The Reader's Guide to the 42nd annual Chicago International Film Festival | Festival | Chicago Reader

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

PRICE $11 after 5 PM ($8 for Cinema/Chicago members), $6 weekday matinees (before 5 PM). Passes for multiple screenings also available. Special presentations are $15 ($12 for Cinema/Chicago members).

ADVANCE SALES Cinema/Chicago, 30 E. Adams, suite 800; Borders, 2817 N. Clark and 830 N. Michigan. By fax: 312-683-0122. By phone: 312-332-3456; Ticketmaster, 312-902-1500.

INFO 312-332-3456 or chicagofilmfestival.com

LISTINGS ONLINE chicagoreader.com

Friday, October 13

The Trials of Darryl Hunt

Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg's documentary concerns a black man who's wrongly convicted of rape and murder in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. 113 min. aRiver East, 4 PM

Taking Father Home

A 17-year-old travels from village to city looking for his father in this first feature (2005) by mainland Chinese director Ying Liang, who used friends and relatives as his cast and a borrowed video camera. In Mandarin with subtitles. 100 min. aRiver East, 4:30 PM

Shorts 1: Homegrown

Eight shorts by local artists Joe Fournier, Robert Postrozny and James Anderson, Chris Nelson, Sean Jourdan, Paul Cales, Justin Hayward, Jason Sandri, and Terry Kinney. 91 min. aRiver East, 4:30 PM

Syndromes and a Century

R The always unpredictable experimental Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Tropical Malady) offers a strange two-part movie with many rhyme effects that's based on memories of his parents, who were doctors. The first part, set in a rural clinic, focuses on his mother, and the second, set in a city hospital closer to the present, is about his father. Peter Sellars produced this as one of seven "New Crowned Hope" features celebrating the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth; the series also includes Tsai Ming-liang's first film set in his native Malaysia, I Don't Want to Sleep Alone, and Garin Nugroho's stunning Indonesian Opera Jawa, but regrettably neither film is showing at the festival. In Thai with subtitles. 105 min. (JR) aLandmark, 4:30 PM

Flannel Pajamas

Writer-director Jeff Lipsky dissects a marriage with the same seriousness as Ingmar Bergman or the young Mike Nichols, showing what can happen when a man partners with a woman who's not his equal. Justin Kirk (Angels in America, TV's Weeds) plays a successful Broadway promoter who weds an unsuccessful, emotionally fragile saleswoman (Julianne Nicholson) because he wants to protect her. She repays his patience and generosity by sulking, especially because she wants to start a family, a step he prefers to postpone. The script is overwritten and has too many themes--suicide, abuse, anti-Semitism--but Nicholson does remarkable work in an unsympathetic role, helped by Lipsky's fine control of his characters. 124 min. (AG) aLandmark, 5 PM

Jasmine Women

Hou Yong's 2004 feature from mainland China, based on Su Tong's novel Women's Lives, tells three separate stories and stars Zhang Ziyi and Joan Chen. In Mandarin with subtitles. 130 min. aLandmark, 5 PM

Host & Guest

A 2005 South Korean feature by writer-director Shin Dong-il (The Holy Family) about the friendship between a divorced film teacher and an evangelist who's a conscientious objector. In Korean with subtitles. 92 min. aLandmark, 5 PM

Rock the Bells

A Los Angeles hip-hop promoter tries to stage the first concert in six years by the legendary Wu-Tang Clan in this entertaining video documentary shot in 2004 by Casey Suchan and Denis Henry Hennelly. Suspense is provided by clan member Ol' Dirty Bastard, who's still in his hotel room at showtime, with an audience of 10,000 growing restless and violent at the concert hall (he died of a drug overdose four months later). This isn't about the verities of hip-hop so much as the chaos and confusion of mounting a big production with a slew of stoned MCs. 113 min. (PM) aRiver East, 6:30 PM

Change of Address

R Escapist fare for Francophiles, this light romantic comedy overcomes its frenzied setup and engenders smiles for its quartet of lovelorn, oddball Parisians. Writer-director Emmanuel Mouret stars as a hapless music teacher who rents a room from a curvy blond copy-shop owner (Frederique Bel, a Gallic version of Lisa Kudrow). She pines for a customer she barely knows, and he falls instantly for a taciturn younger student (knockout Fanny Valette, of La Petite Jerusalem), who blooms only after she meets a slick restaurateur (Dany Brillant). Deftly scripted and well acted, the movie's pleasures lie not so much in who winds up with whom, but the circuitous ways they get there. In French with subtitles. 85 min. (AG) aRiver East, 6:30 PM

God Willing

A first feature from Sweden by Amir Chamdin, set in the 70s, about a romance between two young immigrants, one of them married. In Swedish with subtitles. 87 min. aRiver East, 7 PM

Soul Kicking

Another apparently sadomasochistic Greek melodrama, this one focused on a factory worker and cuckold who's humiliated by most of the people around him. Yannis Economidis directed. In Greek with subtitles. 111 min. aLandmark, 7 PM

The Family Friend

Endlessly infatuated with its own cinematic flamboyance, Paolo Sorrentino's latest aims for profundity but has no more substance than the average flashy TV commercial. Known for haunted architectural landscapes and swooping camera movements, he delivers a character study of Geremia (played with appropriate oiliness by Giacomo Rizzo), a gargoylelike loan shark whose moral and physical hideousness is apparently intended to be some sort of oblique commentary on contemporary Italian corruption and self-deception. Geremia's loathsome seduction of a young bride saddled with debt--and her subsequent declaration of love for him--might be convincing if it were written with the political savvy of a Brecht or filmed with the moral insights of a Pasolini. But Geremia is a figure of grim pathos, and Sorrentino's attempt to transform his Machiavellian glee into a sentimental journey is as repellent as the character's scowling mug. In Italian with subtitles. 108 min. (RMP) aLandmark, 7 PM

Just Sex and Nothing Else

Krisztina Goda's 2005 comedy, a hit in its native Hungary, follows a desperate young woman who places a classified ad for "just sex and nothing else" after failing to find a husband and then begins to meet candidates. In Hungarian with subtitles. 90 min. aLandmark, 7:45 PM

Climates

As in his superb Distant (2003), this marital drama from Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan centers on a narcissistic photographer and his failed relationships. Here Ceylan casts himself in the main role and his real-life wife Ebru as his on-screen spouse, in a story about the corrosive effects of domination and neglect. One day on a beach the two decide to part, and soon he takes up with his former mistress. Their torrid sex scene, resembling a rape more than lovemaking, is clearly about his need to control, an obsession he feeds by tracking down his wife just when she has her life back on track. The husband learns nothing, and his monstrous behavior makes the movie relentlessly downbeat. No one, including the viewer, achieves catharsis. In Turkish with subtitles. 101 min. (AG) aLandmark, 8 PM

Shortbus

R The novelty of writer-director John Cameron Mitchell's bittersweet comedy drama is that it's full of hard-core sex, including such stunts as a guy giving himself a blow job, yet it's basically concerned with feelings and is touching throughout. The film grew out of the actors' improvisations, with the main focus on one straight and one gay couple who turn up at a New York salon called Shortbus, hosted by drag queen Justin Bond. The movie's main limitation is that each character seems formed around one idea, endlessly reiterated--a sex therapist who's never had an orgasm (Canadian broadcaster Sook-yin Lee), a dominatrix who wants to settle down and have a family, a lover in an open relationship who wants fidelity--so it runs out of energy before the end. 102 min. (JR) aRiver East, 8:30 PM

The Aura

The late Argentinean director Fabian Bielinsky follows up his hugely successful Nine Queens (2000) with another heist story, this one about a morose taxidermist (Ricardo Darin) who goes on a weekend hunting excursion with a buddy that leads to an accidental killing and then to a complicated plot to rob an armored truck. Unlike its high-octane predecessor, this is a somber, contemplative noir piece. While never boring and sometimes quite gripping, Bielinsky's manneristic style becomes distracting; he seems more concerned with generating an ominous atmosphere than with telling a compelling story. In Spanish with subtitles. 134 min. (RP) aRiver East, 9:15 PM

Face Control

A bouncer at a dance club in Athens, while suffering a midlife crisis, has an accident on Christmas Eve that he interprets as a religious sign. Vangelis Seitanidis directed his own script. In Greek with subtitles. 84 min. aLandmark, 9:15 PM

Princess

This mix of animation and live action is strictly for adults. After the sudden death of his porn-star sister, a missionary abandons his calling to take charge of her five-year-old daughter. The niece is understandably traumatized, but when her uncle discovers she's also been abused he goes on a violent rampage against the industry honchos who exploited mother and child. Like many Japanese anime features, the movie embraces a dark worldview, though here the emphasis is more on psychology than on action or social criticism. Following the tenets of Western tragedy, the flaws and actions of the would-be righteous hero determine the story's bleak outcome. Anders Morgenthaler directed. In Danish with subtitles. 78 min. (AG) aLandmark, 9:15 PM

The Host

R Quite possibly the wisest, most moving monster movie ever made, Bong Joon-ho's feature deservedly became South Korea's biggest ever box-office success. Six years after the U.S. army poisons Seoul's Han River, a giant lizardlike creature emerges and rampages along the banks. It may carry a lethal virus, one the U.S. decides it's responsible for eradicating. Among the monster's prisoners is a young girl, and her colorfully dysfunctional family--her narcoleptic father is mildly retarded, his educated brother full of resentment, the grandfather stubbornly conservative--must scheme against a repressive state apparatus to rescue her. Bong's film brilliantly mixes frights, gentle humor, outrageous Grand Guignol, and sharp political satire: you don't have to look hard to find a disquieting allegory about real terror, state-imagined terrorism, and local resistance. In Korean with subtitles. 119 min. (SK) aRiver East, 11 PM

Severance

For horror fans who crave a few laughs along with their ritual decapitations and limb severings. Director Christopher Smith sends a motley group of English and American employees of international arms dealers to a shabby hunting lodge in a remote Hungarian forest for a corporate bonding weekend, and things quickly turn grisly. Is the lodge haunted by its past incarnation as an insane asylum taken over by its inmates, or was it the site of a bloody massacre by eastern European soldiers? Both, it turns out. The intrepid employees have to deal with magic mushrooms, a bear (and a bear trap, in an excruciating sequence that sums up Smith's talent for blending ha-ha and horror), a spider, paintball, land mines, even a surface-to-air missile, along with the requisite guns, sharp objects, and homicidal madmen. 90 min. (MB) aLandmark, 11 PM

Saturday, October 14

Towards the Moon With Fellini

A documentary by Eugenio Cappuccio about Federico Fellini shooting his last feature, The Voice of the Moon (1990), whose script was improvised with comic actors Paolo Villaggio and Roberto Benigni. 58 min. Showing with a 21-minute Italian short, Matteo Servente's Run and Look. Both in Italian with subtitles. aRiver East, noon

Shorts 2: Animation Nations

Nine animated shorts from the UK, Australia, Sweden, the U.S., Switzerland, and Canada. 91 min. aRiver East, noon

Summer Palace

Director Lou Ye has been banned for five years from making films in China because of this one, his fourth feature, which didn't make it past the government censors. And it's hard to imagine how this landmark, taboo-breaking feature could, with its volatile mix of copious sex and oppositional politics. The film follows Yu Hong (played by vibrant new actress Hao Lei) and her girl- and boyfriends from the time they're admitted to a top Beijing university just before the violent 1989 democratic uprising, through the uprising's aftermath, and into their long, somewhat anticlimactic drift toward adulthood in Berlin, Wuhan, and Chongqing. Lou's mobile camera captures the flushed energy of the faces and bodies of beautiful youths in love with all the verve and commitment of the early French New Wave. In Mandarin and German with subtitles. 140 min. (SK) aLandmark, 1 PM

Pixar: An Afternoon

With Gary Rydstrom

Pixar Animation Studios director Gary Rydstrom, winner of several Oscars for his sound work, hosts a screening and discussion of four Pixar shorts and an early look at his own animated short Lifted. 90 min. aLandmark, 1:30 PM

Shoot the Messenger

R This cheeky BBC TV movie owes much to the high wattage of its theater-trained star, David Oyelowo, playing a black teacher in a London public school whose run-ins with an inner-city student cost him his job and drive him into a mad paranoia about other blacks. Through his eyes we get exaggerated views of one cultural stereotype after another, until the day he meets an attractive employment counselor. British-Nigerian director Ngozi Onwurah, who often has Oyelowo address the camera, realizes Sharon Foster's screenplay with brio and heaps of style, balancing social criticism and outrageous humor to create a compassionate, humanist fable. 90 min. (AG) aRiver East, 2 PM

Shorts 3: Crossroads

and Contrasts

Six short works from the U.S., Brazil, Chile, Iceland, and Spain. 90 min. aRiver East, 2 PM

Avenue Montaigne

Daniele Thompson's Gallic divertissement deftly orchestrates three simultaneous cultural events on the prestigious Avenue Montaigne. Behind each lurks a personal drama tied to the arts: an ailing businessman turned connoisseur (Claude Brasseur) sells off the extraordinary collection that was his raison d'etre; a feted concert pianist, stifled by highbrow elitism, yearns to share his music with the masses; and an overworked actress spends her days rehearsing a Feydeau farce, her nights shooting a popular soap, and her downtime angling to play Simone de Beauvoir in an American biopic. Effortlessly interlinking the stories through the jaunty perambulations of a fresh-faced waitress from a local cafe, Thomson's crowd-pleaser makes up in refined schmaltz what it lacks in innovation or profundity. In French with subtitles. 105 minutes. (RS) aLandmark, 2 PM

Madeinusa

Claudia Llosa's first feature, a Peruvian film that won a prize at the Rotterdam festival, is an odd, disturbing, fictional yet seemingly ethnographic tale about a stranger who wanders into a remote Peruvian mountain village where the locals celebrate the three-day Easter weekend by suspending all prohibitions. Much of the focus is on a fearless, determined 14-year-old girl, strikingly played by Magaly Solier. In Spanish with subtitles. 103 min. (JR) aRiver East, 3 PM

Only God Knows

This road movie masquerading as a love story is so reactionary it's loathsome. A Brazilian teacher (Alice Braga of Lower City) working in San Diego and involved with a married man finds herself stranded in Tijuana when her passport's stolen. She's "rescued" by a smitten Mexican journalist (Y Tu Mama Tambien's Diego Luna), who doesn't tell her he's found her passport so that she'll drive with him to the U.S. embassy in Mexico City. His religiosity doesn't deter him from plotting seduction, and she pays too dearly for their affair. Carlos Bolado, who codirected the documentary Promises, may have a great eye for landscape and local color, but the pretty images barely disguise the misogyny. In English and subtitled Spanish and Portuguese. 115 min. (AG) aLandmark, 3:30 PM

Dirt Nap

A first feature by actor D.B. Sweeney in which he stars with John C. McGinley and Paul Hipp; they play three down-and-out friends who jointly decide to fake their deaths and start their lives over. With Ed Harris and Moira Kelly. 95 min. aRiver East, 4 PM

Belle Toujours

R Manoel de Oliveira's sequel--or tribute, or speculative footnote--to Luis Bunuel and Jean-Claude Carriere's 1967 Belle de Jour differs from that transgressive classic by being less about Severine (played here by Bulle Ogier, in the original by Catherine Deneuve), a devoted wife who secretly works as a prostitute to fulfill her secret masochistic desires, and more about Henri Husson (Michel Piccoli in both films), a rakish aristocrat who discovers her secret. It's also more about class and less about sexual desire. Husson arranges a meeting with a reluctant Severine many decades later, and the 97-year-old writer-director stages their dinner like a lush religious ceremony, albeit one with a couple of witty and pungent punch lines. In French with subtitles. 70 min. (JR) aLandmark, 4 PM

God Willing

See listing under Friday, October 13. aLandmark, 4 PM

Tough Enough

German actor and sometime director Detlev Buck directed this award-

winning drama about a 15-year-old (David Kross) navigating his way through a crime-ridden, run-down neighborhood with a large number of Turkish immigrants. In German with subtitles. 98 min. aRiver East, 4:15 PM

Minor Revelations

A 55-minute film by writer-director Marie Vermillard described by the London film festival as a minimalist anthology of small vignettes composed of apparently unconnected and "significant--or perhaps, seemingly insignificant moments." In French with subtitles. aLandmark, 4:30 PM

The Unforgiven

Yoon Jong-bin's debut feature from South Korea follows childhood friends who find themselves divided by rank while fulfilling their compulsory military service. In Korean with subtitles. 126 min. aRiver East, 5:15 PM

Wristcutters: A Love Story

An inventive take on the road movie, this adaptation of a novella by Etgar Keret follows a young suicide (Patrick Fugit) who wakes up to a purgatory that looks like a lower-rent version of his life on earth. When he hears that his ex-girlfriend also has killed herself, he sets off to find her by driving cross-country with a failed Russian rock musician (Shea Whigham). Like some laid-back distant cousin of Tim Burton, writer-director Goran Dukic manages to balance the ghoulishness with whimsy and melancholy, at least for a while. But the strain is obvious in the story's last third, as the filmmaker struggles toward a resolution that fits the logic of the hero's netherworld. With Tom Waits and Shannyn Sossamon. 91 mins. (AG) aLandmark, 6 PM

Taxidermia

Gyorgi Palfi, who wrote and directed the 2002 Hukkle, directed and cowrote this Hungarian black comedy based on stories by Lajos Parti Nagy, about the son, father, and grandfather in a dysfunctional family. In Hungarian with subtitles. 91 min. aLandmark, 6 PM

The Trials of Darryl Hunt

See listing under Friday, October 13. aRiver East, 6:30 PM

Buzz

Though the festival schedule doesn't mention it, this 2005 German documentary in English by Spiro Taraviras is about A.I. Bezzerides, the Armenian-American novelist and screenwriter who was a close friend of William Faulkner's and was responsible for much of what's good or great about films such as They Drive by Night, Thieves' Highway, On Dangerous Ground, Track of the Cat, and Kiss Me Deadly. (An American documentary on the same subject was also released in 2005, The Long Haul of A.I. Bezzerides.) PG-13, 118 min. (JR) aRiver East, 6:30 PM

Babel

Unlike many colleagues, I'm not a fan of Amores Perros and 21 Grams, scripted by Guillermo Arriaga and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. This conclusion to their trilogy is easier to follow as a narrative, but it's even more pretentious, generalizing about the state of the modern world as it focuses on Moroccan peasants, American tourists (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett), their kids and Mexican servant in California, a single father in Tokyo (Koji Yakusho), and his crazed deaf-mute daughter. The filmmakers don't seem to understand or care much about many of these people, but they use them to unload ideas about violence, communication, and tribal misunderstandings--trading on suffering as they aim for cosmic wisdom. In English and subtitled Arabic, Berber, Japanese, and Spanish. R, 142 min. (JR) aThorne, 7 PM

Family Law

Completing his trilogy of tales about fatherhood, Argentinean director Daniel Burman (Lost Embrace) offers this pleasantly breezy drama about a young law professor's awkward relationship with his aging father (Arturo Goetz), a successful and beloved attorney whose dedication to his clients left little time for his son while he was growing up. Already struggling with his own identity as a new husband and father, the professor (Daniel Hendler) isn't sure how to respond when his father unexpectedly tries to draw closer. Engaging and well acted, the film is admirably low-key, yet Burman's relaxed approach becomes a liability--everything goes down smoothly but leaves one hungry for something more substantial. In Spanish with subtitles. 102 min. (RP) aLandmark, 7:30 PM

12:08 East of Bucharest

Winner of Cannes' Camera d'Or, Corneliu Porumboiu's comedy revisits Romania's 1989 revolution via the televised recollections of two people and viewers' responses. In Romanian with subtitles. 89 min. aRiver East, 8 PM

Paris, Je T'Aime

Most features composed of sketches by different filmmakers are wildly uneven. This one is consistently mediocre or slightly better, albeit pleasant and watchable. It helps that none of the episodes runs longer than five or six minutes. Many of the most famous areas of Paris--the Latin Quarter, the Champs-Elysees--are omitted, but Olivier Assayas, Gurinda Chadha, Sylvain Chomet, Joel and Ethan Coen, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuaron, Gerard Depardieu, Christopher Doyle, Vincenzo Natali, Alexander Payne, Bruno Podalydes, Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, Nobuhiro Suwa, Tom Tykwer, and Gus Van Sant, among others, do pretty well with their chosen parts of the city. In English and subtitled French. 116 min. (JR) aLandmark, 8 PM

Shortbus

R See listing under Friday, October 13. aLandmark, 8 PM

A Dirty Carnival

A South Korean crime thriller by writer-director Yoo Ha. In Korean with subtitles. 141 min. aLandmark, 8:15 PM

Rock the Bells

See listing under Friday, October 13. aRiver East, 9 PM

Soul Kicking

See listing under Friday, October 13. aRiver East, 9 PM

Triad Election

One of the many recent features by Hong Kong cult director Johnny To, this one a spin-off of his 2005 crime picture Election. In Mandarin and Cantonese with subtitles. 92 min. aRiver East, 11 PM

Paprika

This anime feature was adapted from a short story by Yasutaka Tsutsui, about a machine that allows its users to enter the dreams of others. Satoshi Kon (Tokyo Godfathers) directed. In Japanese with subtitles. 90 min. aLandmark, 11 PM

Sunday, October 15

Summercamp!

This documentary by Bradley Beesley and Sarah Price (American Movie) follows 90 kids at a Wisconsin nature camp, with music by the Flaming Lips. 85 min. aRiver East, noon

Shorts 2: Animation Nations

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, noon

No. 2

Ruby Dee stars in this New Zealand comedy drama, adapted by director Toa Fraser from his own play, about a matriarch planning a big dinner at which she'll name her successor as head of the family. 94 min. aRiver East, noon

Face Control

See listing under Friday, October 13. aLandmark, 1 PM

Intercom Winners

A program of industrial, educational, and corporate-sponsored films that were winners in Intercom's 42nd competition; they include works by cameraman Michael Lee, director Jim Fahy, and producer Caroline Bleahen. 120 min. aRiver East, 2 PM

Princess

See listing under Friday, October 13. aRiver East, 2 PM

The Italian

R This 2005 story about a Russian boy whose mother

has given him up may be derivative, but it's still engrossing, largely because of its appealing juvenile lead, Kolya Spiridonov. After the collapse of the Soviet regime, life

in the hinterlands is relentlessly grim for abandoned and orphaned children. Exploited by Dickensian profiteers, they turn to theft and prostitution to buy necessities yet remain supportive of those lucky enough to be placed in European homes, including Spiridonov's

character. The stark, mystical

beauty of the Russian landscape informs the people he encounters

on his journey to find his real

mother, and the film becomes

something of a portrait of a nation lumbering toward reinvention. Andrei Kravchuk directs with, thankfully, little sentimentality. In Russian with subtitles. PG-13, 99 min. (AG) aLandmark, 2 PM

Nina's Heavenly Delights

Predictable Scottish piffle about

Nina (Shelley Conn), a young

woman of Indian descent who returns home for her father's funeral and winds up in the middle of a

flap over the family restaurant. It seems the father left the business in serious debt, giving the family few options beyond selling it to a competitor. But Nina's quick thinking and culinary prowess come to the rescue, and she enters the restaurant in a prestigious, nationally televised curry competition. Along the way she finds romance, people break into spontaneous song and dance, valuable lessons about

tolerance are learned, and the film wallows in just about every tired cinematic cliche about ethnic

food and passion. Directed by Pratibha Parmar. 96 min. (RP) aLandmark, 2:30 PM

Buzz

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aLandmark, 3 PM

Climates

See listing under Friday, October 13. aRiver East, 3:45 PM

Shoot the Messenger

R See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, 4 PM

Aviva My Love

A drama about a woman (Assi Levy) in northern Israel who's supporting her husband and kids as a hotel cook and must decide whether to sell the rights to her first novel to an over-the-hill academic. In Hebrew with subtitles. 107 min. aRiver East, 4 PM

Just Sex and Nothing Else

See listing under Friday, October 13. aLandmark, 4 PM

Summer Palace

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aLandmark, 4:15 PM

The Aura

See listing under Friday, October 13. aLandmark, 5 PM

King and the Clown

Jun-ik Lee's 2005 feature was adapted from a play about two clowns during the Chosun dynasty attempting to stave off execution by making the king laugh. In Korean with subtitles. 119 min. aLandmark, 5:30 PM

Suburban Mayhem

A snotty crime romp in the Tarantino vein, this Australian feature stars sexy Emily Barclay as a teenage bitch on wheels whose vicious brother draws a life sentence for decapitating a convenience-store cashier with a samurai sword. Determined to appeal his conviction but short of the necessary cash, she resolves to get the deed to her father's suburban house and enlists first her boyfriend and then the brother's dim-witted pal in a plot to murder daddy. This is pretty good fun until the last act, when the characters are briefly chastened by the blood on their hands; any idiot could tell them it's only red dye and corn syrup. Music-video veteran Paul Goldman directed. 89 min. (JJ) aRiver East, 6 PM

Son of Man

Set in a fictional contemporary African country ravaged by war, Mark Dornford-May's South African feature tells the story of a present-day Jesus Christ who arrives preaching pacifism. In English and subtitled Xhosa. 86 min. aRiver East, 6:15 PM

Starter for Ten

David Nicholls adapts his own novel in this romantic comedy from the UK about a working-class student attending an upper-class university in Bristol in the mid-80s. Tom Vaughan directed. 96 min. aRiver East, 6:30 PM

Waiter

What begins as a vaguely comic portrait of a put-upon middle-aged server quickly turns surreal when it cuts to the screenwriter, who's ostensibly in the throes of creating the story we're watching. Edgar, the title character (played by writer-director Alex van Warmerdam), eventually shows up at the home of the writer to ask for more fun, more sex, less tragedy. "You can't barge in here--you're fictitious," he's told, echoing Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo and the influential (and more layered) works of

screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). There's also an eerie similarity to Marc Forster's Stranger Than Fiction (to be released commercially in November). Input from the screenwriter's cranky girlfriend and his unruly characters leads to plot shifts, and the end results demonstrate the pitfalls of writing by committee. In Dutch with subtitles. 97 min. (MB) aLandmark, 6:30 PM

Days of Glory

Four North African men enlist in the French army to fight the Nazis in Rachid Bouchareb's French-Algerian feature; the male leads collectively won the best-actor prize at Cannes. In French with subtitles. 120 min. aThorne, 7 PM

Midnight My Love

A Bangkok taxi driver obsessed with a radio show devoted to golden oldies starts to become attached to one of his customers, a high-priced prostitute. Kongdej Jaturanrasamee directed. In Thai with subtitles. 104 min. aLandmark, 7:15 PM

Triad Election

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, 8 PM

La Terra

Returning to his hometown from Milan, a middle-aged professional (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) tries to mediate an ongoing feud between two of his three brothers but only gets drawn in. Writer-director Sergio Rubini creates a fair amount of tension in the first half of this Italian drama, as he delineates the turbulent relationships between the four very different men. But after a murder is committed the film devolves into a fairly standard whodunit with an irritatingly tidy resolution. Rubini, a veteran character actor, casts himself as a sleazy, violent loan shark and gives a memorably menacing performance. With Paolo Briguglia, Massimo Venturiello, and Emilio Solfrizzi. In Italian with subtitles. 112 min. (JK) aLandmark, 8 PM

The Wake

A cop on the run after an accidental shooting shows up at the home of his estranged brother, an Orthodox priest, and the two hit the road

in search of an underworld figure. Nikos Grammatikos directed

this 2005 Greek drama. In Greek with subtitles. 105 min. aLandmark, 8 PM

In Bed

Blanca Lewin and Gonzalo Valenzuela star as a couple who meet by chance, have sex, and otherwise relate in Matias Bize's Chilean feature, set entirely in a hotel room. In Spanish with subtitles. 85 min. aRiver East, 8:15 PM

Slumming

R Sebastian and Alex are two smarmy upper-middle-class jerks who enjoy "slumming":

mocking and playing practical

jokes on people they find in lower-class Viennese hangouts. Pia is a serious-minded primary school teacher who finds Sebastian online. Kallmann is a middle-aged failed poet and abusive drunk--repulsive, borderline schizophrenic, yet strangely lovable. For a lark, the jerks kidnap Kallmann, who's passed out on a bench, and deposit him unconscious in a Czech border town. Darkly humorous, with a black, Mitteleuropa edge and dialogue that comes screwball-comedy fast, the film combines an edgy class consciousness with a propulsive narrative and quiet touches of fancy (Bambi, floating gnomes, a Javanese chorus line), and the spare, elegant photography gives the characters space to come to life. Austrian dystopic realism has never been this fun. Michael Glawogger directed. In German with subtitles. 100 min. (SK) aRiver East, 8:30 PM

Barrio Cuba

Cuban filmmaker Humberto Solas (Lucia) tells three unconnected stories set in Havana's suburban slums in this 2005 feature. In Spanish with subtitles. 105 min. aLandmark, 8:30 PM

Monday, October 16

Son of Man

See listing under Sunday, October 15. aRiver East, 4 PM

Aurore

For his first fiction feature, actor and documentarian Nils Tavernier filmed a modern ballet at the Opera National de Paris about a princess from a poor country where dance is forbidden. In French with subtitles. 97 min. aRiver East, 4 PM

12:08 East of Bucharest

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aLandmark, 4 PM

The Family Friend

See listing under Friday, October 13. aLandmark, 4 PM

Days of Glory

See listing under Sunday, October 15. aLandmark, 4 PM

Avenue Montaigne

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, 5 PM

Towards the Moon With Fellini

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, 6 PM

Only God Knows

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, 6 PM

No. 2

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

Slumming

R See listing under Sunday, October 15. aLandmark, 6 PM

Nina's Heavenly Delights

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

Midnight My Love

See listing under Sunday, October 15. aLandmark, 6:30 PM

The Fountain

A pretentious, unfocused, and fussy mess, in which director Darren Aronofsky manages to make Hugh Jackman unattractive and unsympathetic, whether he's stumbling through the jungle looking for the Tree of Life in the 16th century, weeping for his dying wife while trying to find a cure for her cancer in the present, or bobbing around as an astronaut in some inexplicable golden 26th-century future. Rachel Weisz (in real life the mother of Aronofsky's baby son) is photographed in extreme close-up to look like an angel, but she too suffers from the underbaked, incoherent script, whether playing Queen Isabel, Jackman's 16th-century patron, or his cancer-stricken wife, who's trying to finish writing a fablelike novella entitled The Fountain. Even fans of Aronofsky's incoherent, flashy Pi and somewhat more coherent, flashy Requiem for a Dream will be scratching their heads. R, 96 min. (MB) aThorne, 7 PM

The Unforgiven

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, 7:30 PM

Taking Father Home

See listing under Friday, October 13. aRiver East, 8 PM

Wristcutters: A Love Story

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aLandmark, 8:15 PM

La Terra

See listing under Sunday, October 15. aLandmark, 8:15 PM

Barrio Cuba

See listing under Sunday, October 15. aRiver East, 8:30 PM

Taxidermia

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aLandmark, 8:30 PM

Belle Toujours

R See listing under Saturday, October 14. aLandmark, 9 PM

Tuesday, October 17

Taking Father Home

See listing under Friday, October 13. aRiver East, 4 PM

Shorts 4: Moment of Impact

Eight short works from the U.S., the UK, and Hong Kong. 88 min. aRiver East, 4 PM

A Dirty Carnival

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, 5:30 PM

Aurore

See listing under Monday, October 16. aRiver East, 6 PM

Madeinusa

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aLandmark, 6 PM

Shoot the Messenger

R See listing under Saturday,

October 14. aRiver East,

6:30 PM

Summer Palace

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aLandmark, 6:30 PM

Suzanne

An aging writer (Patrick Bauchau of The State of Things) who has lost his wife and child falls in love with a younger woman in this French feature by Viviane Candas. In French with subtitles. 92 min. aLandmark, 6:30 PM

God Willing

See listing under Friday, October 13. aLandmark, 7 PM

Liza Minnelli:

Her Films, Her Life

English critic John Russell Taylor pays tribute to the singer, dancer, and actress, interviewing her live and showing clips. aThorne, 7 PM

Aviva My Love

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

Host & Guest

See listing under Friday, October 13. aLandmark, 8:15 PM

DarkBlueAlmostBlack

R It's a credit to writer-director Daniel Sanchez Arevalo that this comedy drama, his first feature film, maintains a light, breezy tone even as it takes on ethical issues. Quim Gutierrez stars as a twentysomething working a dead-end job as a janitor while caring for his invalid father. His incarcerated older brother desperately wants to impregnate his girlfriend, and when he discovers he's impotent he enlists his sibling, cautioning him not to get emotionally involved. Of course complications ensue, increased by the younger brother's budding romance with a previously unrequited love. Shot primarily in close-up, which enhances the story's warm intimacy, this is a solid debut. With Antonio de la Torre and Marta Etura. In Spanish with subtitles. 105 min. (JK) aRiver East, 8:30 PM

Severance

See listing under Friday, October 13. aLandmark, 8:30 PM

Taxidermia

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, 8:45 PM

Triad Election

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aLandmark, 9 PM

In Bed

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

Wednesday, October 18

Jasmine Women

See listing under Friday, October 13. aRiver East, 1:30 PM

Shorts 3: Crossroads and Contrasts

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, 3 PM

Barrio Cuba

See listing under Sunday, October 15. aRiver East, 4 PM

Waiter

See listing under Sunday, October 15. aLandmark, 4 PM

Son of Man

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

Aurore

See listing under Monday, October 16. aLandmark, 4:30 PM

In Bed

See listing under Sunday, October 15. aLandmark, 5 PM

Aviva My Love

See listing under Sunday, October 15. aLandmark, 5 PM

A Dirty Carnival

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, 5:15 PM

Host & Guest

See listing under Friday, October 13. aRiver East, 6:15 PM

Wristcutters: A Love Story

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, 6:15 PM

Slumming

R See listing under Sunday, October 15. aLandmark, 6:30 PM

DarkBlueAlmostBlack

R See listing under Tuesday, October 17. aLandmark, 7 PM

Paprika

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aLandmark, 7 PM

Chicago

The original, silent 1927 film of the Roxie Hart story was adapted from the Maurine Watkins play of the previous year, with Phyllis Haver as Roxie and Eugene Pallette as Rodney Casley. Directed by Frank Urson for the C.B. De Mille studio, it was recently restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. 90 min. aThorne, 7 PM

The Host

R See listing under Friday, October 13. aLandmark, 7:30 PM

Street Thief

Malik Bader's documentary follows a professional burglar, Chicagoan Kaspar Carr. 86 min. aRiver East, 8:30 PM

Nina's Heavenly Delights

See listing under Sunday, October 15. aRiver East, 8:30 PM

Family Law

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aRiver East, 8:30 PM

Madeinusa

See listing under Saturday, October 14. aLandmark, 8:45 PM

Starter for Ten

See listing under Sunday, October 15. aLandmark, 9 PM

Retribution

A mystery thriller by Japanese cult director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cure, Pulse), with Kurosawa regular Yakusho Koji among the cast members. In Japanese with subtitles. 103 min. aLandmark, 9:15 PM

Thursday, October 19

Best of the Fest

Winners of the festival jury awards, announced October 15. For titles, venues, and times see chicagofilm festival.com.

Venus

Peter O'Toole stars as an actor who develops a painful mentorlike relationship with the 19-year-old grandniece (Jodie Whittaker) of a longtime friend (Leslie Phillips). Roger Michell (Persuasion) directed this English feature from a script by Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Laundrette); Vanessa Redgrave stars as O'Toole's former wife. R, 95 min. aRiver East, 8 PM

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