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Chicago International Film Festival

The Movies October 15-21

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Friday 15 October

Kazoku Cinema

Loosely based on the best-selling novel by Korean-Japanese author Yu Miri, this film tells the story of a whacked-out Korean family who with some trepidation allow a film crew to shoot their everyday lives for the purpose of making a fictionalized documentary. Familial tensions wreak havoc on the production from the outset. The parents haven't been together for years, can't stand the sight of each other, and immediately slip back into their acrid quarreling. Daughter Yoko works as a porn actress and her brother, Kazuki, apparently suffers from autism. Outbursts from family members constantly disrupt the proceedings, until it becomes difficult to distinguish scripted dialogue from cacophonous improvisation. This is another example of the edgy, confessional cinema that's been gushing forth from the East lately, especially Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China, and both North and South Korea. Director Park Chul-soo generates both comedy and drama from the improbability of capturing reality on film, recalling both the infamous PBS documentary on the Loud family from the early 70s and Albert Brooks's excellent Real Life. (JK) (Water Tower upstairs, 3:45)

Yana's Friends

More than a million Soviet Jews have emigrated to Israel during the past decade, but integrating into Israeli society hasn't been easy for them. Several good contemporary Israeli fiction films, among them Coffee With Lemon and The Distance, have poignantly addressed the problems faced by these immigrants, but Yana's Friends isn't among them. Written and directed by Arik Kaplun, himself a Russian emigre, this overly contrived and broadly comic film focuses on a group of immigrants in a Tel Aviv neighborhood during the gulf war. Yana (played by Kaplun's wife, Evlyn) is a melancholy blond with a heart-melting smile who's left pregnant and in debt when her scheming husband absconds to Russia with their immigration grant money. Her vulnerability and waiflike good looks arouse the protective (and other) instincts of her womanizing neighbor Eli. Yana's story is intercut and gradually connected with that of another newly arrived couple, vulgar strivers who exploit their wheelchair-bound war-hero grandfather by parking him, hat in hand, next to a street musician. Yana and Eli's response to gas masks and sealed rooms may inspire a few laughs, but this sex-and-death territory too has been covered better in other films. (AS) (Water Tower downstairs, 3:45)

Love Will Tear Us Apart

The first feature of cinematographer Yu Lik-wai is a sharply etched portrait of the desperation and longing of four immigrant outsiders adjusting to the rapidly changing culture of contemporary Hong Kong following the end of British rule. As storytelling the movie is choppy and fragmented, but as a succession of images yielding a very specific time and place, it's potent and compelling. Ah Ying has drifted into petty crime and prostitution. Ah Jian--who's involved in an unsatisfying relationship with Ah Yan, a young woman whose promising dance career was halted by recurring foot injuries--operates a porn shop frequented by Ah Chun, a morose loner. Their stories never merge into a deeper, fluid whole, but the social context is admirably developed--Lik-wai's Hong Kong is harsh and bleak, a place ruled by a Darwinian social order that treats the displaced and marginalized brutally. The artificial brightness of a 7-Eleven and understated, ominous images of porn-district squalor underline the characters' fears, desires, and frustrations in a world with no easy resolutions. (PZM) (Water Tower downstairs, 4:00)

Checkpoint

In Alexander Rogozhkin's excellent microcosmic war film, set somewhere in the Caucasus (Chechnya's a good guess), a handful of soldiers are stuck in the middle of a hostile landscape with no clear objective. As in classic Hollywood rear-guard war pics, each baby-faced recruit is given a distinguishing mark, a quasi-heraldic emblem--one has a foxtail affixed to his helmet, one has a dog named Castro, one a pet rat that rides on his shoulder. At the film's opening they're shot at by the mother of a little boy who's been killed by a land mine; panicking, they fire back. As punishment, the patrol is sent to an isolated checkpoint whose sole claim to military importance seems to be the sniper trying to wipe it out. The first casualty, the pet rat, receives a solemn funeral and daily roses on its grave. Basically, these are good kids--clueless but sort of sweet. They can no more understand the lethal hatred of which they're the object than the fatal consequences of their own actions. They trade grenades and bullets for grass or sexual favors, never stopping to think that those same bullets might be shot back at them. Pissed off at being cheated by a local villager, they set a booby trap, only to be shocked when it blows off an old man's hand and kills two sheep. The small-scale intimacy, the naturalness of the dialogue and performances, the sense of time that contracts and expands, and the desultory nature of the proceedings make what's being done to and by these soldiers all the harder to swallow. The Russian Revolution started as an antiwar movement; it's taken a while for Russian cinema to return to its roots. (RS) (Water Tower upstairs, 6:15)

Not of This World

This is a film of muted colors--of grays and blues and beiges--and of equally muted emotions. There are no grand gestures or dramatic revelations, yet in its own understated way, Giuseppe Piccioni's Milanese character study shows how the possibility of change can hit you like a ton of bricks. A stunned jogger stumbles on a sweater-wrapped baby in a park, drops it into the arms of a passing nun, and scurries off, his part in any potential drama over. But for the nun, who's on the verge of taking her final vows, and for the man who owns the sweater, the commedia has just begun. An odd friendship develops between the nun, whose fierce attachment to someone else's baby puts her vocation in question, and the putative father, an uptight owner of a dry-cleaning shop who can't even remember the names of the handful of girls who work for him. But this isn't a couple film. There's the story of the baby's mother, and of her ex-boyfriend the cop, and her new job in a restaurant, and her fellow waiters and waitresses, and the diners in the restaurant, etc, etc. Scattered through the free-form interactions are time-arresting group poses--of nuns, workers, friends, families--that put main characters, secondary characters, incidental characters, and even total strangers in temporary social clusters that chart the film's curiously collectivistic journey. It's a trip worth taking. (RS) (Water Tower upstairs, 6:30)

Valerie Flake

Valerie (Susan Traylor) is still reeling from the death of her husband, though her family thinks she ought to be over it by now. Once a painter with an academic position, she's started working in an LA grocery store, where she declines a promotion. After driving her husband's old VW bus to Palm Springs, she meets Tim (Jay Underwood), who's desperate to become more than a one-night stand. This darkly comic, exceptionally moving character study has drama, revelation, and expertly drawn secondary characters, but its power comes from Traylor's fearless, idiosyncratic performance and a deeply expressionist production design that makes nearly every object as evocative as the desert landscape where Valerie tries to paint again. John Putch directed a screenplay by Robert Tilem; with songs by Kathleen Wilhoite. (LA) (Water Tower downstairs, 6:30)

Gangland

Pegue Gallaga and Lore Rayes directed this Filipino thriller, described as evocative of Quentin Tarantino, about four boys who join forces against a drug dealer. (Water Tower downstairs, 7:00)

My Little Business

The title refers to a journeyman woodworking shop that's been in the hero's family for years. So when it goes up in flames early in the film it seems that not only are the hero's finances at stake but a whole way of life. He's insured--or he should be, except that his agent, a good buddy, also happens to be a crook. But with a little help from his friends he can break into the insurance company and retroactively register his policy. In this well-paced comic caper movie, veteran director Pierre Jolivet stacks the deck with the skill of a Reno dealer. The hero is a regular guy who not only eats, drinks, and jokes with his workers, but even manages to stay friends with his ex-wife and her live-in Arab boyfriend. The embezzling villain turns out to be an orphan in search of his Russian roots. The crime is victimless--who can consider an insurance company a victim? The actors are superb--funny, believable, and capable of turning any line into a seemingly spontaneous eruption of Gallic eccentricity. But there's nothing spontaneous in making a self-congratulatorily craftsmanlike French indie version of a male-bonding Hollywood action flick. The means of production may be different, but the macho mentality is the same. It only proves that whether they're Americans earnestly blowing away bad guys or French suavely seducing their homely secretaries into taking the fall, boys will be boys. (RS) (Music Box, 7:00)

Sex, Shame and Tears

Writer-director Antonio Serrano cut his teeth in the hot-blooded world of Mexican soap opera; his feature film debut is a slick comedy-drama about two couples riven by the reappearance of a long-lost love. Ugly duckling Maria sleeps with hunky, coke-snorting yuppie Tomas despite her sympathy for his put-upon wife, Ana. Across the street, sex-starved Andrea betrays intellectual Miguel with free-spirited Carlos. War between the sexes erupts, and the boys camp out in Miguel's apartment while the girls bunk at Ana's, the players alternately bickering with and consoling each other and sneaking over to the other side for more romantic entanglements. True to his roots, Serrano wants to moralize and titillate at the same time, and his stereotypical characters' overheated emotions tend to prevent any narrative consistency. (LG) (Water Tower upstairs, 7:00)

Bounce

Based on the real-life experience of coproducer and costar Walter Velasquez, Bounce is a gritty low-budget indie dealing with life in the South Bronx. Director Adam Watstein met Velasquez while both were working at a children's after-school sports program; the project was sparked when Walter's best friend (played in the film by Jamal Mackey) was gunned down shortly after the two had secured a recording deal. Shot over the course of a year--four shoots over four seasons--using a skeleton crew and a nonprofessional cast, Watstein's film is amiably unvarnished. Some of the acting is uneven, but Watstein gets several arresting performances from his cast, notably Velasquez and Mackey. Using a methodology reminiscent of Cassavetes, Watstein initially withheld his script from the cast during rehearsals, insisting that they articulate a given scene in their own words before introducing the dialogue he'd written. The effort has paid off: Bounce is much more successful than most other films that deal with daily life in the projects. (JK) (Music Box, 7:30)

Pups

This low-budget American movie about kids with guns is nothing if not topical: it premiered at the LA independent film festival two days before the Columbine shootings. A disaffected 13-year-old (Cameron Van Hoy), bored with videotaping his suicide attempts, robs a bank with his girlfriend because he finds a gun. Director Ash seems fascinated by the sudden ascent to power and visibility of those who were formerly impotent and invisible (his previous film, Bang, concerned a knocked-around starlet who gets a taste of power when she dons a cop's stolen uniform). The kids come off fairly well. The boy's shrill role-playing reflects both his pubescent self-consciousness and his uncertainty about his place in society, an uncertainty further fueled by watching his life unfold on TV through old home-movie footage and interviews with his friends and neighbors. The girl (Mischa Barton of Lawn Dogs and The Sixth Sense) is more graceful in her startling mood transitions, as befits her more passive, less alienated role. But the adults, hostages in interminable interaction with the kids and one another, are god-awful, their characters poorly written and indifferently acted (though Burt Reynolds does a decent if boring star turn as a caring FBI agent). The waste this represents is brought home in the one adult-kid interaction that does work--a long, fascinating interview session between sardonic MTV host Kurt Loder (playing himself) and the pint-size Bonnie and Clyde wannabes as they try to put their inchoate desires into words. (RS) (Water Tower upstairs, 8:30)

1999 Madeleine

This is the first episode of Laurent Bouhnik's series "10 films/10 ans," but like the works in Rohmer's and Kieslowski's series, it can stand on its own. Madeleine (the oddly beautiful Vera Briole), a rather clueless seamstress, doesn't completely understand what's going on with the unhappy dressmaker she's working for or with the men she meets through personal ads or by chance, but she doggedly continues trying to meet somebody--anybody--believing that love will somehow transform her gray existence. She's never read E.M. Forster or much of anything else, except horoscopes and the instructions for the vacuum cleaner she buys because she's attracted to the salesman, but "only connect" is her motto nonetheless. In her eyes, even a random groping on the bus might lead to a relationship. Compulsively watchable and beautifully acted by Briole and Anouk Aimee, who gives a chilling performance as Madeleine's troubled mother, this film leaves you satisfied but wanting more. (MB) (Water Tower downstairs, 8:45)

Heroes in Tyrol

The self-proclaimed "Alpine rock musical," full of singing and belching, is here. This film by Austrian iconoclast Niki List--known for equally cheeky productions such as Cafe Malaria and Muller's Office--spoofs that Teutonic genre, the mountain film. All trace of finer sensibilities is banished in favor of a glut of gross, easy laughs. Set in the Alpine equivalent of Dogpatch, the film chronicles the quest of Max, the cunning local hero with a touch of cretinous stupidity, to win the hand of coy perennial virgin Emma. But first Max must thwart evil developers who plan to transform his beloved village into a Tyrolean theme park. The plentiful goofy musical numbers are, for the most part, hard-rocking fun. At a screening at Cannes three-quarters of the audience was out the door after the first round of fart jokes; the remainder had a whale of a time. (BS) (Water Tower upstairs, 9:00)

East Is East

Stage is stage and screen is screen and never the twain shall meet--unless one puts a hell of a lot of thought into it. Unfortunately, Damien O'Donnell hasn't in his plunked-down-on-celluloid adaptation of Ayub Khan-Din's London-to-off-Broadway hit comedy East Is East. Om Puri stars as a Pakistani patriarch in 1971 mod England who realizes late in the game that his five sons and daughter have slipped beyond his cultural control. His frantic attempts to bring his swinging brood back to the rigid standards of Islamic purity that he--the proprietor of a fish-and-chips shop in Manchester with a salt-of-the-earth English wife of 25 years--has never adhered to himself provide most of the film's cross-cultural gags and tensions. Puri is a brilliant actor. One has only to see him in a somewhat similar role in Udayan Prasad's My Son the Fanatic to realize what he can do with a performance that isn't pitched, along with everything else in the frame, to the second balcony. For O'Donnell tones down nothing for the camera. The two girls Puri arranges to have his middle sons marry aren't merely dutiful sari-wearing strangers, they're the kind of cross-eyed, bucktoothed caricatures of feminine unattractiveness that went out with mother-in-law jokes. Up close, all sorts of stage exaggerations that from a distance might have appeared dramatic or farcical look cheap and grotesque, with an over-the-top theatricality that always seems reserved on-screen for gays and ethnic others. Yet ultimately East Is East is far less insulting to Pakistanis or Mancunians than it is to its audience. (RS) (Music Box, 9:30)

Nothing

Dorota Kedzierzawska's first two films, Devils, Devils and Crows, were popular on the international festival circuit, and it's easy to see why. She and her trusted cinematographer, Arthur Reinhart, create almost magical worlds full of tinted imagery and diffused light--all achieved entirely through imaginative use of the camera. Kedzierzawska is also rightly praised for her on-screen work with young children, including many preschoolers. Nothing, her most recent feature, is a tragic story that centers on an abused wife (Anita Borkowska-Kuskowska in a powerful performance) who's forced to hide her pregnancy from her irascible husband and the couple's three young children, who are deeply affected by their parents' tribulations. The photography is mesmerizing, but the film's emotional impact is uneven. Much too often there's an unsettling discord between the beauty of the dreamlike images and the darkness of the story. (ZB) (Water Tower upstairs, 9:30)

The Story of Ah

Joel C. Lamangan directed this Filipino melodrama about a mute woman forced into a brutal marriage. (Water Tower downstairs, 9:30)

Mutinous Shorts

Short films from the U.S., Switzerland, New Zealand, and Brazil. (Music Box, 10:00)

Saturday 16 October

Heroes in Tyrol

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower upstairs, 1:15)

Ave Maria

Her mother was Indian, her father a Spanish duke whose wealth and status enable Maria to live in a mission in New Spain without taking her vows. There she masters botany, astronomy, and cartography, directing the monks in making maps of the region. Threatened by her autonomy and anxious to exploit her father's fortune, the priests put an end to her studies, nearly driving her insane. But the loss of a secular purpose inspires an epiphany, and she begins using her knowledge and skill to ease the suffering of the indigenous people--frustrating the priests and angering the conquistadores, whose goals are furthered by the spread of disease. Much of the power of this fictional hagiography, a disarmingly feminist examination of colonialism that's as intricate visually as it is thematically, comes from the complexity of the allegorical characters; with one exception, no one is merely self-interested or selfless. Eduardo Rossoff directed a screenplay by Camille Thomasson; with Tere Lopez Tarin. (LA) (Water Tower upstairs, 2:00)

1999 Madeleine

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower downstairs, 2:15)

Checkpoint

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower downstairs, 2:30)

Games & Patterns: Short Films About Youth

Short films from Mexico, Ireland, India, Korea, and the U.S. (Music Box, 2:45)

The Love of Three Oranges

A small gem, this film marks the directorial debut of Taiwanese writer and theater director Hung Hung, the pen name of Hung-ya Yen. Hung, who cowrote Edward Yang's A Confucian Confusion and his extraordinary A Brighter Summer Day, has created a deceptively simple chamber piece about a love triangle between three young Taipei residents. JJ (Jiunn-jye Lee), recently back from military service and unhappily employed delivering pizzas, rekindles a relationship with a former girlfriend (Angela Ma), only to discover that she's romantically involved with her female college roommate (Wei-chi Chen). The relationships are marked by an awkward emotional ambivalence that's rarely acknowledged by the characters but conveyed wonderfully through Hung's use of space, framing, and music (a fine original score by Chi-ling Liu). Running just under an hour, The Love of Three Oranges is a brief snapshot of intersecting lives that captures the power of unexpressed emotions with quiet poignancy. (RP) (Music Box, 3:00)

Nothing

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower upstairs, 3:00)

East Is East

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower upstairs, 3:45)

The Little Girl Who Sold The Sun and Le Franc

The film world lost a giant when Senegalese master Djibril Diop Mambety (Touki Bouki, Hyenas) died last year. His final work--the second short of an unfinished trilogy titled "Tales of Little People"--is simple but evocative, more fabulistic and less pessimistic than his features. Sili (Lissa Balera) is a rebellious, paraplegic ten-year-old who decides to earn a living by hawking the newspaper Le soleil on the streets of Dakar rather than begging alongside her blind grandmother. As the only female in the business, she's constantly being picked on by competing newsie hoodlums, though with help she prevails. In this beautifully photographed hymn to the courage of street children, Mambety mixes rural and urban images (persistently returning to a shot of a skyscraper) to show workers of unequal means in a country that's in the process of modernizing. Music plays an important role in his vision (the score is by his younger brother, Wasis Diop), with an occasional dance scene emphasizing Sili's vibrancy. The film is emblematic of Mambety's vision of a resourceful, self-reliant, but cooperative Africa that's antagonistic to the cutthroat competition of the market. (MP) On the same program, Mambety's Le franc, a 45-minute film from 1994 in which a penniless musician wins a lottery. Jonathan Rosenbaum writes, "This isn't up to the level of Mambety's extraordinary Touki Bouki or Hyenas, but it's highly distinctive and creditable all the same." (Water Tower upstairs, 4:15)

The Tavern

Ronnie and Dave, a couple of palookas nearing middle age, decide to buy a highly successful Manhattan tavern for $50,000 in this slice-of-life drama written and directed by Walter Foote, son of screenwriter Horton Foote. They can't come up with the money on their own, so they borrow from several friends and acquaintances, including the widow of another close childhood chum. Part of the deal is that they'll give her wayward teenage son a job, so of course Ronnie becomes something of a surrogate father. Foote creates some believable bar atmosphere, much of the dialogue is nicely understated and naturalistic, and Tom Ryan is wonderful in a supporting role. But things play out in entirely predictable ways, and the film is so low-key it quickly fades from memory. (JK) (Water Tower downstairs, 4:15)

Burlesk King

Mel Chionglo's Filipino feature focuses on the hard life and troubled past of a "macho dancer" in Manila, the son of an American soldier. (Water Tower downstairs, 4:30)

X2000: French Films for a New Millennium

Six short films from France. Among the directors are Francois Ozon, Marina de Van, and Vincent Perez. (Music Box, 4:30)

Fly Low

It sounds like a good idea for a movie: intercutting two separate stories centered on the same location. In one story, three male youths who've escaped from an orphanage hide from the authorities in an abandoned schoolhouse; in the other, three young women who once attended the school make a sentimental journey there. Like many South Korean films, Kim Sion's feature is attractively filmed in vibrant colors--a direct or indirect legacy of the Technicolor equipment purchased long ago from this country, the kind that's no longer used here--and for the most part the two stories unfold in markedly different photographic styles. Unfortunately, neither story is very interesting or compelling apart from its visual treatment, and when one character from each story meets the other at the schoolhouse in a brief epilogue, the effect is mainly gratuitous. (JR) (Music Box, 4:45)

Man of the Century

This oddity is about a reporter named Johnny Twennies (Gibson Frazier) living in contemporary Manhattan who talks and acts as if it's still the 1920s. Writer-director Adam Abraham has fun with the lingo from that era ("Go on, you dizzy dame," "This'll be the hippodrome of news stories") and with the complications that result from Johnny's take on reality, especially those involving his girlfriend (Susan Egan). But this is essentially a one-trick pony. The inexhaustibly upbeat Johnny never has any trouble dealing with modern city life, though he seems oblivious to things that clearly existed 70 years earlier, including premarital sex, homosexuality, and a relatively healthy diet. The source of his pathology is never explored--his mother is equally delusional--but then he's only a one-dimensional cartoon. (JK) (Water Tower upstairs, 5:00)

Heroes in Tyrol

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower upstairs, 6:00)

The Big Tease

A comic pseudodocumentary from the U.S., directed by Kevin Allen, about a Scotsman (Craig Ferguson) who travels to the World Freestyle Hairdressing Championship in Los Angeles and encounters Hollywood culture; cameos by Drew Carey and Cathy Lee Crosby, among others. (Water Tower upstairs, 6:15)

Ave Maria

See listing above under this date. (Water Tower upstairs, 6:30)

Personals

A romantic comedy about a 30-year-old journalist (Malik Yoba) who's fired from the Village Voice for repeatedly letting his romantic life interfere with deadlines. Seeking to redeem himself professionally while simultaneously reviving his defunct love life, he proposes an investigative piece based on his experiences dating 30 women in 30 days, all arranged through the paper's personals section. His editor agrees to give him another chance, and what follows is approximately 75 minutes of scenes from the various dates, all of which take place at the same restaurant. The film is capably directed by Mike Sargent (who also wrote the screenplay) and features a fine lead performance by Yoba, but the premise exhausts itself within the first half hour. Too many of the women are little more than caricatures played for easy laughs, and you can see the "valuable lessons" Yoba's character will learn a mile away. This is mildly entertaining fluff that might have worked better as a sitcom. (RP) (Water Tower downstairs, 6:30)

Ratcatcher

This highly impressive debut feature by Scottish director Lynne Ramsay extends the visual acuity and emotional power of her astonishing shorts Small Deaths and Gasman, which were prizewinners at Cannes. Seeking refuge from his stultifying home life, 12-year-old James Gillespie (William Eadie) searches for adventure at a nearby canal, where he befriends Margaret Anne (Leanne Mullen), an emotionally vulnerable, sexually exploited 14-year-old. Their ensuing relationship is understated yet emotionally truthful, exploring the full range of their alternately frightened and exhilarated interior lives. Sometimes Ramsay relies too heavily on metaphor (the mounting garbage surrounding their economically ravaged community) to balance out her work, and the children's bleak home lives are too recognizable from the films of Alan Clarke and Mike Leigh. But the film becomes almost abstractly beautiful in its final half hour (the tracking shot that follows James as he runs along the banks is breathtaking). With its fluent images and sensitivity to mood, Ratcatcher signals the start of a promising career. (PZM) (Music Box, 6:30)

Bounce

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Music Box, 7:00)

People Who Love Each Other

Jean-Charles Tacchella (Traveling Avant, Cousin, cousine) directed this romantic comedy in which a radio announcer (Richard Berry) narrates the story of his on-again, off-again relationship with a woman (Jacqueline Bisset) over three decades. (Water Tower downstairs, 7:00)

Yesterday Children

Roman Catholicism and traditional animistic beliefs clash in this well-intentioned social drama from the Philippines, set in a remote village during a prolonged drought. Not surprisingly, the natural disaster brings to the surface a variety of prejudices and reveals the community's hierarchy of values pertaining to God, man, and nature: a few villagers seek solace in prayer, but the majority believe that only a sacrificial virgin can appease the angry gods. Caught in the middle are the village's children, especially a blind girl and bastard boy subjected to the stern dictates of superstitious adults. Director Carlos Siguion-Reyna has a keen eye for psychological detail as well as the spiritual complexity of life in a rural community. He takes no sides in the religious tug-of-war, revealing both the moral shortcomings of the church and the animists' vicious cycle of misogyny. The linear narrative can be fairly predictable but fails to diminish the clarity of Siguion-Reyna's social observation. (ZB) (Water Tower upstairs, 7:00)

Tuvalu

A tedious exercise in stylistic self-indulgence, this debut German feature by Veit Helmer wears out its welcome very quickly. Its primary setting is a dilapidated indoor swimming pool inside a stationary vessel amid the ruins of a postapocalyptic world inhabited by a small number of odd individuals. Central among them are Anton, who looks after the pool, and a girl named Eva, who's about the only other person his age around. What can be only generously described as a plot consists of the pair's bumpy attempts at creating a relationship, Anton's confrontations with his blind father, and sporadic visits from various uniformed officials. Essentially without dialogue--except for infrequent utterances of internationally recognizable single words--the film attempts to rely on deadpan slapstick humor, but it's rarely amusing. (ZB) (Water Tower upstairs, 8:30)

Love Will Tear Us Apart

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower downstairs, 8:45)

Boys Don't Cry

The true story of Teena Marie Brandon, a young woman from Lincoln, Nebraska, who inverted her name--to Brandon Teena--and her sexual identity. Dressing as a boy, she moves to a conservative small town and falls in with a group of local losers; among them is the sweet, lonely Lana (Chloe Sevigny, excellent as always) with whom Brandon has a tender sexual affair. Crisply directed by first-time feature filmmaker Kimberly Peirce, Boys Don't Cry also reflects the politically savvy, stylistically adventurous personality of its producer, Christine Vachon (Poison, Happiness). As Brandon, Hilary Swank (of Beverly Hills 90210) is an effectively ambiguous presence, with some of the scrubbed naivete of a Disney protagonist. Ultimately, social defiance leads to tragedy, in a violent conclusion that makes martyrs of much of the cast. (DK) (Music Box, 9:00)

Santitos

Producer Alejandro Springall's first outing as a feature director, using Maria Amparo Escandon's screenplay based on her novel Esperanza's Box of Saints, is a jaunty, semicomic excursion into the land of magic realism as seen through the eyes of a soap opera addict. The plot finds beautiful, pious widow Esperanza (Dolores Heredia) unable to accept the sudden death of her teenage daughter from some mysterious virus. She imagines all sorts of lurid happenings to explain her daughter's "disappearance," from an elaborate medical cover-up to an abduction by white slavers. When an image of the patron saint of lost causes, Saint Jude (complete with a votive candle sticking out of his head), appears to her on the smeary glass of her oven door, she tries to puzzle out where she must go and what she must do to find her child. Her pilgrimage leads her to places quite undreamed of in her religious philosophy, luring her into brothels on both sides of the border as she searches for a pink house she's heard of in a dream. Esperanza's very Mexican blend of naivete, faith, and dedication requires a sprightly absurdist tone that Springall maintains quite well--in fact, too well. The incredible adventures pile up unrelentingly, with no inflection, no downtime, and each new space is a set decorator's hallucination, as brightly colored as a candy store on acid. As a steady diet, the extraordinary cloys. (RS) (Water Tower upstairs, 9:00)

The Criminal of Barrio Concepcion

Shot on a shoestring by first-time director Lav Diaz, The Criminal of Barrio Concepcion focuses on lowly, devoted farmhand Serafin Geronimo (Raymond Bagatsing in a concentrated performance), a feverish Raskolnikov in this Filipino adaptation of Crime and Punishment. After a popular journalist is butchered--one in a series of murders--another investigative reporter (Angel Aquino) discovers the shell-shocked Serafin and eventually draws out his painful story. Each act of this rigorously structured film is marked by a radical shift in genre and tone: it begins as realist muckraking journalism, excoriating businessmen and politicians for human-rights violations, then plunges into noir territory as the guilt-ridden Serafin describes a kidnapping gone wrong. Eventually it becomes teary melodrama--par for the course for a Filipino production--when the tables are turned on the ultraconfident journalist. Diaz's unobtrusive camera style is likely a function of the budget (one camera broke on the first day of shooting and was never replaced), but he uses his minimal means to maximum effect. (MP) (Water Tower upstairs, 9:15)

Yana's Friends

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower downstairs, 9:15)

Mutinous Shorts

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Music Box, 9:30)

Terror Firmer

This near nonnarrative about the shooting of a movie full of gore, sex, scatology, and self-congratulatory cleverness is full of gore, sex, scatology, and self-congratulatory cleverness. A motley crew working under a blind director (a character based, not entirely facetiously, on director-cowriter Lloyd Kaufman, who plays the role) have affairs with one another and get killed on and off the set of a movie we're to understand is being made by Troma, the company that made this one. The main character, a production assistant who inspires something like sympathy when her masturbating is interrupted by her aging mother, can't decide between a sound recordist and a gore-effects specialist; they vie for her attention as the production team is menaced by a homicidal femme fatale. There's a challenge inherent in this kind of filmmaking: if you can't bear to watch, you're weak or judgmental; if you can, there's an even less flattering word for what you are. (LA) (Music Box, 11:30)

Sunday 17 October

Tredici

A "heartwarming" comedy from the U.S., directed by John Hancock, about three generations of a Corsican family that emigrated here in the 40s and now live on a fruit farm in Indiana. A potentially sinister sign: the film's producer has requested that it not be screened for the press. (JR) (Water Tower upstairs, 12:30)

1999 Madeleine

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Music Box, 1:30)

Mr. Zwilling and Mrs. Zuckermann

A German documentary about the reminiscences of two elderly Holocaust survivors, one of whom speaks seven languages, including German, Ukrainian, Russian, and Yiddish; Volker Koepp directed. (Water Tower downstairs, 1:45)

Punitive Damage

A documentary from New Zealand by Annie Goldson about the current tragedy in East Timor as seen through the struggle of Helen Todd, mother of slain human rights activist Kamal Todd, against the Indonesian government and military officials responsible for her son's death. (Music Box, 1:45)

X2000: French Films for a New Millennium

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower upstairs, 2:00)

Yesterday Children

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower downstairs, 2:00)

Ave Maria

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower upstairs, 2:15)

Tuvalu

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower upstairs, 2:30)

Jose Rizal

Framing this narrative are scenes showing Jose Rizal (Cesar Montano)--whose execution in 1896 influenced the revolution for independence in the Philippines--in prison awaiting trial for treason and writing novels that expose the Spanish government and clergy. Minor characters--women who loved him, anonymous guards--look on as events unfold, and the kaleidoscopic perspective enhances this semirealist portrait, which includes dramatizations of scenes from Rizal's fiction that contrast his ambivalence about violence as a revolutionary tool with the certainty of one of his characters that it's necessary. A hyperactive camera comes to rest during contemplative close-ups that suggest more about his concerns for his nation, his family, and himself than a last-minute confrontation with his alter ago. Directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya. (LA) (Water Tower upstairs, 3:00)

The Dilettante

In his first film in eight years Pascal Thomas, whose 70s comedies provided proof that the French New Wave had receded, has struck gold--or at least a particularly fetching vein of pyrite. The dilettante of the title is Pierrette (Catherine Frot), an elegantly ditzy dame who sails through life with blithe self-assurance. While her grown children wrestle mightily with their life goals or fret about earning a living in the bleak economic climate of Paris in the 90s, Pierrette--who's just left a husband in Switzerland, arriving without a sou or any discernible marketable skills--foresees no problem whatsoever in getting a job and settling in. Despite the apparent inevitability of a rude awakening, everything comes up roses for Pierrette. Her peculiarly Gallic mix of pragmatism and frivolity, combined with her unshakable self-confidence, proves irresistible. One day she walks into a ghetto school looking for employment, and the next she and her "revolutionary teaching methods" are on the six o'clock news. The Dilettante is a souffle of a movie--light, frothy, and capable of collapsing at any moment, much like its heroine. Thomas's impeccable timing never falters, nor does Frot's tour de force performance ever pale. To a large extent Frot is the movie; she appears in every scene and propels every action. Yet at the end, in a dramatic courtroom finale, Thomas has her step aside and let other women take center stage. It's a curiously generous gesture that gives unexpected scope and definition to Frot's giddy balancing act. (RS) (Music Box, 3:30)

Nothing

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower downstairs, 4:00)

Seconds

An aging millionaire is surgically transformed into Rock Hudson and given a new life by a secret organization. While this 1966 SF thriller is detailing the transformation, it's genuinely creepy and suspenseful, thanks largely to the black-and-white cinematography of James Wong Howe, which blends expressionist lighting with the realist overtones of handheld shooting. But the screenplay (by Lewis John Carlino, of The Great Santini) collapses into musty moralizing in the second half, and director John Frankenheimer throws in the towel. With John Randolph, Salome Jens, Jeff Corey, Murray Hamilton, and Will Geer. (DK) (Water Tower upstairs, 4:00)

The Week That Girl Died

Unable to transcend its self-righteousness about the issues planted in the unconvincing narrative, this light drama about three friends periodically unites them at a restaurant, where they tell one another about their lives mainly to introduce flashbacks. One guy's interested in the waitress, but before she agrees to go out with him he gets involved in some pity sex that's supposed to teach him a lesson. Another manages to date a woman who works at a peep show, a story line that doesn't expose the intended hypocrisy, because he continues to apply society's double standard after he decides she's been victimized by it. The third guy's experiences with a deceitful woman he meets at a funeral are just unpredictable enough to suggest that this story line--about the value of family versus romantic love--may have been inspired by something other than a compulsion to make politically correct observations about heterosexual courtship. Sean Travis directed a screenplay by Rocco Iacovone. (LA) (Music Box, 4:00)

Personals

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower downstairs, 4:30)

The Past

Ivo Trajkov's feature from the Czech Republic focuses on a man trying to flee his past. (Water Tower upstairs, 4:45)

Santitos

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower upstairs, 4:45)

Big Wheels, Angels & Turtles: International Shorts

Short films from Germany, Belgium, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. (Music Box, 6:00)

The Tavern

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower downstairs, 6:00)

Checkpoint

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower upstairs, 6:30)

Rien sur Robert

From France, a popular comedy with a little something extra. Gifted farceur Fabrice Luchini is a Parisian intellectual haunted by two demons--his foulmouthed, violent-tempered fiancee (Sandrine Kiberlain, effectively cast against type) and a hot young writer (Laurent Lucas) whose path keeps crossing his at crucial, humiliating points. Pascal Bonitzer--onetime Cahiers du Cinema critic and scripting partner of Raul Ruiz, Jacques Rivette, and Andre Techine--wrote and directed this, his second feature, in what seems to be a mood of playful self-loathing. One classic sequence finds Luchini traveling to a distant suburb for a literary dinner thrown by a gruff old novelist (Michel Piccoli), only to find that he was never really invited and that the elderly writer has memorized every word of a cruel pan Luchini has written of his latest book. This comic nightmare has something in common with Martin Scorsese's After Hours, in the way it inventively and persuasively links disaster to disaster. But Bonitzer doesn't share Scorsese's prudery--here sex is not a trap but an ever elusive pleasure. With Bernadette Lafont. (DK) (Music Box, 6:30)

The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun and Le Franc

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower downstairs, 6:30)

Sex, Shame and Tears

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower upstairs, 6:45)

Northern Skirts

An Austrian-Swiss-German production directed by Barbara Albert about five ethnically diverse war refugees from the former Yugoslavia. (Water Tower upstairs, 7:00)

Man of the Century

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower upstairs, 7:00)

The Week That Girl Died

See listing above under this date. (Music Box, 8:00)

Personals

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower downstairs, 8:15)

Gangland

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower downstairs, 8:30)

X2000: French Films for a New Millennium

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower upstairs, 8:30)

Animation Nations

Animated shorts from Ireland, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, the U.S., Canada, and Australia. (Music Box, 8:45)

Kazoku Cinema

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower upstairs, 8:45)

Burlesk King

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower upstairs, 9:00)

Monday 18 October

The Dilettante

See listing under Sunday, October 17. (Water Tower upstairs, 3:30)

The Story of Ah

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower downstairs, 3:30)

Woman on a Tin Roof

"A Filipino Day for Night," says the festival blurb, indicating that Mario O'Hara's comedy offers a behind-the-scenes look at filmmaking in the Philippines. (Water Tower upstairs, 5:45)

The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun and Le Franc

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower downstairs, 6:00)

Tumbleweeds

Unsubtle injections of cinema verite and a plot reminiscent of Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore propel this southern-white-trash mother-daughter road movie. Four-times-married Mary Jo (Janet McTeer) needs companionship to survive but flees town after town once her luck runs out. By the time she shacks up with a ticking bomb of a truck driver (director Gavin O'Connor) in southern California, precocious daughter Ava (Kimberly Brown) has had enough of her mother's fickle, flirtatious ways. The extent of Mary Jo's pathological attachment to ancient sexual values is revealed long before she realizes it herself, and the script--by O'Connor and Angela Shelton, loosely based on Shelton's childhood--couldn't be more telegraphed. But capable, if slightly show-offy, performances by McTeer and Brown give this Sundance favorite a little sparkle. (MP) (Water Tower upstairs, 6:00)

Animation Nations

See listing under Sunday, October 17. (Music Box, 6:00)

Tuvalu

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower upstairs, 6:15)

Bingo! The Documentary

"I have no place else to go" is the oft-repeated mantra of bingo fans in John Jeffcoat's workmanlike one-hour video documentary, which reveals little about why these lonely people latch onto bingo as their single social outlet. Still, it's not without its charms, as a deadpan drag queen calls the numbers at a bingo parlor in Blackpool, England, and angry seniors taking a bingo cruise on the Caribbean complain that there aren't enough games to pass the time. On the same program, Stephen Hutchinson's short subject Airtime Rights, a portrait of one man's tenuous relationship to society through talk radio. (LG) (Music Box, 6:30)

Santitos

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower downstairs, 6:30)

Soft Hearts

Joel C. Lamangan (who directed The Story of Ah, also playing this week at the festival) codirected with Enrico Quizon this Filipino comedy about a bisexual, straight, and gay menage a trois. (Water Tower downstairs, 8:00)

A Reasonable Man

After a camping trip in the ruggedly beautiful Zululand wilderness, corporate attorney Sean Raine (Gavin Hood) and his wife, Jennifer (Janine Eser), drive into a Zulu village just after a baby has been murdered. The apparent killer is a kind herdsman named Sipho (Loyiso Gxwala), whose cattle had almost trampled the couple that morning while they were sleeping. Sean follows Sipho after his arrest and learns that he's murdered the baby because he thought it was a tikoloshe, a sort of evil goblin that works at the behest of witches. When Sipho's attorney decides to plead insanity, Sean prevails upon her to let him take over the case, even though he has virtually no trial experience. Hood--who also wrote, directed, and coproduced this film--is a former attorney, and he's able to generate some excitement during Sipho's trial, which takes up most of the second half of the film. This is a finely crafted production with solid performances, especially Nigel Hawthorne's as the presiding judge. But the drama covers no new ground, and there've been so many films depicting well-intentioned white men defending guileless natives that they tend to run together. (JK) (Water Tower upstairs, 8:15)

Coming Apart

Younger fans of The Blair Witch Project may not realize that this kind of pseudodocumentary, usually minus the horror elements, was a staple of independent filmmaking during the 60s; Jim McBride's first feature (David Holzman's Diary), Shirley Clarke's The Connection, and Peter Watkins's early films (including The War Game and Privilege) all dealt potently with this form. This evocative 1969 feature by Milton Moses Ginsberg, a relatively late example, is particularly good at giving the impression of using random footage, and it sometimes suggests Andy Warhol (the "strobe" cutting and unbridled behavior) and Michael Snow (a consistent camera angle). The entire movie is set in the living room of the Manhattan apartment of a onetime psychiatrist (Rip Torn), most of it shot with an allegedly hidden camera across from a sofa and mirror. The hero is idly filming his sexual encounters--many of them abortive, though in keeping with the period's sexual politics, the women generally strip right away while he never gets further than his underpants. The scenes range from flirtations and kinky come-ons to orgies to marital squabbles. Torn, Sally Kirkland, and Viveca Lindfors are all terrific, and the music is by Jefferson Airplane. (JR) (Music Box, 8:30)

Sex, Shame and Tears

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower upstairs, 8:30)

American Movie

Who isn't tired of American independent filmmakers with yuppie bank accounts and film-school pedigrees? Meet Mark Borchardt, Milwaukee high school dropout with three kids, impossible debts, a drinking problem, and part-time jobs as a paperboy and a janitor at a cemetery--who's also writer, director, editor, and overacting star of a low-budget splatter movie he's been struggling to finish for years. He's the improbable protagonist of Chris Smith's marvelous feature documentary, an alternately hilarious black comedy and sad story of a screwed-up chronic overreacher who's always involving his peculiar family, his girlfriend, and his lawbreaking drinking buddies in his Ed Wood-like movie schemes. Borchardt: "The American dream stays with me every day--and thank God they've extended my phone bill until Friday." (Borchardt's horror-psychodrama, Coven, recently showed at the Toronto international film festival; in a bargain-basement George Romero, Sam Fuller kind of way, it's pretty fascinating outsider cinema.) (GP) (Water Tower upstairs, 8:45)

Barracks

In the Soviet Union communal living arrangements in multifamily dwellings were considered a normal part of life. To contemporary Russian filmmakers they can serve as a handy metaphor for both the achievements and shortcomings of the communist system. Valeri Ogorodnikov's Barracks is set in the early 50s within the barren landscape of a small provincial town, where the oddball residents include a feisty mute and an eccentric one-legged photographer. Stark black-and-white images are followed by warmer sepia-toned sequences, which are followed by scenes shot in deeply saturated colors. For much of its first hour the film wanders around the story lines of more than a dozen characters, juxtaposing petty feuds and serious crimes, unrequited love and moments of joy, and--rare for an eastern European film--touching on the deeply rooted ethnic prejudices of the region. Only toward the end does the film, suddenly streamlined and focused, realize its potential as a serious commentary on the social tapestry of the Soviet Union--imbuing the largely bleak earlier part with compassion and hope. (ZB) (Water Tower downstairs, 8:45)

Games & Patterns: Short Films About Youth

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Music Box, 8:45)

Tuesday 19 October

Mr. Zwilling and Mrs. Zuckermann

See listing under Sunday, October 17. (Water Tower downstairs, 2:00)

Barracks

See listing under Monday, October 18. (Water Tower downstairs, 3:30)

Soft Hearts

See listing under Monday, October 18. (Water Tower upstairs, 3:30)

The Dilettante

See listing under Sunday, October 17. (Water Tower downstairs, 6:00)

The Longest Summer

An ambitious sociological snapshot of a society in anarchic flux, independent filmmaker Fruit Chan's follow-up to his 1997 Made in Hong Kong continues to demythologize Triad life, plunging a knife into the chest of romanticism and recent official history. Set in the months preceding the handover of Hong Kong, The Longest Summer looks at army vets trying in vain to adjust to life after their world--the pointless colonial glamour of the British-run military service corps--has vanished. Through his younger brother (a wiry, scene-stealing Sam Lee), Ga-yin (first-time actor Tony Ho) gets involved with the mob in an attempt to replicate his military experience in civilian life. Chan skillfully mixes documentary footage shot during the handover celebrations with docudrama that emphasizes the division between reality and the reproduction of the world through images, all while infusing the plight of the soldiers with a distinctive wicked sense of humor. The long, somewhat overwrought narrative has plenty of literal and metaphorical fireworks, and even if he dawdles along the way, Chan has learned how to finish a film. (MP) (Water Tower upstairs, 6:00)

My Best Fiend

It's a question whether Werner Herzog's film about his poor dead mad-genius friend/fiend collaborator Klaus Kinski could realistically be called a documentary. Herzog, hardly a poster boy for mental health, turns in a fine, if purely fictional, performance as a sane director, and the story is moderately interesting, as much for what it doesn't say as for what it does. Apparently, as a boy of 13 Herzog lived with his family in the same boardinghouse as Kinski. Today as Herzog walks about the building, now a private residence, he describes the damage Kinski did in fits of rage to his own minuscule living quarters (a fourth of the present-day kitchen) and to the Herzogs' and fellow boarders' digs. From there to the influence Kinski later wielded over Herzog's life and work is but a small step. The problem is that Herzog never goes beyond the anecdotal to explore the "sick" symbiotic relationship he had with the star of five of his most envelope-pushing films. This is no Burden of Dreams, Les Blank's genre-defining documentary on the notoriously arduous making of Fitzcarraldo. Aside from a few videotape segments of a long semipsychotic diatribe Kinski delivers to a hostile German theater audience, which came to see his performance as Jesus, the visual material is sparse. Much of the film is shot in Peru, on the locations of Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre: The Wrath of God, and clips of those films alternate with footage of Herzog talking about Kinski or interviewing local people who acted with Kinski 20 years ago and still bear the scars. Weirdly, Herzog comes across as an uneasy stand-in for Kinski, awaiting the real actor's return so the action can start. On the same program, Homeless '99, D.P. Carlson's documentary tone poem incorporating a voice-over medley of Chicagoans' opinions on the subject. (RS) (Water Tower upstairs, 6:15)

Woman on a Tin Roof

See listing under Monday, October 18. (Water Tower downstairs, 6:15)

Snow Falling on Cedars

After the international success of his feel-good fable Shine, Australian director Scott Hicks earned a Hollywood carte blanche for his next project, an adaptation of a best-selling novel by David Guterson. Predictably, the film is an ego trip; unpredictably, it's a glum, solemn one, loaded with facile social themes (the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was a bad idea), opaque characters (Ethan Hawke as a crusading small-town newspaperman, Youki Kudoh as the Japanese woman he loved and lost), pointlessly intricate flashbacks, and inflated technique. As ambitious as the film seems to be, the courtroom format--in 1954 a Japanese fisherman is put on trial in the Pacific Northwest for the murder of a Caucasian colleague--couldn't be more ordinary, even with veteran scene-stealer Max von Sydow standing for the defense. With James Cromwell, Sam Shepard, and James Rebhorn. (DK) (Music Box, 6:30)

The Tavern

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower upstairs, 6:30)

The Week That Girl Died

See listing under Sunday, October 17. (Music Box, 7:00)

Northern Skirts

See listing under Sunday, October 17. (Water Tower upstairs, 8:30)

The Criminal of Barrio Concepcion

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower upstairs, 8:30)

The Story of Ah

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower downstairs, 8:30)

A Reasonable Man

See listing under Monday, October 18. (Water Tower downstairs, 8:45)

Love and Action in Chicago

A screwball romantic comedy directed by Chicagoan Dwayne Johnson-Cochran about a hit man (Courtney B. Vance) who takes a vow of celibacy and the efforts of a woman (Regina King) to change his mind; with Jason Alexander and Kathleen Turner. (Water Tower upstairs, 8:45)

Tumbleweeds

See listing under Monday, October 18. (Water Tower upstairs, 8:45)

Bingo! The Documentary

See listing under Monday, October 18. (Music Box, 9:00)

Mutinous Shorts

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Music Box, 9:30)

Wednesday 20 October

The Longest Summer

See listing under Tuesday, October 19. (Water Tower upstairs, 3:15)

Woman on a Tin Roof

See listing under Monday, October 18. (Water Tower downstairs, 4:15)

Barracks

See listing under Monday, October 18. (Water Tower upstairs, 6:00)

Tredici

See listing under Sunday, October 17. (Water Tower upstairs, 6:00)

Games & Patterns: Short Films About Youth

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Music Box, 6:30)

Jose Rizal

See listing under Sunday, October 17. (Water Tower upstairs, 6:30)

Love and Action in Chicago

See listing under Tuesday, October 19. (Music Box, 6:30)

Mr. Zwilling and Mrs. Zuckermann

See listing under Sunday, October 17. (Water Tower downstairs, 6:00)

A Reasonable Man

See listing under Monday, October 18. (Water Tower downstairs, 6:45)

Bingo! The Documentary

See listing under Monday, October 18. (Music Box, 8:30)

The Longest Summer

See listing under Tuesday, October 19. (Water Tower upstairs, 8:30)

Rien sur Robert

See listing under Sunday, October 17. (Water Tower downstairs, 8:45)

Terror Firmer

See listing under Saturday, October 16. (Water Tower upstairs, 8:45)

Gangland

See listing under Friday, October 15. (Water Tower downstairs, 9:00)

Soft Hearts

See listing under Monday, October 18. (Music Box, 9:00)

Thursday 21 October

Best of Fest 1

A prizewinning feature from this year's festival; to be announced. (Water Tower upstairs, 6:00)

Best of Fest 2

A prizewinning feature from this year's festival; to be announced. (Water Tower downstairs, 6:00)

Best of Fest 3

A prizewinning feature from this year's festival; to be announced. (Music Box, 6:00)

Best of Fest 4

A prizewinning feature from this year's festival; to be announced. (Water Tower downstairs, 6:15)

Best of Fest 5

A prizewinning feature from this year's festival; to be announced. (Water Tower upstairs, 6:30)

Best of Fest 6

A prizewinning feature from this year's festival; to be announced. (Music Box, 6:30)

The Cider House Rules

Impeccably crafted and utterly impersonal, Lasse Hallstrom's adaptation of John Irving's novel has many of the qualities Oscar is known to appreciate: It's a coming-of-age tale, about an orphan (Tobey Maguire) raised by a kindly doctor (Michael Caine) to become a gifted, if unlicensed, obstetrician; he has a love affair with an engaged older woman (Charlize Theron) and discovers the joys and perfidies of adult sexuality. The 1920s production design by David Gropman is perfect, and Oliver Stapleton's photography of the rural Maine landscape is ravishing. But the exercise still feels empty and academic, more a matter of going through the standard Hollywood humanist motions than developing the material from the inside. Good work all around--but who really wanted to make this movie, and who really wants to see it? Delroy Lindo, Paul Rudd, Jane Alexander, Kathy Baker, and Kate Nelligan round out the appropriately prestigious supporting cast. (DK) (Music Box, 8:30)

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