Fall 2001 (2)

Under the Sand
Wednesday, October 24th at 7:00pm and 9:15pm

An absorbing, visually poetic portrait of one woman's subconscious refusal to come to grips with loss and grief, Franois Ozon's film features an amazing performance by English actress Charlotte Rampling. She plays Marie, an attractive, middle-aged university professor long married to a burly Frenchman, Jean. When Marie awakens from a nap on the beach, she anxiously realizes her husband has not returned from the swim he planned to take. Her panic, and the futile efforts of coast guards to find Jean, are conveyed with swift, brutal economy. Yet when we next encounter Marie, months later, she seems almost giddily content – despite the fact that Jean is still missing. Marie's inability to accept that his disappearance may be permanent. Even when she begins an affair with an attentive suitor, Marie cannot let Jean go. In a memorable scene, she takes keen erotic pleasure in the fantasy of both men caressing her at once. Ultimately, Under the Sand questions what may lurk in the depths of Marie's dependency and denial. (Misha Berson, Seattle Times) France, 2001, French w/ English subtitles, color, 96 min. NR, 35mm. This program was made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Ministry of Culture (CNC)


Nightmare Alley
Thursday, October 25th at 7:00 and 9:15pm

There's something strangely endearing and nostalgic about a carnival setting. And there is kind of a sleazy family quality to the carny workers – like low-rent Italian mobsters. There are few great movies about carnivals– Tod Browning's Freaks is one of them – and Nightmare Alley is another. Nightmare Alley has been elevated to cult status mostly out of its unavailability. It has been out of circulation for fifty years due to some argument over rights. Newly rereleased, you can now experience this rare gem. (Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid) USA, 1947, English, B&W, 110 min., 35mm.

George Washington
Friday, October 26th at 7:00pm and 9:00pm

Kids teetering on teenagehood and adulthood, an industrialized landscape veering into decay and reclamation by the wild countryside from which it arose, a lyrical Southern tone poem verging on Faulkneresque drama – all these are the raw elements used by George Washington in its vivid depiction of a group of kids during summer vacation. First-time feature director David Gordon Green has made a work of uncommon beauty and intelligence. (Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle) USA, 2000, English, Color, 89 min, NR, 35mm.

The Circle
Saturday, October 27th at 7:00pm and 9:00pm
Sunday, October 28th at 3:00pm and 7:00pm


"It's a girl." The first words spoken in Jafar Panahi's The Circle should be a celebration. But, they are so troubling to the anxious grandmother pacing in the hospital waiting room that she needs to confirm them with another nurse. Communicating through a tiny opening in a thick door like a prisoner, she insists: "The ultrasound said it would be a boy," as if willing it to be so. "The relatives will be furious." From this ominous prelude emerges a portrait of Iranian society that resembles a police state (not a surprise the film was banned in Iran). Women scramble through streets, dodging cops like fugitives. Some of them are (their crimes are left ominously vague), but another is a pregnant woman tossed out of the family home and searching for a doctor who will risk giving her an abortion. Panahi, whose previous films The White Balloon and The Mirror are deft, delicate little tales about the innocence of childhood, brings a passion and an anger to The Circle. (Sean Axmaker, The Post Intelligencer) Iran/Italy, 2000, Persian w/ English subtitles, Color, 90 min, NR, 35mm.


Dead or Alive
Wednesday, October 31st at 7:00pm and 9:15pm

NO ONE UNDER 18 ADMITTED!!!

It's Halloween. You want to see something that's maybe a bit crazy. Something different. Here it is. Only it's not just a little bit crazy. It's a lot crazy. And disturbing. Takashi Miike is a prolific Japanese filmmaker whose outrageous brand of "anything goes" cinema veers wildly from the frenetic and crazy pace of something like DEAD OR ALIVE, about a younger Chinese Mafia at war in Japan with the older, more established Yakuza, to the genre defying AUDITION, a beautifully crafted film that begins pleasantly enough but that, by end, will have everyone screaming in disbelief. His latest film, ICHI THE KILLER, just played at the Toronto Film Festival, reviewed as an "over-the-top yakusa actioner (that) reflect its comic book origins in both style and barely coherent narrative frenzy... A bad-taste challenge to all but the strongest constitutions (promo materials aptly include a barf bag) where the resulting pulp insanity careens on a high-octane mix of jet-black humor, frenetic stylization, surreal flips, nonstop action excess and gross-out f/x that at some point will nauseate or offend nearly every viewer; even hardy gonzo-cinema audiences will likely find the hectic pace overstimulating..." This review also perfectly describes DEAD OR ALIVE. You have been warned! Japan, 1999, Japanese w/ English subtitles, Color, 105 min Not rated; no one under 18 admitted, 35mm.

The Closet
Thursday, November 1st at 7pm and 9pm
Friday, November 2nd at 7pm and 9pm

The Closet is about a guy who pretends to be gay just so he won't lose his job. That's the amusing premise of this breezy satire on political correctness and homophobia, directed by Francis Veber, the veteran behind La Cage Aux Folles and The Dinner Party. Daniel Auteuil stars as Francois Pignon, a milquetoast accountant whose unimaginative approach to life has driven away his wife and son. He's hardly noticed at work. That's OK, as he's about to be fired. But then a neighbor suggests they spread the rumor that Pignon is gay; the company won't fire him for fear of being accused of discrimination. Pignon then goes about his life as before – except his co-workers and bosses now have a different perception of him. A fellow worker finds him attractive and a challenge for seduction; his estranged teenage son now finds him interesting; life at work becomes exciting. While pretending to come out of a closet, Pignon comes out of his shell. His transformation is subtle and believable. The Closet is an amusing enterprise that walks a fine, clever line on a tricky topic without ever giving offense. (Jack Garner, Democrat and Chronicle) France, 2000, French w/ English subtitles, Color, 84 min, rated R, 35mm. This program was made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Ministry of Culture (CNC)

Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade

Saturday, November 3rd at 7pm and 9:15pm
Sunday, November 4th at 3pm and 7pm

Written by Mamoru Oshii and directed by Hiroyuki Okiura, both of Ghost in the Shell fame, Jin-Roh begins in an alternate-reality Tokyo in which the Nazis won World War II. The Germans have left the city teeming with active terrorist groups opposed by other, counter-terrorist groups. Our hero is the stoic Kazuki, a Capital Police officer and member of the Wolf Brigade, one of the counter-terrorist groups. During a patrol, Kazuki chases a young girl, a "red riding hood" who smuggles bombs to guerrilla fighters, and corners her in a dark, dank alley. Just before pulling the trigger, he hesitates, and she triggers her bomb, instantly killing herself and nearly taking out Kazuki as well. The event leaves Kazuki shaken, and his superiors remove him from duty and force him to re-take basic training. During a low moment he visits the girl's grave, only to find her sister Kei there. The two form a kind of bond. This blend of fairy tale and horrific post-war scenario makes Jin-Roh something of a landmark for anime fans, and a fascinating way in for first-timers. (Jeffrey M. Anderson, The SF Examiner) Japan, 1998, Japanese w/ English subtitles, color, 102 min, 35mm.



Human Resources
Wednesday, November 7th at 7pm and 9:15pm

Movies have a hard enough time depicting the home or office without tripping over their own feet, so it1s something like a miracle that a single movie could show the power struggles that go on inside both of them simultaneously. Laurent Cantet1s Human Resources fuses the two types of pressure into a concentrated blast of steam, leaving its characters no room for retreat in any direction. The characters can1t have a flare-up in the factory lunchroom without it rebounding on them at the dinner table that night; a lifetime1s worth of resentments percolate into the simplest workplace interactions. It1s an outwardly normal-looking but inwardly harrowing world in which people stand constantly exposed before their relations and co-workers. Laurence Cantet has made a mature, astutely observed film about cross-generational expectations, class shame, and the horrific overlap between people1s professional and personal lives. It1s a quiet masterpiece. (Tom Block, Culture Vulture) France/UK, 1999, French w/ English subtitles, color, 103 min, 35mm. This program was made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Ministry of Culture (CNC)

Burning Man: The Burning Sensation
Thursday, November 8th at 7pm and 9pm
Friday, November 9th at 7pm and 9pm

An amazing and privileged inside look at one of the few certifiable counterculture events of this thoroughly commercialized age, Burning Man: The Burning Sensation is a knockout documentary with a renegade personality ideally suited to its anarchic subject matter. Bound to excite the young and the reckless just as it gives respectable citizens pause, Alex Nohe's dynamic account of the annual art/lifestyle bacchanal in the Nevada desert has the potential to become a hot item on the specialized circuit, especially in campus towns and big-city alternative theaters; in its present cut, it's too raunchy for any mainstream cable outlet. While some of the nutty behavior on view is simply an expression of restless and horny youth, and plenty of other stuff simply qualifies as goofing off, the truly anarchic attitudes that form the foundation and appeal of Burning Man represents manifestations of rebelliousness that have not been seen in American culture in quite some time. An invigorating, outrageous, often hilarious documentary. (Todd McCarthy, Variety) USA, 2000, English, 73 min, 35mm.

Everybody's Famous
Saturday, November 10th at 7pm and 9:15pm
Sunday, November 11th at 3pm and 7pm

If there's any justice in moviedom, this summer's feel-good hit will be an unassuming Dutch comedy called Everybody's Famous! Defying long odds, writer-director Dominique Deruddere has taken a couple of shopworn subjects – the public obsession with celebrity and the ineptitude of amateur criminals – and parlayed them into an original and inventive farce. It was nominated for an Oscar this year for best foreign film. Clearly, Deruddere has watched hordes of TV-crazed masochists scratch and grapple on Survivor and Springer. The unlikely hero is a stagestruck factory worker named Jean, whose charm and the movie's success lie in his guy-on-the-street innocence. Like the striptease kings of The Full Monty and the working-class father who finally gives in to ballet in Billy Elliot, he wins us over with the sheer blind force of his striving. Deruddere puts a sunny, funny, and free-spirited spin on manufactured personality and disposable fame. (Bill Gallow, The New Times Los Angeles) Belgium/France /Netherlands, 2000, Dutch w/ English subtitles, Color, 99 min, rated R, 35mm.

The Day I Became a Woman
Wednesday, November 14th at 7pm and 9pm
Sunday, November 18th at 9pm

You don't have to be a woman or part of the Islamic culture to appreciate the provocative poignancy of Marziyeh Meshkini's The Day I Became a Woman, an extraordinary film about freedom, the loss of innocence and the pull of life's inescapable social forces. The movie is a striking statement about what it means to be a woman in Iran or a member of any culture that puts limitations on the notions of freedom and self-determination. If that makes the film sound like a dry social treatise, don't worry; The Day I Became a Woman is full of exhilarating scenes and memorable characters. It's another winning import from Iran, a country of gifted filmmakers who specialize in exotically gorgeous movies. The 75-minute film is divided into three 25-minute segments, each telling the story of a woman at a different age and stage of her life. Taken together, they could represent three faces of the same woman. Taken together, they most certainly represent a moving portrait of the limitations faced by women in Islamic culture. (Glen Whipp, Daily News Los Angeles) Iran, 2000, Persian w/ English subtitles, Color, 78 min, NR, 35mm.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Thursday, November 15th at 7pm and 9pm
Friday, November 16th at 7pm and 9pm

Hedwig and the Angry Inch remembers what it's like to truly rock and roll. When Hedwig – and her rival Tommy Gnosis – sing, they sing about stuff that truly means something to them. And they can rage, rant and vent to their hearts' content while sweating in the spotlight. The catchy, powerful music reveals a love for the glam-rock '70s acts like David Bowie, as well as pre-punk pioneers such as Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Iggy Pop. The blonde-wigged Hedwig (John Cameron Mitchell) begins life as Hansel, a beautiful girly-boy in East Berlin who meets an American soldier and falls in love. But in order to leave Berlin and escape to America, Hansel must endure a special operation, bringing him closer to womanhood. Unfortunately the doctors botch the procedure, leaving Hansel – now Hedwig – with nothing but an "angry inch." Once in America the soldier abandons him, and Hedwig turns to rock 'n' roll for solace. We join Hedwig at the film's beginning, in the process of touring the country, hot on Tommy's heels, playing whatever nearby venues she can get (including salad bars, coffee shops and laundromats), and trying to get the word out that she's been ripped off. (Jeffrey Anderson, The SF Examiner) USA, 2000, English, Color, 95 min, R, 35mm.

The Wide Blue Road
Saturday, November 17th at 7pm and 9:15pm
Sunday, November 18th at 3pm and 7pm

Based on the Franco Solinas short social novel set in post-WWII Italy, The Wide Blue Road had never received a U.S. theatrical release until a few weeks ago. It has been restored thanks to the efforts of Jonathan Demme, Dustin Hoffman, Turner Classic Movies and Milestone Films. An operatic story of a poor Italian fisherman's struggle to feed his family, the film stars a young Yves Montand. Montand's unforgettable, complex character is part working-class hero, part macho-cowboy, part 1950s sex symbol at sea. The Wide Blue Road is an extraordinary location film ... an unbelievably dramatic Sardinian fishing community. A Romeo and Juliet story photographed in that amazing 1950s color. It's got the Pontecorvo social context but that really wonderful story of passion in the foreground .... I was expecting an interesting curio [but] instead saw an unacknowledged, great, classic picture. (Amy Heller, Cornell Cinema) Italy/France/West Germany, 1957, Italian w/ English subtitles, Color, 99 min, 35mm.

An Enemy of the People
Wednesday, November 28th at 7pm only

Introduction by Stan Brakhage

Steve McQueen served as both star and executive producer for this film version of the drama by Henrik Ibsen, which was adapted by Arthur Miller. When Dr. Thomas Stockmann (McQueen) discovers that a tannery has dangerously polluted a hot spring in his community, he feels that it is his duty to share this information with the people. However, a number of prominent citizens (including Stockmann) intended to use the hot springs as the centerpiece of a health spa, and Tom's brother Peter (Charles Durning), the town's mayor, contends that a clean-up of the spring would be impractical, expensive, and would scare off potential customers. Stockmann is still eager to share his story with the community, but the town council is determined to silence him, and in time they turn public opinion against him. The outcry against Stockmann's activism eventually ruins his medical practice and drives a wedge between Stockmann and his wife Catherine (Bibi Andersson). While An Enemy of the People became a pet project for McQueen, it received poor distribution, opening in only a few scattered American cities several years after it was completed. (Mark Deming, All Movie Guide) USA, 1977, English, Color 103 min, rated G, 35mm.

Baise-Moi
Thursday, November 29th at 7pm and 9pm
Friday, November 30th at 7pm and 9pm

NO ONE UNDER 18 ADMITTED! BANNED IN FRANCE

I've heard reviewers complaining about both the sex and the violence in Baise-moi. Firstly, don't fool yourself – the sex is hard-core. This is basically an X-rated porno flick with violence. To the film's detractors, the sex makes the violence seem more graphic and the violence makes the sex seem more unappetizing. Shot on digital video, and running only 77 minutes, the film looks defiantly amateurish. How many films have been made about men running around shooting everyone? But when women do it, it suddenly becomes an outrage. Remember all the controversy over Thelma and Louise? Not to mention that, in addition to their guns, these women use their most powerful weapon of all, their bodies. It's as if they have both penises (read: guns) and vaginas all at the same time. Manu and Nadine remain in control of their own destinies for every second of the film up until its inevitable climax. They enjoy sex on their own terms. The title itself, Rape Me , is an ironic statement, animpossible oxymoron (one cannot be raped if one wills it). It's the power in the hands of women – both the actresses and the writer-directors – that makes Baise-moi stand apart. (Excerpt by Jeffrey Anderson, San Francisco Examiner) France, 2000, French with English subtitles, color, 77mins, NR - Graphic sex and violence.

ABC Africa
Saturday, December 1st at 7pm and 9pm
Sunday, December 2nd at 3pm and 7pm

Abbas Kiarostami's ABC AFRICA is a mostly English-language documentary made by an Iranian filmmaker amidst the war-torn, AIDS-ravaged orphanages of Uganda. It is among Kiarostami's greatest works. Documentaries can serve many purposes: to inform, educate, shock and inspire. But Kiarostami manages to accomplish all of those functions at the same time that he transcends them. Though it is his first overtly "international" production (and his first fully non-fiction work in over a decade), ABC AFRICA is essentially, like all of Kiarostami's films, a breaking-away from specific national and cultural orientations to speak in a more universal tongue: a film without borders. ABC AFRICA will likely mean something different to each viewer who sees it. And while one suspects that the content and structure of the film will tempt critics to use the word "accessible" as a catch-all adjective, Kiarostami has acted out of no need to narrow the gap between those who do and don't "get" his work. It is, in short, the closest he has yet come to his ideal of a "poetic cinema," indebted more to the qualities of poetry and music than to the prosaic storytelling of theatrical-novelistic tradition. (Scott Foundas, IndieWIRE). Iran, 2001, color, English & Farsi, w/ English subtitles, 83 min., 35mm, unrated.

AÔe - Ouch!
Wednesday, December 5th at 7pm and 9:30pm

Robert is a charming, middle-aged man, who is torn by the evident joys of freedom and of commitment to a relationship. One day, he is taken by his sister to visit a friend of hers who has just given birth. Surprisingly, Robert already knows the woman: she is Claire, an ex-girlfriend of his. Robert finds his feelings for her are returning, but, at almost exactly the same time, he meets a beautiful young model. They talk, he is intrigued, and they begin to see more of each other. Her name is Marie-Pierre, but everyone calls her Aie, the French word for "ouch". At first, Robert and Aie look like a deeply mismatched couple, but soon, Robert falls head-over-heels in love with her. Then again there is Claire, whose understanding and restraint is the perfect counterpoint to the rather mysterious and unpredictable Aie. Caught between two women, which one will Robert choose? France, 2000, French w/ English subtitles, Color, 103 min., 35mm. This program was made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Ministry of Culture (CNC)

Vengo
Thursday, December 6th at 7pm and 9pm
Friday, December 7th at 7pm and 9pm
Sunday, December 9th at 9pm

The passionate, compelling Vengo, the latest film of veteran Gypsy writer-director Tony Gatlif, takes us into the proud and dangerous world of rival Spanish Gypsy clans whose obsession with vengeance is reflected in flamenco, their intoxicating music and dance. This highly stylized film, set in present-day Andalusia, might as well be set in antiquity, so consumed are its people with dying for their honor. Caco (celebrated flamenco dancer Antonio Canales), the leader of his clan, is enough of a man of the modern world to want to end the Gypsy allegiance to the vendetta, but he realizes this will be virtually impossible. Caco has witnessed the killing of his own daughter; Caco's brother has killed a member of the rival Caravacas clan; and now the brother's son Diego has been targeted. Caco has transferred the love of his late daughter to Diego, a handsome, sweet-natured youth afflicted by cerebral palsy. The happy and active Diego is so poignant in his vulnerability that Caco resolves to end the slaughter. Amid the splendor of ancient buildings and stretches of parched desert, Vengo casts its heady, fatalistic spell. (Ben Thomas, LA Times) France/Germany/Japan/Spain, 2000, French/ Spanish w/ English subtitles, Color, 90 min., 35mm.

The Deep End
Saturday, December 8th at 7pm and 9:15pm
Sunday, December 9th at 3pm and 7pm

You can1t fault a mom for looking out for her kid – or can you? That deceptively simple question mushrooms into an engrossing conundrum in The Deep End. Co-screenwriters/directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel find suspense and gut-wrenching human drama in the dilemma faced by Margaret Hall (Tilda Swinton), a slightly harried housewife and mother of three. One crisp, sunny morning Margaret goes for a constitutional near her home on the shores of Lake Tahoe. At the water1s edge, she finds the corpse of a man she believes to be her son1s lover. Assuming the worst – that her son has killed the man -– Margaret disposes of the stiff in another part of the lake. It1s the filmmakers1 clever conceit to portray this criminal act as a manifestation of maternal instinct. Her boy makes a mess; like a dutiful mom, Margaret cleans it up. Murder, however, is no ordinary mess. Siegel and McGehee take perverse delight in testing Margaret1s resolve with one complication after another. The filmmakers turn the screws skillfully and deliberately, building suspense in measured strokes and juxtaposing the normalcy of mundane family life with death, coverup and extortion. (Todd Anthony, Florida Sun Sentinel) USA, 2001, English, Color, 100 min, rated R, 35mm