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God only knows what will happen between now, the 13th Annual Washington,

D.C., International Film Festival, and next year’s installment. Will the

world say goodnight? If so, you’d be wise to catch many of this year’s

films before it does. But the bigger question is what won’t happen: The

city will not likely see an appreciable surge in its number of movie

screensóat least, not enough to break the overwhelming franchises that

Loews Cineplex and, to a lesser extent, AMC have on the District’s film

market. In any case, you’d better get moving, because many of the finer

offerings in this year’s Filmfest will be otherwise shut out by the sheer

lack of venues that constipates D.C.’s movie economy. And there are a lot

of intriguing arrivals. Among our reviewers’ favorites: Day of the Full

Moon, The Hole, The Book of Life, The Life Jacket Is Under Your Seat, and

The Milky Way.

This year, Filmfest D.C. brings in more than 75 films, 31 of which are

reviewed here by Washington City Paper film critics Arion Berger, Mark

Jenkins, and Joel E. Siegel. The program emphasizes Latin American film,

whose exemplars suggest that religious mysticism (Life Is to Whistle, The

Life Jacket Is Under Your Seat) and magical realism (Call of the Oboe, The

Day Silence Died) retain as firm a hold on storytelling in the region’s

film as they do in its literature.

It’s hard to tell if the other themes Filmfest delineates were decided

before or after the films were selected; given the extremely short lead

time with which the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities releases the

event’s schedule, it’s safe to guess the themes came afterward, but maybe

not. At any rate, the second major rubric this year, “2000 as Seen by…”

attempts to whip up a bit of millennial frenzy with films both small in

scope, such as The Wall (which suddenly divides a Belgian chips shop in

half on the last day of the millennium) and Támas and Juli (wherein work

commitments interfere with a New Year’s Eve date), and a bit more

ambitious, as in The Hole (about urban disaffection in Taipei) and The Book

of Life (in which Jesus and a Mary Magdalene figure do battle with Satan in

Manhattan).

Filmfest D.C. is also playing up themes such as “African and Afro-American

Interest,” “Global Rhythms,” “New French Cinema,” and “Year 2000,” but the

organizers could also have divined a category called “War’s Aftermath”; a

number of films (Courage, Regret to Inform, West Beirut, Dead Letter

Office, Buttoners) dwell on the fallout of particularly nasty political

conflicts.

Several of the titles in this year’s festival are awaiting commercial

releaseówhich is not, again, any assurance you’ll be able to see them here:

Jeanne and the Perfect Guy, My Son the Fanatic, The Acid House, and Late

August, Early September. For an additional few, Filmfest is bringing in the

films’ big-name directors, who do not seem uniformly at the top of their

game: Julio Medem comes off nearly as precious as ever with Lovers of the

Arctic Circle; and Francis VÈber imports his shopworn farce The Dinner

Game.

Three music documentaries stand out among the 10 music-oriented films this

year: Black Tears, a look at a group of Cuban musicians on tour that

outlasts its most compelling material; Bob Marley: Live in Concert, wherein

the quality of the music trumps the marginal quality of filmmaking; and

Duke Ellington on Film: A Tribute, a 40-year survey of the jazz great’s

career, coinciding with his centenary celebration here in his hometown.

Also of local interest this year are City at Peace, a film set in D.C. and

starring local kids whose viewpoints you’ll likely want to take in, and The

Sky Is Falling, a rather inane entry co-produced and shot in Los Angeles by

D.C. native David Parks. (If you must see the latter, you may want to wait

for a time when you won’t have to foot the Filmfest ticket price.) Tickets

to this year’s films are $7 unless otherwise noted; several selections

playing at the National Gallery or the Hirshhorn Museum on the Mall are

free.

23

Friday

The Call of the Oboe

Life comes to a remote, moribund Paraguayan town in the form of Brazilian

oboist Augusto (Paulo Betti), a man who intends to get away from it all but

instead finds himself enlisted by the beautiful Aurora (Leticia Vota) to

perform at the long-shuttered cinema she inherited from her father. Augusto

finds himself accompanying silent films from the theater’s dusty collection

of forgotten classics. The films and his music reinvigorate the town, whose

previous existence as a twilight zone between life and death is symbolized

by the patriarchóevery day, he is declared dead but crawls out of his

casket and returns home before he can be buried. Augusto plays better than

he ever did at home, receiving the admiration of the locals and the passion

of Auroraóa development that rankles her previous lover, the local police

commissioner. Claudio Mac Dowell’s film is gently surrealistic and sweetly

life-affirming in a way that has become routine in Latin American fiction

and cinema; it should charm those who have a taste for magical realism, but

is unlikely to convert those who don’t. (MJ)

At 6:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Sunday, April 25, at

8:45 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Director Claudio Mac Dowell is

scheduled to introduce the film and answer questions after each screening.

Divine

The latest costume drama from Mexican fabulist Arturo Ripstein (recently

saluted by a National Gallery retrospective) is based on the millennial

nonsense of a ’70s Mexican sect.

At 6:30 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater; $15 includes reception

following screening. Also screens Sunday, April 25, at 4 p.m. at the

National Gallery of Art; free.

Jeanne and the Perfect Guy

The movie musical continues its unlikely revival with this tale of romance

between a young woman (Virginie Ledoyen) and an HIV-positive man. This

film, which has been compared to the work of Jacques Demy (and stars his

son Mathieu), has a commercial distributor.

At 6:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Saturday, April 24, at

9:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

Stowaways

Can you imagine being locked in a cargo container with five other illegal

immigrants on a ship from France to Canada? Well, it’s worse than that, as

writer-directors Denis Chouinard and Nicolas Wadimoff’s cautionary tale

vividly demonstrates. Sweaty, claustrophobic, and ultimately grisly, this

is No Exit with a social-drama chaser: Hell is other people, and that’s

before you encounter immigration officers. The stowaways are a Romanian

mother and her young deaf daughter, an Arab man and woman (not a couple), a

wily Gypsy boy, and a callous Russian, confined tensely together when the

ship’s engine fails midocean and the refugees’ food and water run out.

Although this film was shot with amateur performers in a documentary style,

it’s not guileless. The close-quarters format suggests TV drama, and the

impact is heightened by Bill Laswell’s canny worldbeat score. Gripping but

not revelatory, this Swiss-Canadian-French-Belgian co-production plays a

bit like an official government film on how not to emigrate. (MJ)

At 6:45 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Thursday, April 29, at

9 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater.

The Day Silence Died

The silence dies in the aptly named Bolivian village of Villaserena when a

sinister stranger named Abelardo arrives to set up a radio station. Since

the town has no electricity and Abelardo has no transmitter, what the

newcomer constructs is actually not a radio station but a glorified

public-address system. He puts a speaker in the town square and plays

records through it, offering people a chance to make public dedications and

denunciations at a cost of, respectively, one or two pesos. Soon the

villagers are airing their private grievances to the whole town, and the

formerly placid populace is getting testy. Still, the ensuing chaos has one

potential benefit: It just might liberate young beauty Celeste, who’s been

imprisoned by her father ever since her mother ran away with another man.

Paolo Agazzi’s film takes a while to get going and has rote magical-realist

touches that have turned a bit gamy in Latin American fiction, but it’s a

competent example of the stranger-in-South-American-town (see The Call of

the Oboe) genre. (MJ)

At 8 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Sunday, April 25, at 9

p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Paolo Agazzi is scheduled to introduce the

film and answer questions after each screening.

Courage

This docudrama follows the last months in the life of a Peruvian woman who

was killed by Shining Path guerrillas for leading a grass-roots campaign

against its violence.

At 9 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Saturday, April 24, at

6:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Director Alberto Durant is scheduled

to introduce the film and answer questions after each screening.

Regret to Inform

Cleanly photographed and told without sentiment, this film takes director

Barbara Sonneborn to Vietnam 30 years after her husband was killed in the

war there. Sonneborn is a generous filmmaker who puts her own sadness aside

for most of the movie, although it rises like yeast as she asks other war

widows, both American and Vietnamese, to tell their stories. Interviews

with the poised women contrast with photos and footage of their

husbandsóplayful, proud, and forever young. The stories of the American

womenóblack, white, Native American, and Asian-Americanóare naturally

poignant, and the memories of Vietnamese wives and partisans are tragic;

Sonneborn displays no judgment as they recall their undercover activities

in trying to thwart the American troops, and the devastation of their

families and villages. Regret to Inform has a measured, weary tone

genuinely invested in healing the wounds of the Vietnam War (which the

Vietnamese call the American War). Finally, Sonneborn visits the place

where her husband died, also the hometown of her friend and translator, who

recounts her own horrific tale of prostitution and rebirth. The movie is

padded by much countryside footage and ends, predictably but movingly, at

twin memorials to the war dead. But the women’s memories are horribly fresh

and realó”From then on,” says a Vietnamese woman, “nothing was black or

whiteóit was all gray, like the smoke [from my burning house].” (AB)

At 9 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater. Also screens Saturday,

April 24, at noon at the American Film Institute Theater, followed by a

panel discussion. Director Barbara Sonneborn is scheduled to introduce the

film and answer questions after each screening.

The Book of Life

Like many Hal Hartley films, this one begins with the arrival in New York

of a stranger who will disrupt the other characters’ livesóand the stranger

is played by Martin Donovan. But this droll 63-minute entertainment (part

of a seven-film series, “2000 as Seen by…”) packs a theological kick: The

stranger is Jesus, returned on Dec. 31, 1999, with his sidekick Magdalena

(the limited but compelling P.J. Harvey) to fulfill the prophecies of

Revelation. The Book of Life is now an Apple Powerbook, but despite the

simplicity of opening the Seven SealsóJesus need only double-clickóthe

Messiah is reluctant to activate the apocalypse. He’d rather duel with

Satan (Henry Fool star Thomas Jay Ryan) for the soul of a Manhattan

waitress than follow the bidding of an ominous radio preacher (with the

voice of William Burroughs) or his attorneys at Armageddon, Armageddon and

Joseph. With its swooping, blurry digital-video visuals, chant-rock score,

and eschatological humor, the film is for specialized tastes. Despite

turning a bit sententious at the end, however, it’s one of Hartley’s best.

(MJ)

Screens with Airtime at 9:15 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Both films

also screen Monday, April 26, at 9:15 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

How to Be Single in Rio

Beautiful young Brazilians couple, uncouple, and recouple in this drearily

predictable (and sexless) sex comedy set among the middle-class

internationalist young adults of Rio. Schoolteacher Monica is shaken when

her third boyfriend in a row turns out to be gay, while journalist Claudio

is desperate for female companionship. Claudio turns to his friend Ricardo,

a beach bum and lothario who gives Claudio seduction lessons that are

successful enough to lead Ricardo to write a book with the same title as

the movie. Claudio beds Monica but quickly moves on, as Ricardo has

advised. Meanwhile, Ricardo’s girlfriend Julia, a sushi-shop employee who

just happens to be Monica’s roommate, finds Ricardo in bed with another

woman; she decides to get revenge by becoming a lesbian and running for the

city council on an anti-men platform. The only point of all this

mock-polymorphous sexual politicking is, of course, to unite the central

couple in holy matrimony. (MJ)

At 9:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Sunday, April 25, at

6:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Director Rosane Svartman is scheduled

to introduce the film and answer questions after each screening.

24

Saturday

Filmfest D.C. for Kids, Program I

“The Happy Horse and the Monster” and “The Apartment Cat” are among the

nine animated shorts in this program, recommended for ages 3 to 7.

At 1 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum. Also screens at the National Gallery of

Art Monday, April 26, at 10:30 a.m. and noon; Wednesday, April 28, at noon,

and Saturday, May 1, at 10:30 a.m. Free.

Filmfest D.C. for Kids, Program II

An Irish duck who has missed his flight south is befriended by a vole in

one of the six animated and live-action shorts in this program, recommended

for ages 6 to 10.

At 2 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum. Also screens at the National Gallery of

Art Tuesday, April 27, at 10:30 a.m. and noon; Wednesday, April 28, at

10:30 a.m.; and Saturday, May 1, at 11:30 a.m. Free.

Filmfest D.C. for Kids, Program III

Videos by young filmmakers and a short documentary about Rosa Parks are

included in this program, recommended for ages 8 and up.

At 3 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum. Also screens at the National Gallery of

Art Thursday, April 29, at 10:30 a.m. and noon; and Friday, April 30, at

10:30 a.m. and noon. Free.

Peter Pan

Herbert Brenon’s 1924 silent film (based on the play by James M. Barrie)

has been restored and retouched with “authentic color tints.”

At 3 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art. Free.

Rosebud Film and Video Awards: 1999 Winners Showcase

Includes Family, by Aaron Skillman and Andy Marchal; Rocky IV, by Rachel

Max; Puberty: Benji’s Special Time, by Luke Fannin; The Pitch, by Rob

Lyall, Alex LaGory, and Joe Talbott; and the Best of Show winner, Without

Remorse, by Gregg Watt.

At 3 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater. A “Meet the Filmmakers”

panel discussion follows.

Short Stuff I

In “The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun,” a crippled but unbowed Dakar girl

takes on her persecutors; while “Story of the Red Rose” is a Cuban love

story inspired by Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales. Program includes three other

shorts.

At 5 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater.

The Lighthouse

Sensitive acting and intense, observant direction make this affecting

family tale come to lifeóEduardo Mignogna captures with tender precision

the bruised resilience of sisterly love. Aneta and Carmela (called Meme),

survivors of a car crash that has left them orphans, make their own way in

the world, bolstered by only Meme’s brash impulsiveness and Aneta’s quiet

smarts. They move from the house of their strange aunts, haunted by a

future vision of themselves also living alone together and neurotically

interdependent, to Montevideo and other more accommodating shores. Even as

Meme’s gamine spontaneity turns to self-destructiveness and Aneta matures

into a self-possessed young woman, the sisters’ connection to one another

and the things they loveóforgiving bar owner Fernando, the seaside cabin in

which he harbored them, their family photo album and private jokesóremains

strong. Moving, challenging, and never less than honest, The Lighthouse

draws a partial but strongly etched family portrait. (AB)

At 7 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Monday, April 26, at 9

p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

My Son the Fanatic

Scripted by Hanif Kureishi from his own story, this is the account of a

Westernized Anglo-Pakistani man who’s upset when his son rebels by

unearthing his ethnic and religious roots. It’s been picked up by Miramax,

so it must be pretty mainstream.

At 7 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Saturday, May 1, at 7:30

p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

Dancing North

Smirking, greasy-haired Franco is burnt out with the business of Italian

rock stardom and the stress of European life, so he makes for chillier

climesóthe frozen reaches of Inuit Canadaóto clear his head. Paolo

Quaregna’s by-the-numbers plot follows Franco as he undergoes a familiar

cultural exchange with the Inuit: He teaches them to appreciate their

traditional music; their slow-moving world offers him inner peace and

warrior skills. The villagers and their challenges are interesting on their

own meritsówithout Franco’s interference or intrusive European viewpoint.

But even if we must experience their world through his cynical eyes,

Quaregna stays away from the noble-savage school of non-European

appreciation, making this gently humorous but unoriginal film an

interesting keyhole into the Inuits’ world. (AB)

At 7:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Monday, April 26, at 7

p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

Duke Ellington: A Tribute on Film

This collection of celluloid highlights marks the centenary of Ellington’s

birth.

At 7:30 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater. Also screens Sunday,

April 25, at 4:30 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater.

The Acid House

This adaptation of three stories by Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh has

been hailed as the first movie that truly evokes Welsh’s drug-crazed

Scottish demimonde. It has a commercial distributor.

At 9 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Sunday, April 25, at 7

p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

Little Thieves, Big Thieves

In this suspense-comedy, four ordinary Venezuelans decide to rob the bank

they think has been abusing them, only to find that someone else has gotten

there first.

At 9:30 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater. Also screens Sunday,

April 25, at 8:45 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater. Director

Alejandro Saderman is scheduled to introduce the film and answer questions

after each screening.

Winter Land

The ghosts of B. Traven and Samuel Beckett haunt this static but smoothly

crafted absurdist allegory directed and co-scripted by Gregorio Cramer.

Valdivia (Ricardo Bartis), a simian, alcoholic layabout, drifts through the

arid badlands and deserted seaside towns of Patagonia, halfheartedly

searching for a golden sheep. In his wanderings, he loves and loses a

sluttish swimming instructress and shares his derelict car with an elderly

con man whom he encounters in jail. Starkly photographed and evocatively

scored, Winter Land is art cinema with a capital A, often punishing but

occasionally enlivened by flashes of dour wit. However, the unexpectedly

upbeat denouement may leave viewers wondering whether Cramer’s otherwise

nihilistic odyssey was worth enduring. (JES)

At 9:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Monday, April 26, at 7

p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

25

Sunday

Black Filmmaking in the New Millennium

This panel discussion, focusing on the African-American film movement,

follows screenings of D.C. filmmaker Lucy Gebre-Egziabher’s Weti’s Poem and

Alison Swan’s Mixing Nia. Panelists include Gebre-Egziabher and Swan along

with filmmaker Patrick Charles; Kay Shaw, founder of Amber Images; and

Stacy Spikes, founder of the Urbanworld Film Festival.

From noon to 3 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater.

Directors’ Roundtable

Several directors with films showing at Filmfest D.C. talk about their

work. Moderated by Variety film critic Eddie Cockrell.

At 3 p.m. at Borders Books and Music, 1800 L St. NW.

West Beirut

Wildly funny, tender, and raucous, West Beirut finds Lebanese filmmaker

Ziad Doueiri hardly able to keep up with his teenage fictional

protagonists, intelligent tearaway Tarek and pint-sized would-be toughie

Omar, as they careen through the streets of half their city during the 1975

civil war. With school closed and all bets off, Beirut in a state of siege

is like a holiday paradise at first for Tarek, whose panicked lawyer mother

wants to leave, and Omar, whose family responds to the crisis by deepening

its piety. Tarek and Omar’s mission is to have some rolls of mildly

salacious Super 8 film developed, a project that can only be accomplished

in what is now called East Beirut, which is unpassable to Christians and

Muslims alike. Joined by sultry Christian May, the footloose teens scam

falafel off the local vendor, fast-talk the dauntingly armed militia, and

ride their bikes through sniper fire, never quite understanding the depth

of the danger. Doueiri’s film is charming and high-spirited, the actors are

blazingly fresh and real, and the whole exercise resonates with low tones

of grief and fear that become audible only at the end. (AB)

At 6:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Monday, April 26, at

8:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Director Ziad Doueiri is scheduled to

introduce the film and answer questions after each screening.

Black Tears

Sonia Herman Dolz documents the music and personal stories of the members

of La Vieja Trova Santiaguera, a Cuban quintet of singer-instrumentalists

ranging in age from 62 to 84. Footage of the group’s 1997 international

tour is intercut with interviews about their life experiences and glimpses

of backstage camaraderie. Sustained by love of music and homeland before

and after the revolution, these lively geezers (especially a cheerfully

unrepentant womanizer) make engaging camera subjects and share a touching

moment of reverence at Karl Marx’s graveside. But the repetitiveness of

their otherwise appealing music and the rather arbitrary structure of

Dolz’s film suggest that Black Tears (the title derives from one of the

ensemble’s rueful love songs) would make a stronger impact as a shorter

documentary rather than in its present feature-length form. (JES)

Screens with The Spitball Story at 9:15 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

Both films also screen Monday, April 26, at 6:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon

Foundry.

26

Monday

Autumn Tale

For fans of Eric Rohmer’s chatty, love-struck comedies, the third in his

series of seasonal fables is a sure bet. This account of two longtime

friends’ experiments in matchmaking has a commercial distributor.

At 6:30 p.m. at AMC Union Station 9. Also screens Tuesday, April 27, at

6:30 p.m. at AMC Union Station 9.

Twice Upon a Yesterday

Director María Ripoll’s refreshing comic-romantic fantasy enlivens this

year’s typically somber Filmfest fare. Struggling London actor Victor

(Douglas Henshall) is dumped by his longtime live-in psychologist

girlfriend, Sylvia (Lena Headey), after confessing to an affair with an

actress. Drunk and despondent, he encounters two enigmatic Spanish

trashmen, who magically empower him to relive the past year of his life.

This time around, Victor withstands the temptations that previously led him

astray, but the wisdom of hindsight isn’t sufficient to repair his

relationship with Sylvia, who also turns out to have a roving eye.

Vibrantly photographed, brightly acted by an ensemble of attractive young

performers, and filled with unpredictable narrative twists, Ripoll’s effort

puts recent, leaden Hollywood romantic comedies to shame. She incorporates

colorful footage of London’s annual Notting Hill carnival and sly allusions

to Cervantes to support her thesis that fulfillment cannot be attained

retrospectively. (JES)

At 6:30 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater. Also screens Tuesday,

April 27, at 8:45 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater.

Dead Letter Office

Still missing the father who disappeared when she was a little girl, Alice

(Miranda Otto, almost as bewildered but plucky as in Love Serenade) decides

to get a job at the place that always sent back her missives to Daddy: the

dead letter office in a sleepy, surfside Australian city. “Information is

not always enough,” warns Alice’s new boss, Frank (George DelHoyo), a

Chilean exile with family traumas of his own. Director John Ruane’s

pleasant, predictable film is another one of those more-sweet-than-bitter

Australian tragicomedies about lovable misfits (and their pet pigeons);

despite references to the atrocities committed by Pinochet’s regime, this

film is not likely to ruffle any feathers. Alice’s obsession, Frank’s

tragedy, and the very status of the dead letter office itself are all

subject to change, but change can be good. Loss may be this film’s theme,

but its emphasis is on the reassuring possibility of finding a new life.

(MJ)

At 6:45 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Tuesday, April 27, at

7:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. George DelHoyo is scheduled to

introduce the film and answer questions after each screening.

The Sky Is Falling

Director Florrie Laurence calls in favorsófrom Teri Garr, Howard Hesseman,

Dedee Pfeiffer, Laura Leighton, and othersófor this foolish, incoherent

comedy about a struggling writer at a crossroads of sorts. Because the film

is set in the screenwriters’ Los Angeles Neverland, Emily Hall’s life isn’t

too terribleówhat temp could afford her beautiful house? But it is supposed

to be tragicomic that the same day her boyfriend walks out and her mother

(Garr) announces that her real father (Hesseman) is alive and living

nearby, Emily (Pfeiffer) attends a lunch where each of three friends

announces, with ninnyish squeals of delight, some great achievement: a

pregnancy, a marriage proposal, “They made me editor in chief!” The Sky Is

Falling is a dingbat of a movie, smushing together an announcement of a

high school reunion, recurring news of a Chinese space satellite about to

crash into Earth, silly intertitles setting up sequences in which Emily

images killing herself, and a tidy arrangement of dad substitutes and

family catharses. There isn’t an original moment in sight, from the cranky

old man redeemed by a big friendly dog to the zany montages of Emily

swamped by the demands of temp work. (AB)

At 7:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Tenley. Co-producer David Parks is scheduled

to introduce the film and answer questions afterward.

Nothing

Rarely have content and form been as ill-matched as in Polish

writer-director Dorota Kedzierzawska’s Nothing, a film that lives down to

its unpromising title. Hela (rabbity Anita Borkowska-Kuskowska), a

feminist’s nightmare, lives in a squalid tenement with an abusive husband

(whom she blindly adores), three small, rowdy children, and, unbeknownst to

her mate, another baby on the way. Too impoverished to afford a private

abortionóa doctor refuses to accept her wedding ring as paymentóand

rejected by a state medical system in the grip of right-to-lifers, she is

forced to resolve the problem herself. Whatever empathy the movie attempts

to engender for its dim, hapless victim-protagonist is canceled out by

Kedzierzawska’s insufferably pretentious visual style. Virtually every

image is fussily backlit, bathed in an amber glow, and shot through

textured scrims. Not even the most ardent advocates of reproductive rights

are likely to regard Nothing as contributing much to their cause or to the

art of cinema. (JES)

At 8:30 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater. Also screens Friday,

April 30, at 7 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater.

Buttoners

This Czech absurdist black comedy mixes real and fictional events,

imagining a world that’s literally haunted by the bombing of Hiroshima.

At 9 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Saturday, May 1, at 6:30

p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

Life Is to Whistle

The lives of three Cubans intersect on the Day of Santa Barbara, who is

also the destiny-controlling Santería god Chango.

At 9 p.m at AMC Union Station 9. Luis Alberto Garcia is scheduled to

introduce the film and answer questions afterward.

27

Tuesday

Dance Me to My Song

Australian director Rolf de Heer’s account of an affection-starved woman

with cerebral palsy is more persuasive than its recent English counterpart,

The Theory of Flight, although not without some improbably serendipitous

plot turns. Julia (co-writer Heather Rose) lives alone with the assistance

of Madelaine (Joey Kennedy), who is none too nice. One day, when she’s been

abandoned yet again by Madelaine, Julia wheels herself outside, where she

enlists the help of a passer-by, Eddie (John Brumpton). The agreeable but

mysterious Eddie becomes Julia’s regular gentleman caller, eliciting

jealousy from Madelaine, whose own search for love keeps turning up

rough-edged losers. It’s a classic triangle, albeit one in which Julia is

physically dependent on her callous rival. Dance Me to My Song is typical

of the new breed of film about severe physical handicaps: It’s

discomfortingly messy in places, but the resolution is tidy. (MJ)

At 6:30 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater. Also screens Thursday,

April 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater.

Sweety Barrett

If you’re familiar with the goodhearted simpleton who blows into a mythical

Irish town and finds himself mixed up with thugs, corrupt cops, and the

mother of a young boy, you get the idea of Stephen Bradley’s derivative

shaggy-dog comedy. Brendan Gleeson stars as the slow-witted former

fire-eater who lands in smuggler-ridden Dockery only to unintentionally

redeem everyone around him with his sweetness and plodding good nature.

Along the way, he inspires dreams of circus magic in a small child, charms

a hardworking mother, and earns the respect of the raffish underground by

imbibing numerous glasses of hideous liquids. The film is a pale, poorly

paced distant cousin of more vigorous but similarly cheeky-deadpan U.K.

efforts like I Went Down (in which Gleeson also starred) and Lock, Stock

and Two Smoking Barrels. (AB)

At 6:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Thursday, April 29, at

7:15 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

The Dinner Game

Dinner theater without the dinner. Yet another pre-Hollywood tryout from

playwright-screenwriter-director Francis VÈber, France’s Neil Simon, whose

scripts regularly inspire American remakesósome amusing (Quick Change, The

Birdcage), but most painfully mirthless (Buddy, The Toy, Father’s Day). In

this tepid farce, painstakingly crafted not to disturb the tired

businessman’s slumber, supercilious publisher Pierre (Thierry Lhermitte)

searches for a guest to bring to a dinner party thrown by his rich, cynical

pals competing to invite the evening’s dumbest bore. He chooses FranÁois

(Jacques Villeret), a government accountant who builds reproductions of

famous monuments with matchsticks. To his chagrin, Pierre injures his back

before departing for the party, leaving himself stuck at home with obtuse

but kindhearted FranÁois. During a long, eventful evening, FranÁois

attempts to help his host resolve a series of crises with his wife,

mistress, and tax auditor, with the predictable consequence of making each

situation worse. Apart from several opening location sequences, VÈber does

nothing to disguise the one-set theatrical origins of his movie; even the

Eiffel Tower glimpsed from Pierre’s apartment window is plainly constructed

of pasteboard. A mechanical mÈlange of meanness and synthetic pathos, The

Dinner Game is too formulaic to merit inclusion in a film festival whose

selections presumably aspire to some degree of artistic merit. If you must

see it, wait for the inevitable Robin Williams-Adam Sandler remake

unencumbered by subtitles. (JES)

At 7 p.m. at the Embassy of France, followed by a reception; $15; director

Francis VÈber is scheduled to introduce the film and answer questions

afterward. Also screens Thursday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon

Tenley; $7.

The Life Jacket Is Under Your Seat

Glittery, trashy, full of manic counterculture energy, Leonardo Ricagni’s

rock ‘n’ roll fable spins off wild-style images like a lawn sprinkler. This

Uruguayan entry features a funk-band Jesus figure named Tuleque, who looks

like Frank Zappa and loves a hard-faced Mary Magdelene evocatively called

Angela. Gravelly, deadpan narration (in English) tracks Tuleque’s

involvement in Montevideo’s pulsating underground and spiritual life as he

vows to lead his funk band to victory in a battle of the bands that will

save the Great Holy Water Sanctuary from the drug lords and pimps who

oppress the People. If the premise sounds dated and idealistic, it is, but

Life Jacket’s scrappy charm lies in its optimistic presumptionóit dares to

cast its colorful underdog story as a modern Christian revolution,

graffiti-scarred and gleaming with a chromelike silver-blue surface. And if

the sight of Zappa quoting Ecclesiastes in an Uruguayan town square is as

ridiculous as it is heartfelt, well, who said faithóin pleasure, rock ‘n’

roll, and faith itselfóhad to make sense? (AB)

At 7 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Wednesday, April 28, at 7

p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Director Leonardo Ricagni is scheduled to

introduce the film and answer questions after each screening.

City at Peace

Susan Koch films an interracial group of 60 young people in D.C. who

volunteered to write and perform a theater project over the course of a

year. The resulting show, also called City at Peace, is nothing newóthe

sort of heartfelt, scrappy blend of fictionalized violence and despair

interspersed with optimistic, pro-self-esteem songs that has been touring

schools since the late ’60s. The performance is just a small protesting

drop in D.C.’s ocean of racism and divisiveness, but the real

transformation takes places in the kids’ own minds. Transcending their

suspicion and distrust, they form a bond much more genuine and passionate

than those called for by platitude-spouting civic leaders. Koch assumes

good intentions and high spirits among the program’s directors and mostly

leaves them alone, instead keeping the camera where it belongsóon the kids

and their inspiring ability to love and trust in the face of ghastly odds.

(AB)

At 7:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Tenley. Director Susan Koch and music

director Rickey Payton Sr. are scheduled to introduce the film and answer

questions afterward.

Black Cat, White Cat

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Emir Kusturica, director of the controversial Yugoslavian-cataclysm epic

Underground, returns to the milieu of his Time of the Gypsies with a tale

of feuding families. This film has a commercial distributor.

At 8 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Wednesday, April 28, at

8:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

The Polish Bride

Karim TraÔdia’s film opens with a scene of thumping panic: A bloodied woman

runs down a street and into the countryside to the accompaniment of a

percussion score. It’s gradually revealed that the woman is Anna, a Pole

who has been forced to labor in an Amsterdam brothel. She finds refuge with

Henk, a taciturn Dutch farmer who lives alone on an overmortgaged spread.

Because they don’t speak each other’s language, Anna and Henkóand the

audienceóare slow to learn each other’s stories. Still, Anna is not shy

about taking over Henk’s domestic life, tidying him up, making him Polish

meals, and insisting that he pray with her before dinner. Largely

untempered by conversation, their growing romance has an adolescent

flirtatiousness. Eventually, the bad guys find Anna, precipitating a few

scenes you may vaguely remember from Witness. Despite the violence, this

story is meant to be heartwarming, although Anna and Henk’s alliance seems

less ardent than simply convenient. (MJ)

At 8:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

The Lovers of the Arctic Circle

Those who find Spanish director Julio Medem’s films wildly poetic will know

what to expect from this one. So will those who find them overblown and

pointlessly contrived. Ana and Ottoótwo Madrid kids with palindromic names,

which is supposed to signify somethingómeet at age 8. Otto instantly falls

in love with Ana, although her fascination with him initially stems from

her belief that her recently deceased father is speaking through him. (Yes,

really.) Later, her mother and his father move in together, so Ana and Otto

become live-in lovers at 14. (Good deal if you can arrange it.) He’s

obsessed with airplanes; she’s obsessed with the Arctic Circle. (No, this

isn’t Map of the Human Heart.) Ultimately, the fated couple’s destiny

involves both flying and northern Finland. It’s all lushly romantic,

unapologetically self-conscious, and rather sillyóalthough this certainly

isn’t Medem’s silliest work. (MJ)

At 8:45 p.m. at AMC Union Station 9. Also screens Wednesday, April 28, at

6:30 p.m. at AMC Union Station 9. Director Julio Medem is scheduled to

introduce the film and answer questions afterward.

28

Wednesday

Day of the Full Moon

Slacker, Citizen Kane, BuÒuel’s autumnal sketch films, and the Monty Python

troupe are just a few of the more obvious inspirations for Russian director

Karen Shakhnazarov’s extraordinary Day of the Full Moon. Challenging our

assumptions about linear screen narrative, Shakhnazarov assembles a chain

of provocative, enigmatic vignettes, any one of which could have provided

the substance of a more conventional movie. Transitions from character to

character (military men, prostitutes, jazz musicians, assassins, even

Pushkin) are ingeniously effected by manipulating myriad modes of

transportation (buses, cars, trains, planes) and communication media

(radio, television, music, books, photographs). At one point, we even enter

the mind of an old dog as he recalls his youthful hunting days. The poetic

nexus of these seemingly random snippets zigzagging freely through time and

space is a beautiful, aloof woman in a violet dress who appears in three

sequences and returns for the haunting final shot. With exquisite

photography and an endlessly inventive and audacious structure,

Shakhnazarov teases the mind and the senses. It’s the kind of movie that

justifies the existence of film festivals. (JES)

At 6:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Thursday, April 29, at

9 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

The Soup to Nuts of Independent Film

This panel discussion, moderated by writer-director Morgan J. Freeman, will

focus on the process of creating an independent film. Participants include

Andre Hereford, director of development for 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks;

Amanda Klein, director of acquisitions and production at October Films;

Mary Jane Skalski, vice president of creative affairs at Good Machine; and

Three Seasons producer Joana Vicente.

From 6 to 8 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater.

The Milky Way

In 1964, 16 years after the war that killed some of its inhabitants and

permanently scarred others, a Palestinian town is still under brutal

Israeli military rule. The Israelis are a minor, if malevolent, presence in

director and co-writer Ali Nassar’s film, which is more concerned with how

the members of a small, impoverished village turn on each other. The action

flows from two events: The Israelis discover that someone in the town has

forged work permits, and the chief local elder decides that the quickest

way to end the controversy is to accuse an innocent man; meanwhile, a

paragon of the local community competes with the magistrate’s corrupt,

impious son to marry a local woman. Ultimately, these two problems

intertwine too conveniently, but in the process this remarkable film

presents a rich, vivid, and occasionally humorous portrait of the village

and its inhabitants. The source of the film’s title is the Palestinian

parable that “disasters come from the Milky Way,” but Nassar’s nuanced

chronicle of everyday occupied-zone disasters is impeccably human. (MJ)

At 6:45 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Saturday, May 1, at

9:15 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

Wind With the Gone

Yet another movie about a tiny but magical cinema in a remote Latin

American town. This time the theater is in Argentinian Patagonia, where the

old reels have become jumbled and the movies’ discontinuity inspires local

eccentricity.

At 7:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Tenley. Also screens Friday, April 30, at 7

p.m. at the National Geographic Society.

Am I Beautiful?

The latest from German director Doris Dörrie, who reached American

art-house screens with Men, presents a skein of overlapping stories.

At 8:30 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater. Also screens Saturday,

May 1, at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater.

Tangos Are for Two

In ’30s Buenos Aires, a small-time tango singer’s beautiful new lover

convinces him to remake himself in the image of tango superstar Carlos

Gardel. Director Jaime Chávarri will introduce the film.

At 8:30 p.m. at AMC Union Station 9. Also screens Thursday, April 29, at

6:45 p.m. at AMC Union Station 9. Director Jaime Chávarri is scheduled to

introduce the film and answer questions after each screening.

CineCafe: The Lovers of the Arctic Circle

Immediately follows Arctic Circle screening at AMC Union Station 9.

At 8:45 p.m. at B. Smith’s restaurant at Union Station; free.

The May Lady

An Iranian woman dares to date again after her divorce in this movie from

female Iranian director Rakshan Bani-Etemad, whose competent but

conventional Nargess showed in last year’s Filmfest.

At 9 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Thursday, April 29, at

9:15 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

Following

Director Christopher Nolan’s London-based caper flick has been compared to

The Usual Suspectsówhich explains why it has a commercial distributor.

At 9:15 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Friday, April 30, at

9:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

29

Thursday

I.D.

Mani Kongo, King of Bakongo, returns to Brussels to seek his daughter,

encountering a cast of dozens of Belgians and Europeanized Africans who

have no idea what to make of a genuine fetish-wearing king. Mweze

Ngangura’s gentle comedy of manners collapses racial barriers to talk about

the true social plague of classismóMani Kongo receives less-than-kingly

treatment as a black man while discovering a culture that worships money

and power only in forms it recognizes. Along the way, there are a nightclub

holdup artist disguised in African ceremonial wear; a snotty private club

for expats, the “Africa House”; spiritualistic neo-black Renaissance youth

who speak reverently of their ancestryóthe very ancestry Kongo wears in the

form of an elaborate headdress; and a sweet biracial taxi driver who tells

the king he doesn’t know his daughter. “Well, it figures,” harrumphs the

king. “You’re hardly from the same class.” But everyone finds what he’s

looking foróeach person’s trademark identityówhether it’s love, family, or

contentment. (AB)

At 6:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Friday, April 30, at

6:45 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Director Mweze Ngangura is scheduled

to introduce the film and answer questions after each screening.

The Hole

In his wry contribution to Filmfest D.C.’s “2000 as Seen by…” series,

Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang returns to his familiar theme: the

overlapping but disconnected lives of alienated Taipei residents. In fact,

this account of two apartment dwellers (Tsai veterans Lee Kang-sheng and

Yang Kuei-mei) who are tormented by unfixable leaks recasts one of the

stories in his previous film The River. Playfully, though, this time the

director and co-writer adds apocalyptic and musical flourishes. As the year

2000 approaches, a plague sweeps the city, turning its victims into human

cockroaches. If that’s a little too Kafkaesque, Tsai leavens the

allegorical cataclysm with some Busby Berkeley: The couple’s sublimated

romance is interrupted by five musical numbers, staged in the bleak

confines of their poured-concrete apartment block but illuminated by

candy-colored lights and lip-synched to the bouncy show tunes of ’50s Hong

Kong pop chanteuse Grace Chang. Tsai’s style remains deadpan and minimalist

(think Antonioni and, especially, Akerman), but the underlying humor of his

existential contemplation of Taipei’s scurrying, insectlike residents has

never been more evident. (MJ)

At 7 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Friday, April 30, at 7:30

p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

Bob Marley: Live in Concert

The music is a lot more impressive than the filmmaking in Stefan Paul’s

documentary, which consists mostly of material shot at a German concert in

1980, less than a year before Marley’s death. The vastly influential

singer-songwriter and his band perform such classics as “No Woman No Cry,”

“War,” “Get Up Stand Up,” and “Lively Up Yourself” in the film, which

includes a few songs from a 1979 Jamaican performance. Interspersed are

footage from Marley’s funeral, tracking shots of a Jamaican shantytown, and

one split-screen sequence, all of which make this look like a concert film

that wanted to grow up to be a documentary, but then ran out of nerveóor

money. (MJ)

At 9 p.m. at AMC Union Station 9.

Late August, Early September

The latest from Olivier (Irma Vep) Assayas is a tale of post-breakup

adjustment that has been described as a change of pace for the first-rate

French director. This film has a commercial distributor.

At 9:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Friday, April 30, at

6:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

30

Friday.

Stormy Weather

Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, and Fats Waller star in this tribute to legendary

dancer and actor Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, who also has a lead role.

At 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater; free.

Buena Vista Social Club

Director Wim Wenders (with a camera crew) tags along when his frequent

collaborator, guitarist Ry Cooder, travels to Cuba to make an album with

veteran Cuban jazz players. Scheduled to open commercially this spring.

At 9 p.m. at the National Geographic Society.

Divine Trash

This documentary about Washington’s strangest cinematic neighbor, director

John Waters, includes behind-the-scenes footage from the making of Pink

Flamingos.

At 9 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater. Also screens Saturday,

May 1, at 9:30 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater. Director Steve

Yeager is scheduled to introduce the film and answer questions after each

screening.

Full Moon

On a single Friday morning, 12 Swiss children disappear, seemingly off the

face of the planet, and it’s up to weary gumshoe Anatol Wasser to put

together the pieces of this baffling mystery. The singular motives of

childhood, the solipsistic insecurity of adults, and the metaphysics of

fate are the real issues here, and director Fredi M. Murer pulls no punches

in following the course of this story’s destiny to its cruel, austere end.

Unaware that he himself is the link in the children’s disappearance, Wasser

travels about Switzerland interviewing the parentsórich or poor, artistic,

intellectual, conservative or achingly “green,” each household is united in

its resistance to understanding the children’s motives and desires. Murer

strings his detective along at a leisurely pace, involving him in the

personal life of one divorced mother, as mysterious dreams, identical

letters, and Ouija-board clues are visited upon the tormented but selfish

parents. Full Moon is frightening and cool, rigorously true to its theme of

the inevitability of despair. (AB)

At 9 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Saturday, May 1, at 8:45

p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

The Ice Rink

The French love to make movies about moviemaking, among them Contempt, Day

for Night, and Irma Vep. Writer-director Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s The Ice

Rink is the latest and by far the least of these, a slapstick comedy

chronicling the production of Dolores, a romantic drama set in a hockey

arena. The company, headed by a pretentious director (Tom Novembre) given

to quoting Bresson’s Notes on Cinematography, includes an aggressive

producer (Marie-France Pisier) rushing to complete the film in time for the

Venice Film Festival, an American leading man (Bruce Campbell) distracted

by an affair with his leading lady (DolorËs Chaplin), a boisterous

Lithuanian hockey team, a camera crew whose lights melt the ice, and

intrusive television reporters shooting a documentary about Dolores’

genesis. Most of the humor, such as it is, derives from a single, numbingly

repetitious gagónobody connected with the movie, apart from the

Lithuanians, can skateóand the crudely telegraphed capper, involving the

ailing festival director’s audition of Dolores’ workprint, sends this

breezy but piddling effort crashing through its own thin ice. (JES)

At 9:15 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry. Also screens Saturday, May 1, at 7

p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

1

Saturday.

Life on Earth

A director returns to Mali to visit his mother and capture his hometown on

celluloid in this film, deemed “luminous” by the Village Voice. This is one

of five free screenings of entries in the “2000 as Seen by…” series.

At 2 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art; free.

The Wall

Erected to separate the French- and Flemish-speaking parts of Brussels, a

new wall runs right through the center of a chips shop. This is one of five

free screenings of entries in the “2000 as Seen by…” series.

At 3 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art; free.

My First Night

In Spain, misunderstandings and mishaps mar a couple’s attempt to have a

quiet dinner on New Year’s Eve 1999. This is one of five free screenings of

entries in the “2000 as Seen by…” series.

At 4:15 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art; free.

Short Stuff II

Two local filmmakers’ quick jab at Hollywood, “The Pitch,” is one of seven

shorts in this program, which also includes films set in an all-night diner

and a peep show featuring male dancers and female viewers.

At 5 p.m. at the American Film Institute Theater.

The Swindle

Writer-director Claude Chabrol’s 50th feature film finds the old master in

an unusually antic mood. Michel Serrault and Isabelle Huppert star as

Victor and Betty, a pair of petty scam artists whose relationshipófather

and daughter? generation-gap lovers?óis never clarified. After the duo rips

off a married conventioneer in France, Betty vacations in the Swiss Alps

with Maurice (Fran&ecedil;ois Cluzet), a businessman planning to abscond

with 5 million Swiss francs he’s been charged to launder for international

mobsters. Betty’s plan to double-cross Maurice becomes complicated by

Victor’s arrival, and the tricky trio take off for Guadeloupe for a violent

confrontation with Maurice’s bosses. Chabrol’s comic heist screenplay

allows him to explore some of his favorite themesófood, greed, and

stupidity. Serrault gives a sly, polished performance as the veteran

grifter, and even Huppert, the great stone face of French cinema, is

uncharacteristically vivacious, as mercurial as her character’s frequent

changes of identities and colorful wigs. Although considerably less

ambitious than Les Bonnes Femmes, Le Boucher, and other Chabrol

masterpieces, The Swindle is nonetheless a sleek, amusing divertissement.

(JES)

At 7 p.m. at the National Geographic Society.

From the Heart

The maker of previous Filmfest highlights Bombay and The Duo, director Mani

Ratnam combines the delirious style of the Bollywood movie musical with

India’s equally elaborate political intrigues, all to dazzling effect. This

will very likely be the only chance for Washingtonians to see this film.

At 9 p.m. at the National Geographic Society.

A Hard Day’s Night

The movie that invented the Beatlesóand post-Elvis rock musicóon film makes

its 35th-anniversary comeback, complete with a previously unseen

performance of “You Can’t Do That.” Scheduled for commercial release this

spring.

At 9:30 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Foundry.

2

Sunday.

Besieged

Thirty years ago, the appearance of a Bernardo Bertolucci movie (The

Spider’s Stratagem, The Conformist) guaranteed a bracing cinematic

experience. Nowadays, alas, his signature prepares us for stylish but

hollow misfires (The Sheltering Sky, Little Buddha). Like his last effort,

Stealing Beauty, Besieged features an undernourished screenplay by the

director and his wife, Clare Peploe, partially redeemed by a bewitching

actress and an evocative settling. Thandie Newton stars as Shandurai, a

young woman who leaves her home in Africa (where her teacher-husband is a

political prisoner) to study medicine in Rome. She supports herself by

working as a live-in domestic for Kinsky (David Thewlis), an eccentric

classical pianist who has inherited an ancient house overlooking the

Spanish Steps. Besotted by her, Kinsky proves his love by attempting to

liberate her husbandóa selfless gesture that draws Shandurai closer to him.

The striking, sensitive Newton illuminates the screen with the magical

radiance that Audrey Hepburn brought to Rome in her first starring role,

but flounder-faced Thewlis, so effective in working-class parts, is

laughably miscast as an upper-class aesthete. Bertolucci’s reliance on

passÈ editing gimmicksóslow and fast motion, jump cuttingóand his

gratuitous replication of the masturbation scene from Jean Vigo’s

L’Atalante indicate that his creative batteries badly need recharging, if

not replacement. (JES)

At 4 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre, followed by a party at the Reeves

Municipal Center; $20.

Támas and Juli

In Hungarian director Ildiko (My 20th Century) Enyedi’s film, mineworker

T¥mas can’t reach schoolteacher Juli to tell her that their New Year’s 1999

date is off. This is one of five free screenings of entries in the “2000 as

Seen by…” series.

The “Sanguinaires”

A group of Parisians flees to Corsica for New Year’s 1999, but the leader

disappears at midnight. This is one of five free screenings of entries in

the “2000 as Seen by…” series.

T¥mas and Juli and The “Sanguinaires” screen together at 4 p.m. at the

National Gallery of Art; free. CP

Copyright ©1999 Washington Free Weekly Inc.