do a sales campaign promoting the Geiger counter as a household necessity. Suddenly Stuart sees signs everywhere that the apocalypse is imminent--in the pronouncements of a man with a sandwich board, in the message of a televangelist who seems to be speaking directly to him, in the alarming levels of radiation he's detecting with his Geiger counter. This black comedy, cowritten by Zelniker and director Neil Grieve, occasionally seems on the verge of getting zany, but it never happens, perhaps intentionally--a disturbing undertone of malevolent paranoia eventually squeezes out most of the humor. Thankfully, Grieve doesn't attempt to tie up all the loose ends, leaving one to wonder where Stuart's psychosis ends and a very dark reality begins. (JK) (600 N. Michigan, 4:45)

Brother Tied

Described as a noir version of John Steinbeck's East of Eden, this U.S. feature was directed by Derek M. Cianfrance. (Chatham 14, 5:00)

The Color of Courage

Based on real events in the mid-1940s, this film, made for the USA cable channel, describes discrimination against the McGhees, an affluent black family that moved into an all-white neighborhood in the suburbs of Detroit only to see local officials try to enforce a restrictive covenant barring blacks from owning homes in the neighborhood. The story is told through the eyes of Minnie McGhee (Lynn Whitfield) and her white neighbor, Anna Sipes (Linda Hamilton), whose blossoming friendship is put to the test when the Sipeses are bullied by the neighborhood association into joining a court case against the McGhees. The movie features fine performances and terrific production values, but suffers from its made-for-television conventions. The script by Kathleen McGhee-Anderson (Minnie and Mac McGhee's daughter) casts everything in far too simplistic a light, frequently portraying Minnie and Anna as little more than two giggly schoolgirls opposing the snooty and prudish neighbors. As with all television docudramas, the story is resolved speedily and ever so neatly in the last ten minutes, leaving me to wonder if Hollywood will ever trust us enough to give us a civil rights drama with the honesty and complexity this subject deserves. (RP) (Music Box, 5:00)

Sweet Degeneration

Lin Cheng-sheng's fourth feature, Sweet Degeneration, is his most satisfying to date. He uses the slow observational style of most of the Taiwanese "second generation" directors who follow in the footsteps of masters Hou Hsiao-hsien and Edward Yang, and he has found his narrative voice in their deceptively simple and reality-based method of storytelling. Chuen-sheng, just released from the army, thwarts his family's attempts to have a homecoming celebration by stealing money from his father and spending the night with a prostitute. In the days that follow he makes a point of avoiding his devoted and clinging older sister Ju-feng, living a dissolute life while halfheartedly pursuing his dream of working as a jazz saxophonist. Bit by bit, a tale of childhood incest comes to the fore, galvanizing the story and giving its disparate subplots a new logic. Several black-and-white flashbacks meant to shed light on the brother-sister relationship are needlessly jarring, but this is otherwise a strong and engrossing film. (BS) (600 N. Michigan, 6:30)

Chances or Coincidences

Few things are more deadly than a labored lightness of being. Claude Lelouch's latest outing, Chances or Coincidence, deploys an arsenal of camera pyrotechnics in an attempt to put a whimsical spin on the tale of a young ballerina who goes from having everything to having nothing at all. The film starts with elaborate circular celebrations of love, the camera twirling around a man, a woman, and a child as they meet, the adults fall madly in love, and they all happily ring-around-the-rosy with one another (in many ways the first half of the film looks like a set of variations on Lelouch's famous 360-degree pan in A Man and a Woman). In the second half the woman's idyllic existence is shattered, and we get an even more elaborate cross-referential maze of divergently recorded images eulogizing her loss. The stuff of her mourning quilt is variegated--documentary footage of whirling dervishes, television reportage of rampaging polar bears, glittering musical numbers in New York bars, camcorder travelogues for the dead--all in countless replays and rerecordings. Meanwhile, back in Quebec, a futurologist-cum-performance artist hares off to rescue her, toting his own collection of videotaped images from her life. It all sounds very fey and dashing, but Lelouch makes such a big production out of every shot that it collapses under the weight of its artifice. Adding insult to injury, he stacks layers of arch pseudophilosophical dialogue--truth versus fakery, chance versus destiny--on top of all the excess. (RS) (Music Box, 6:30)

Too Tired to Die

Set in New York's trendy SoHo district, this earnestly charming black comedy, written and directed by Korean-born Wonsuk Chin, posits several interesting metaphysical questions that offset the occasionally pretentious and ironic tone. As a take on the overexposed downtown Manhattan scene, it's remarkably fresh and mature, reminding one of the old adage that a foreigner's perspective is often the most successful in candidly portraying a specific milieu. Stunningly shot by Jim Denault, and aided by a sterling cast that includes Hong Kong-Taiwanese acting and singing superstar Takeshi Kaneshiro, Mira Sorvino, and Ben Gazzara, the film follows the final two days in the life of Kenji (Kaneshiro), a Japanese slacker who, soon after having a strange dream, (beautifully rendered as a silent-movie tableau), is visited by Death (Sorvino) and told he has just 12 hours to live. Kenji, jobless and unambitious, struggles to figure out what he should do with his remaining time on earth. Vaguely aware that he should be having a good time, he decides to pursue a beautiful German woman (Geno Lechner) he's just met at a cafe. The film's conclusion is touching yet oddly unresolved. (JK) (600 N. Michigan, 6:40)

Park Day

The directorial debut of Sterling Macer Jr., shot in his hometown and based on real-life events, portrays a reunion of black families who fled a Missouri town after a series of lynchings in 1906. (600 N. Michigan, 6:45)

The Theory of Flight

A romantic comedy by Paul Greengrass in which Kenneth Branagh plays an unsuccessful flying-machine inventor sentenced to 120 hours of community service and Helena Bonham Carter plays a woman with a terminal illness who's confined to a wheelchair. (600 N. Michigan, 7:00)

The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase

Part pseudodocumentary, part experimental work, Joshua Oppenheimer's strange 50-minute film examines the dark undercurrent of paranoia in American society. The film's main narrative thread concerns a young schizophrenic mother named Mary Anne Ward, who's accused of killing her baby in a microwave oven. The story is related through a series of "interviews" with friends and family as well as an assorted group of unrelated oddballs, including a satanist, psychologists, right-wing fundamentalist Christians, and militia types--all eager to put their own peculiar spin on the meaning of the murder. Interspersed with the interviews are scenes of Ward interacting with her child and a wide variety of archival footage, ranging from old interviews with schizophrenic patients to scenes of cowboys and Indians from B westerns. Oppenheimer deftly combines the footage in a way that raises compelling questions about the connection between the paranoid delusions of some forms of mental illness and conspiracy theories, anti-Semitism, and racism swirling through American political history. The film veers into the sophomoric at times--the pretentious narration/monologue from Ward, the scenes from the murder--but the casting is inspired. On the same program, Jill Godmillow's 29-minute short What Farocki Taught. (RP) (Music Box, 7:00)

Miguel/Michelle

Before leaving his Filipino village for America, young Miguel (Romnick Sarmienta) is given some last-minute advice by his family and friends: earn lots of money, make them and his hometown proud, and marry a blond for the sake of the children. He does become a success, but when he returns seven years later it's as the worldly, busty Michelle. The pain and confusion surrounding such an awkward homecoming is sensitively explored by cowriter and director Gil M. Portes, a veteran of Filipino film and television. Many of the scenes between Michelle and her mother (Gloria Diaz), her father (Ray Ventura), and her sister (Erika Siguia) as they try to find some sort of emotional terra firma are both humorous and touching. The film gets sidetracked by a subplot involving Michelle's best friend, Julio (Cris Villanueva), a closeted gay who's engaged to be married; his struggle to come to terms with his sexuality is credibly dramatized, but Michelle's attempts to intercede take on an increasingly preachy tone, and their dialogue is hampered by too many homilies and platitudes. No new ground is broken here, though this is an honest effort to capture the difficulties transsexuals face. (JK) (600 N. Michigan, 8:45)

The Falling

This stylish first feature from Canadian actor-scriptwriter Raul Sanchez Inglis ingeniously draws inspiration from Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon. A noirish love triangle of shifting viewpoints, the story traces the destinies of Morgan, a jealous ex-husband and former cop; his rival Lars, a music-industry talent scout; and Karis, a smoldering brunette who doesn't like the prospect of being alone but can't make up her mind between the two men. Immediately drawn to each other when they meet in a nightclub, Karis and Lars have a passionate and frenzied liaison while Morgan secretly stalks them. What begins as a rather simple love story turns into a riveting game of shifting expectations about the multiple truths of each character's reality. (AM) (Music Box, 8:45)

Left Luggage

Jeroen Krabbe directs this English-language drama from the Netherlands, about a young Jewish woman's awakening to Judaic tradition and history. Set in Antwerp in 1972, a free-spirited college student named Chaja (Laura Fraser), the daughter of two secular Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, is thrust into a seemingly alien world when she accepts a position as the nanny for a Hasidic family. While often contentious, Chaja's relationship with the family slowly develops into one of mutual trust and caring; it also gives Chaja some insight into her parents' reluctance to deal with their own Holocaust experiences. This is an engaging, sweet-natured film with its heart in the right place, but it's just a little too pat and contrived at times. Some characters, including Chaja's parents (played by Maximilian Schell and Marianne SŠgebrecht) are too overdrawn to be believable, as are some conflicts between various characters. But the strong performances keep the movie alive, especially those of Fraser and the always reliable Isabella Rossellini as the Orthodox matron. (RP) (600 N. Michigan, 9:00)

Requiem

A French writer in Portugal who's preoccupied with writer Fernando Pessoa is the subject of this Swiss-Portuguese production from Swiss filmmaker Alain Tanner. (600 N. Michigan, 9:00)

Down in the Delta

The directorial debut of poet Maya Angelou, working with a script by Myron Goble about a poor Chicago family that moves to the Mississippi Delta; the cast includes Alfre Woodard, Wesley Snipes, and Mary Alice. (600 N. Michigan, 9:00)

Happiness

I'll concede that Todd Solondz's 134-minute epic of sexual disgruntlement in the New Jersey suburbs--the number-one buzz item at the Toronto film festival--is worth seeing, and not only for its shock value. But I don't think it deserves all the high marks it's been getting for compassion and understanding, especially given the campy use of elevator music whenever the misery of the large cast of characters gets too close for comfort. Everyone who likes this movie calls it disturbing, but what disturbs me most is the kind of laughter it provokes; it's much like the laughter one hears at Woody Allen and Michael Moore comedies--self-loathing--and it clearly sells. So even if I'm touched by the treatment of a child molester who loves his son, I don't like it that I'm also supposed to sympathize with the molester when he's a therapist who doesn't listen to his clients. An obsessive primitive with a clodhopper sense of excess, Solondz already proved in Welcome to the Dollhouse that he can carry dark obsessions further than most, but he still stoops to using teenage gross-out antics like those of the Farrelly brothers and calls it art rather than entertainment, confident that the media who've been eager to chart Clinton's semen flow will go along. Happiness is at least as pretentious as any Robert Altman flag-waver, even as it broadens the scope of permissible film content and gives its cast plenty to chew over. With Dylan Baker, Jane Adams, Lara Flynn Boyle, Ben Gazzara, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Cynthia Stevenson, and Jared Harris. (JR) (Music Box, 9:15)

Sunday, October 18

Dance of the Wind

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (Music Box, 11:30)

Mensaka

This Spanish feature, adapted by Luis Marias from a novel by Jose Angel Ma–as, marks the directorial debut of Salvador Garcia Ruiz. A mensaka is a motorbike messenger, and the one in this film plays drums in a band. (600 N. Michigan, noon)

Tropic of Emerald

A Dutch feature directed by Orlow Seunke, set in Indonesia in the 1940s, involving an adulterous affair carried out by a rebellious native woman and a Dutch worker on a rubber plantation, and the complications that arise after the Japanese invade the country in 1942. (600 N. Michigan, noon)

World of Animation

The best works in this program of 16 shorts are both disturbing and visionary. Dolls play violins in Paganini's Dream, but what makes the film powerful is the way director Suzie Hanna shifts styles and techniques from one sequence to the next, evoking a world of continuous transformation and destabilizing the viewer. A strange creature in a creepy cellar seems plagued by bugs in Monika Stellmach's Arkanum, while a toy collection comes to life and goes crazy in Martin Davies's Keep in a Dry Place and Away From Children. Jennifer Shiman's infomercial parody, Info-Love, goes a bit beyond its bright, cartoony feel with sudden, jumpy shifts in facial expressions; Sharon Cresswell's The Dirt Inside uses clay to make two-dimensional pictures whose distance from the 3-D world provides an effective context for its evocation of a traumatic dream or memory. The lesser films aren't particularly coherent in their use of film space, though Steven Dovas's Call Me Fishmael is an amusing parody of film pitching, attempting to "sell" Moby-Dick, with a gloved hand "playing" the ship. On the same program, films by Stephen Brown, Ties Poeth, Jon Foulk, Franci Slak and Milos Radosavljecvic, Orly Yadin and Sylvie Bringas, Piet Kroon, Liang-yuan Wang, and Gerrit van Dijk. (FC) (Music Box, 1:00)

Miguel/Michelle

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (Music Box, 2:00)

Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl

See listing under Friday, October 16. (600 N. Michigan, 2:15)

The Polish Bride

A quietly compelling look at Dutch reserve and resolve, this low-budget drama marks a strong feature debut by Algerian-born director Karim Traida, whose background in documentary and interest in the problems of immigrants in a foreign environment give this love story focus. When Polish emigre Anna escapes from forced prostitution, she's taken in by gruff but kindly Dutch farmer Henk. Bonds of trust and friendship grow between this unlikely couple, who share a strong work ethic. When Anna's former employers demand that she return, Henk's peaceful way of life is shattered. Humorous and poignant details, powerful performances, and beautiful cinematography help to obscure the film's weak ending, which seems dictated by wish fulfillment rather than narrative logic. (AS) (600 N. Michigan, 2:30)

Too Tired to Die

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 2:30)

Aprile

Comic film essayist Nanni Moretti may be an acquired tast--a taste acquired by a good many viewers in Italy and France, where he's a major cult figure--but I can't think of a better introduction to his work than this feature about his struggles with fatherhood and Italian politics and how they interface. I don't know if this means Aprile is his best film, but either because familiarity breeds affection or because his style is becoming fleeter, this is the Moretti feature I've found easiest to enjoy. The month of April is when his son is born and when Italy's first left-wing government is elected; it's also when Moretti decides to delay his favorite film project--a musical centered on a Trotskyite pastry chef--to make a documentary about the upcoming election. Neither movie gets made, but we wind up getting tantalizing glimpses of both and learning a lot about contemporary Italy--and Moretti's special blend of the personal and the political--in the process. (JR) (600 N. Michigan, 2:30)

Blue Moon

See listing under Friday, October 16. (Music Box, 3:15)

Park Day

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (Chatham 14, 3:30)

Six Ways to Sunday

See listing under Friday, October 16. (600 N. Michigan, 4:30)

The Theory of Flight

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 4:30)

Return With Honor

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 4:30)

It's a Long Road

Veteran Greek director Pantelis Voulgaris's It's a Long Road is a profoundly moving trilogy of separately titled films, each tracing a turning point late in a different man's life. In the first tale an archaeologist uncovers an ancient tomb in Macedonia, finding a soldier with a silver coin on his lips as payment for Charon, who ferries the dead. So the archaeologist sets off on his own voyage to the other side, a pilgrimage to the desolate outpost where his 20-year-old son killed himself while doing his mandatory military service. The second story is literally a wild-goose chase through the wetlands of the Evros delta, as a trio of young ornithologists follow the last of a vanishing species from Norway to Thrace with the aid of sophisticated tracking devices and also forge new friendships out of old love affairs. But the chase is more primitive and more lethal for a determined poacher and an old game warden. In the last entry, a factory owner whose wife and kids have left him takes refuge in "Vietnam"--a sleazy, hooker-friendly bar in the middle of nowhere that boasts an impressive roster of singers with seemingly limitless repertoires of songs of rage and despair. What extraordinary is that the three vignettes in Voulgaris's anthology--each very different in tone, landscape, and camera style--all conjure with ghosts from the past, whether the long-gone days of Hellenic hegemony, a mythical lost oneness with nature, or the finger-snapping folklore of Zorba the Greek. (RS) (600 N. Michigan, 4:30)

Yerma

See listing under Friday, October 16. (Music Box, 4:30)

The Buttoners

See listing under Friday, October 16. (Music Box, 5:15)

The Color of Courage

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (Chatham 14, 6:00)

Brother Tied

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 6:30)

The Inheritors

See listing under Friday, October 16. (600 N. Michigan, 6:45)

Requiem

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 7:00)

Waking Ned Divine

See listing under Friday, October 16. (600 N. Michigan, 7:00)

Serial Lover

See listing under Friday, October 16. (Music Box, 7:00)

Blue Moon

See listing under Friday, October 16. (Music Box, 7:15)

Stuart Bliss

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 8:45)

Free of Eden

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 9:00)

In the Navel of the Sea

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 9:00)

Sweet Degeneration

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 9:00)

Man Is a Woman

A gay musician (European TV star Antoine de Caunes) is bribed by his mother and uncle into being the groom in an arranged Orthodox Jewish marriage. Jean-Jacques Zilbermann directed this French farce with a klezmer score. (Music Box, 9:00)

Flying Saucer Rock 'n' Roll: Comedy Shorts

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

Monday, October 19

Tropic of Emerald

See listing under Sunday, October 18. (600 N. Michigan, 4:00)

The Small Town

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 4:30)

Lace

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 6:15)

The Polish Bride

See listing under Sunday, October 18. (600 N. Michigan, 6:30)

Chances or Coincidences

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 6:30)

Mensaka

See listing under Sunday, October 18. (Music Box, 6:30)

The Color of Courage

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 7:00)

Bus to the World

A program of dramatic shorts from five countries. The strongest is Gavin Hood's The Storekeeper, set in South Africa. Not only does the narrative close an awful trap, as a storekeeper's attempts to protect against burglary backfire tragically, but the repeated use of claustrophobic close-ups builds its intensity. Also striking is Joshua Marston's Bus to Queens, an almost surreal tale of an encounter between Ukrainian visitors to New York and a crooked Pakistani taxi driver and his friend. Whole sections of untranslated dialogue effectively, if frustratingly, convey their communication difficulties, though the behavior of the driver and his friend remains unexplained. Omri Levy's Bedouin Sand, about a troubled and noncommunicative Israeli family on an outing in which the youngest boy wanders into a minefield, is at once gripping and a bit cliched, both dramatically and cinematically. Greg Page's Sarah's Washing, about a strange encounter between two neighbors, and Rachel Bailey's Operation Dostoyevsky, about a troubled schoolboy and his friend, are provocative, but their attempts to present off-center characters don't quite work. On the same program, Maja Weiss's Adrian. (FC) (Music Box, 7:00)

The Rose Seller

Magic realism and grit meet in The Rose Seller, by Colombian director Victor Gaviria, who garnered considerable acclaim with his first feature, Rodrigo D. (No Future) (1990). This film has a more refined sense of craft, but it too uses cinema verite strategies to explore the harsh life on the streets of Medellin. Monica, a gutsy 13-year-old who looks 9, runs away from her shantytown home to join the city's wandering horde of homeless kids, who sniff glue and sell flowers and often their bodies. Gaviria believably melds the hard and undeniably real scenes of poverty and the images that represent Monica's drug-induced visions of her beloved dead grandmother arrayed as the Virgin Mary. To Gaviria's credit, there's nothing hokey in the narrative transitions between fantasy and reality, and his acute sensitivity to lighting gives Medellin a seductive beauty. (BS) (600 N. Michigan, 8:30)

The Hole

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 8:45)

Felice...Felice...

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 9:00)

Gone With the Train

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 9:00)

Totally Confused

A Chicago-made comedy set in Wicker Park about a gay guy who thinks he's in love with his straight best friend. Greg Pritikin and Gary Rosen, who've been writing together since fifth grade, wrote, directed, produced, and star. On the same program, a short film by Davidson Cole, The Sale. (Music Box, 9:00)

The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (Music Box, 9:00)

Tuesday, October 20

Man Is a Woman

See listing under Sunday, October 18. (600 N. Michigan, 6:15)

The Small Town

See listing under Saturday, October 17 (600 N. Michigan, 6:30)

The School of Flesh

Mystifyingly, always-interesting intellectual French filmmaker Benoit Jacquot appears to have lent his considerable skills to what amounts to a vanity production starring Isabelle Huppert (herself usually pretty interesting too). In this story of an older woman embroiled with a younger man (hot young hunk Vincent Martinez), she's an upper-class fashionista, with a severely decorated chic apartment and scads of money, and he's a lower-class, amoral bisexual hustler. Can this relationship be saved? (The embarrassingly sappy ending seems to have been written by Huppert.) Huppert's lipstick is always exquisitely applied, and Vincent Lindon does an over-the-top turn as a politically incorrect transvestite. Supposedly based on a novel by Yukio Mishima, this would have killed him. Fun only in a very guilty-pleasure sort of way--it's like consuming an entire box of chocolate-covered cherries. (MB) (600 N. Michigan, 6:30)

Falling Into the Evening

Naoe Gozu, who produced the haunting Maborosi, has chosen for her directorial debut a subject that seems central to much Asian cinema these days: life in the urban high-rise apartment. A minor film in a minor key, Falling Into the Evening has a peculiar twilight-suffused, spaced-out feel--almost a sense of anomie. When her boyfriend of four years dumps her, a lovely young schoolteacher struggles to reconstruct a life for herself in the apartment he's left her. Coming up with the rent is only one of the difficulties, since she's unable to make decisions as a solo act (when buying takeout, for instance, she orders whatever the person in front of her has chosen). Then "Miss Rabbit Ears," the self-absorbed, feckless free spirit for whom her boyfriend abandoned her, shows up on her doorstep, offering to share both the rent and the boyfriend. A curious menage a trois ensues as, in her attempts to get closer to her ex, the heroine becomes increasingly involved with her rival. On the surface this is a straightforward film, from the point of view of a gentle, relatively uncomplicated "straight" character. But it's one of the film's strengths that the apparent banality and passivity of the heroine's responses--no melodrama, no quirkiness--end up conferring enormous power on her. Her circumscribed stillness becomes the space where the flightier characters come home to roost. (RS) (600 N. Michigan, 6:45)

Aprile

See listing under Sunday, October 18. (Music Box, 6:45)

The Fourth Man

Based on a domestic best-seller by gay Dutch novelist Gerard Reve, this slick production by Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Spetters) spins its trick plot with enough speed and flash to keep audiences highly entertained. But beneath the supernatural inflections of this story--about a gay poet (Jeroen Krabbe) lured into a relationship with a witchlike hairstylist (Renee Soutendijk) by his hopes of seducing her hunky boyfriend--lie conceptions of women as castrating harpies and of gays as predatory beasts that are insulting to all the sexualities involved. It isn't often that I let reactionary attitudes spoil my enjoyment of essentially empty entertainments; if they did so here, it's probably because of the obnoxious assurance with which Verhoeven puts them across. (DK) (Music Box, 6:45)

Tropic of Emerald

See listing under Sunday, October 18. (600 N. Michigan, 8:30)

It's a Long Road

See listing under Sunday, October 18. (600 N. Michigan, 8:30)

Brother Tied

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 8:45)

World of Animation

See listing under Sunday, October 18. (Music Box, 8:45)

Toto Who Lived Twice

Sicilian filmmakers Daniele Cipri and Franco Maresco directed this blasphemous gross-out Italian sketch comedy, which sounds like There's Something About Mary with anti-Catholic inflections. (600 N. Michigan, 9:00)

Next Time

Race relations and friendship are the principal themes of writer-director Alan Fraser's feature-film debut. Set in South Central LA, this is essentially a two-character play that takes place almost exclusively in a laundromat. The story concerns a series of Saturday-night encounters between Evelyn, a middle-aged black woman, and Matt, a 19-year-old white kid who's just relocated from Ohio. These two seem to have little in common: Evelyn has lived in South Central her entire life and is raising a teenage son while caring for two infant granddaughters her other son, a drug dealer, has left in her care, while Matt has apparently come to LA to pursue a career as an artist. But Evelyn eventually warms up to Matt's naive advances, and a real friendship is forged. Fraser has an ear for extended dialogue, but he hasn't figured out how to render a script in cinematic terms--this is more a filmed play than a movie. Jonelle Allen and Christian Campbell give fine performances, covering over some of the film's shortcomings, and a couple of breathtakingly gritty telephoto shots of South Central are reminiscent of Charles Burnett. But Burnett uses the streets and neighborhoods of South Central as another character; Fraser has only grafted these images on. (JK) (Music Box, 9:00)

Wednesday, October 21

The Rose Seller

See listing under Monday, October 19. (600 N. Michigan, 6:00)

Falling Into the Evening

See listing under Tuesday, October 20. (600 N. Michigan, 6:30)

Totally Confused

See listing under Monday, October 19. (600 N. Michigan, 6:30)

Next Time

See listing under Tuesday, October 20. (Music Box, 6:30)

In the Presence of a Clown

This welcome return to filmmaking by Ingmar Bergman, originally broadcast on Swedish television, doesn't qualify as a major work, but as an auteurist piece it's indispensable. It was shot in digital beta video, which gives the images a flat, highly theatrical texture and severely restricts the formal possibilities of the material--the mise-en-scene seems claustrophobic and closed off. Fortunately, Bergman compensates with a smooth though intricate expositional style and a terrific story of magic, adventure, and the imagination, with sharply drawn characters inspired by his own family members. Carl Akerblom (Borje Ahlstedt), a genius inventor, has been locked up in a sanitarium for violently assaulting his girlfriend. Inspired by visions of a clown visiting him, he collaborates with another inmate (Erland Josephson) to create a "living talkie," a fascinating melding of film and live theater. Though In the Presence of a Clown lacks visual excitement, at its best it's a moving meditation on the birth of art. It also functions as a showcase for Bergman's brilliant company of stock actors; they're playful and inquisitive, displaying a profound need for expression and make-believe to fight against isolation and imposed restrictions. Works by Schubert, wonderfully performed by Kabi Laretei, are well integrated. (PM) (Music Box, 6:30)

Left Luggage

See listing under Saturday, October 17. (600 N. Michigan, 6:45)

Tate's Voyage

Tate's Voyage, by Dutch director Paula van der Oest, is a modern morality tale about sin, circumstance, and the possibility of redemption. The title character, a self-centered small-time thief, seizes a chance to get rich by purchasing a Russian cargo ship at a bargain price. Like most deals that sound too good to be true, this one turns sour, and only belatedly does Tate discover that, along with the dilapidated vessel and suspect cargo, he's assumed responsibility for a crew of 30 dejected and malnourished Russian sailors. At first he's ambivalent about their plight, but over time--especially in reaction to the indifference of Dutch officials--he comes to empathize with them. Unfortunately, the problems prove insurmountable--with the financial pressures increasing, Tate slowly loses everything he holds dear, including his benevolent girlfriend. Although it lacks a strong emotional punch and stylistic flair, this film--one of several commissioned recently on the theme of the approaching millennium--touches on a broad spectrum of socially urgent issues, from the growing influence of the Russian Mafia in western Europe to the callousness of today's affluent societies. (ZB) (600 N. Michigan, 8:30)

Leo the Last

Perhaps the most neglected of John Boorman's films, and certainly one of the strangest, this 1969 feature stars Marcello Mastroianni as a withdrawn Italian aristocrat who has a voyeuristic relationship with the residents of the black London ghetto where he lives, until he eventually emerges from his cocoon. Written by Boorman and William Stair, the film also features Billie Whitelaw and Calvin Lockhart. Steeped in the syntax of the swinging 60s even more than Boorman's previous Having a Wild Weekend and Point Blank, the film looks dated today, but interestingly and revealingly; and it shows a kind of originality and verve that has been Boorman's stock-in-trade from the beginning. (JR) (Music Box, 8:30)

Blue Moon

See listing under Friday, October 16. (Music Box, 8:30)

Toto Who Lived Twice

See listing under Tuesday, October 20. (600 N. Michigan, 9:00)

Best of the Festival 1

A prizewinning feature at this year's

festival; to be announced. (600 N. Michigan, 9:00)

The School of Flesh

See listing under Tuesday, October 20. (600 N. Michigan, 9:00)

In the Presence of a Clown

See listing under this date above. (Music Box, 9:00)

Thursday, October 22

Falling Into the Evening

See listing under Tuesday, October 20. (600 N. Michigan, 6:00)

Best of the Festival 2

A prizewinning feature at this year's

festival; to be announced. (600 N. Michigan, 6:00)

Eternity and a Day

Greek director Theo Angelopoulos is one of the most polarizing figures in international cinema. Winner of this year's top prize at Cannes, the Palme d'Or, in a unanimous vote, this film has only further divided his partisans and detractors. Those predisposed to his trademark aesthetic, with its long, elaborately choreographed shots, find it beautiful and elliptical. His disparagers regard it as jejune and inchoate, and much too similar to the work of Michelangelo Antonioni and Miklos Jancso to register with the power intended. Here the excellent Bruno Ganz (virtually unrecognizable) plays a prominent Greek poet who's still mourning the death of his wife as, now seriously ill, he leaves his beautiful coastal home to enter a hospital. One day he inadvertently saves the life of a young boy, an Albanian refugee threatened by a child-smuggling ring, and the two set off on a trip to locate the boy's relatives. The nearly invisible shift from past to present is haunting and beautiful, and Angelopoulos's handling of space, movement, and time is beguiling and emotionally resonant. His images soar. Yet if some of the parts are great, the film doesn't quite achieve greatness, in part because it feels like a collection of characters and ideas stitched together from earlier Angelopoulos films, including the children from Landscape in the Mist, the journey that's the central metaphor of The Travelling Players, and the way the past implicates the present in Ulysses' Gaze. Still, there's a great deal to rejoice in, particularly the masterly, plaintive Eleni Karaindrou score and the muted, somber photography of Yorgos Arvanitis and Andreas Sinani. Antonioni's key collaborator, Tonino Guerra, contributed to the script. This screening could be your only chance to view this compelling, essential work. (PM) (Music Box, 6:00)

Tate's Voyage

See listing under Wednesday, October 21. (600 N. Michigan, 6:15)

Best of the Festival 3

A prizewinning feature at this year's festival; to be announced. (600 N. Michigan, 6:30)

Central Station

An embittered middle-aged woman (Fernanda Montenegro) who lives alone in Rio de Janeiro and works in the central railway station writing letters for the illiterate poor, whom she generally despises, gets a new lease on life when she meets a nine-year-old boy whose mother has been run over by a bus. It's difficult to write or even think about such a movie without falling into sentimental cliches, and that gives me pause--though this film held my interest for two hours, even taking on an epic feel when it turns into a road movie. It's not bad by any means, but it also happens to resemble a lot of other movies. Walter Salles directed with a good sense of wide-screen open spaces. (JR) (Music Box, 8:30)

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