Arts & Culture » Festival

European Union Film Festival

comment

The ninth European Union Film Festival continues Friday, March 10, through Thursday, March 30, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800. Tickets are $9, $7 for students, and $5 for Film Center members. Following are films screening through Thursday, March 16; for a full festival schedule visit www.chicagoreader.com.

R Ae Fond Kiss . . .

A second-generation Pakistani (Atta Yaqub) in working-class Glasgow falls for a white woman (Eva Birthistle) who teaches music at his sister's Catholic school, and the two young lovers find themselves isolated as both his family and her employers condemn the relationship. This Romeo and Juliet story (2004) plays out in fairly predictable fashion, but the great social realist director Ken Loach (Land and Freedom) puts it across with an uncharacteristic focus on the lovers' sexual delight. Birthistle delivers a passionate performance as the young teacher, who finds that her parish priest and her boyfriend's Muslim father share the same ugly paternalism. The screenplay is by Loach's frequent collaborator Paul Laverty (Sweet Sixteen, Bread and Roses). 104 min. (JJ) a Sun 3/12, 5 PM, and Thu 3/16, 6 PM

After the Day Before

Attila Janisch directed this 2004 feature. In Hungarian with subtitles. 120 min. a Sat 3/11, 5:30 PM, and Tue 3/14, 7:45 PM

Agnes and His Brothers

Oscar Roehler directed this 2004 satire from Germany. In German with subtitles. 115 min. a Thu 3/16, 8 PM

Down Colorful Hill

Returning home after a two-year prison term, a small-time hood (Dariusz Majchrzak) finds that his sweetheart has married his younger brother, who's trying to sell the family farm out from under him; the ex-con struggles to win back his woman and his inheritance while fending off the advances of his old criminal cohorts. This digital video from Poland (2004, 114 min.) has its awkward moments, but director Przemyslaw Wojcieszek compensates by skillfully ratcheting up the tension between the characters, aided by gritty performances from an excellent cast (notably Przemyslaw Bluszcz as a slick but emotionally unhinged crime boss). In Polish with subtitles. (Reece Pendleton) a Sun 3/12, 5:15 PM, and Mon 3/13, 8 PM

R Evil

Adapted from Jan Guillou's autobiographical novel, this 2003 feature by Mikael Hafstrom explores whether it's better to combat injustice with force or passive resistance. In 1950s Sweden a teenager with violent tendencies (Andreas Wilson) is shipped off to boarding school by his abusive stepfather and loving but weak mother; when his athletic prowess and defiant attitude make him the target of an older boy (Gustaf Skarsgard), he refuses to fight back, goading the bully to sadistic extremes against him and his bookish roommate (Henrik Lundstrom). This suspenseful, beautifully acted Dickensian drama forces us to confront our own bloodlust: do we root for the teen to win a moral victory or to beat the bad guy to a pulp? In Swedish with subtitles. 109 min. (Albert Williams) a Sat 3/11, 8 PM, and Mon 3/13, 6 PM

R Kinky Boots

The owner of a shoe factory in provincial Northampton dies suddenly, leaving the besieged family business to his good-hearted but uninterested son (Joel Edgerton). He's forced to lay off longtime employees and consider liquidation until a chance encounter with a Soho drag queen (Chiwetel Ejiofor) gives him an idea: convert his product line from staid business shoes to supersturdy high-fashion boots for cross-dressing men. Neatly scripted by Tim Firth and Geoff Deane, this sticks to the Full Monty formula of starchy working-class types learning to loosen up about sex, but Julian Jarrold's sincere, low-key direction erases any sense of artifice. With Linda Bassett and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead). PG-13, 107 min. (JJ) a Sat 3/11, 3 PM

A Land of Glass

Lithuanian director Janina Lapinskaite poaches on Tarkovsky territory with this chilly, enigmatic 2004 story of a woman (Jurga Kalvaityte) who's struggling with motherhood. Saddled with an emotionally detached husband, she's the primary caregiver for two challenging children: an infant who may die of an unnamed disease and a little girl who keeps running off to nearby marshes to await the arrival of some mysterious beings. Increasingly unable to cope with the stress, the woman begins to deteriorate, her desolation mirrored by lingering shots of the austere winter landscape. Lapinskaite tries to suggest a deeper spiritual struggle as well, but it's overshadowed by the sweeping sense of clinical depression. In Lithuanian with subtitles. 70 min. (Reece Pendleton) Lapinskaite will attend the screening and a 6 PM reception. a Sun 3/12, 7:15 PM

Miss Montigny

A scrappy young woman (Sophie Quinton) works two jobs to support her family, who are struggling to stay afloat in their failing Belgian town. Her even more tenacious mother (Ariane Ascaride) pushes her to enter a local beauty pageant for its cash prize, and the competition becomes all-consuming; she stands to lose her beau and her best friend while her mother fails to notice that her unemployed husband has begun to stray. Director Miel van Hoogenbemt provides enough comic touches to keep this 2005 domestic drama from getting dreary, and Nigel Willoughby adds to the feel of urban dislocation with his low-contrast 16-millimeter cinematography. In French with subtitles. 101 min. (AG) a Sat 3/11, 3:15 PM, and Mon 3/13, 6 PM

R Moments Choisis des Histoire(s) du Cinema

Jean-Luc Godard's eight-part, 264-minute video Histoire(s) du Cinema (1998) has rarely been seen outside France, occasioning this feature-length reworking of many elements in his magnum opus that's neither an anthology nor a digest. The "selected moments" have been transferred to 35-millimeter, and at 84 minutes this reconfiguration is more accessible (if less celebratory) than the original. Both versions portray cinema as a 19th-century invention that recorded the history of the 20th century, though the pessimism here about cinema's failure to bear adequate witness to the Holocaust is even more pronounced. The beauty and power of this ambitious, dreamlike work are incontestable in any version; as in Finnegans Wake, the meanings are more easily felt than understood. The English subtitles are sparse but work better that way. (JR) Reviewed this week in Section 1. a Wed 3/15, 6:15 PM

R Mother of Mine

Set during the outbreak of World War II, this intimate 2005 Finnish drama is simply constructed but resonates profoundly. A Helsinki boy (Topi Majaniemi in a memorable debut) loses his father during a Russian onslaught, and his mother sends him away with the thousands seeking haven in Sweden. He's taken in by a foster couple on the rugged seacoast, but the husband (Michael Nyqvist of Lukas Moodysson's Together) is more sympathetic to him than the wife (Maria Lundqvist), whose barely concealed grief prompts her to wage undeclared war against the boy's natural mother. Klaus Haro directed. In Finnish and Swedish with subtitles. 104 min. (AG) a Sun 3/12, 3 PM, and Wed 3/15, 6 PM

Only Human

High jinks ensue when a young Jewish woman (Norma Aleandro) brings home her Palestinian fiance (Guillermo Toledo of El Crimen Perfecto) to meet her whacked-out family, improbably passing him off as Israeli. Stuck in the family's cramped apartment, he's forced to endure her neurotic mother, slutty older sister, bratty six-year-old niece, rifle-toting grandfather, and recently converted Orthodox younger brother. Toledo is very funny, and there are some hilarious comic bits, but writer-directors Dominic Harari and Teresa Pelegri drag in several distracting subplots, turning this 2004 Spanish comedy into a scattershot affair. In Spanish with subtitles. 89 min. (JK) a Sun 3/12, 3:15 PM, and Tue 3/14, 6 PM

Primo Amore

A woman on a blind date (Michela Cescon) is immediately criticized by her companion (a memorably creepy Vitaliano Trevisan) for not being thinner; she tries to leave, but he insists on a drink and she reluctantly consents. The opening scene of this 2004 Italian drama sets the tone for a low-key study of power and obsession as the couple descend into a sadomasochistic relationship. Director Matteo Garrone (The Embalmer) shows great finesse in depicting the man's ever-growing control of the woman's dress and diet, yet the allusions to vampirism (specifically Murnau's Nosferatu) aren't developed enough, and the shadowy environment is increasingly stifling. In Italian with subtitles. 97 min. (JK) a Sat 3/11, 5:15 PM, and Wed 3/15, 8 PM

Revolution of Pigs

Rene Reinumagi and Jaak Kilmi directed this 2004 comedy drama. In Estonian with subtitles. 98 min. a Fri 3/10 and Thu 3/16, 8:15 PM

R Sleeper

Writer-director Benjamin Heisenberg's 2005 drama concerns a young geneticist at a Munich university who's recruited by the government to "profile" an Algerian coworker believed to be a terrorist. The two men become friends, but as their relationship is complicated by professional and romantic rivalry, the informer experiences a crisis of conscience and faith that changes both their lives. Is the real "sleeper" in this low-key but intriguing character study the suspected Muslim agent or the treacherous evil in his Christian colleague's soul? In German with subtitles. 100 min. (Albert Williams) a Fri 3/10, 6:15 PM, and Wed 3/15, 8:15 PM

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days

Julia Jentsch stars in this 2005 film about a real-life member of the German resistance who as a young woman was arrested and aggressively interrogated by the Nazis. In German with subtitles. 117 min. a Sat 3/11, 7:45 PM

Testosterone

A young Greek sailor travels to the island of Naxos to visit his aunt and retrieve his deceased grandfather's old Volkswagen; he hopes to meet a buddy in Athens for a week of debauchery, but his plans start to unravel when the car breaks down en route to the ferry. Before long the sailor realizes he's the only male on the island and begins indulging his carnal desires with the local women, until it becomes apparent that he's surrounded by sirens. Referencing classic Greek drama, this ribald 2005 romp by Yorgos Panoussopoulos starts losing steam halfway through as one sex-starved woman after another throws herself at the hapless protagonist. In Greek with subtitles. 96 min. (JK) a Fri 3/10, 8 PM, and Mon 3/13, 8:15 PM

Add a comment