DECEMBER 18

With its contemplative, almost-still nature shots and its dense soundtrack, this 1993 effort suggests recent Godard as much as writer/director Jon Jost’s late-’70s films do early Godard. Where Hail Mary and Hélas Pour Moi address mythic subjects, however, Jost focuses on the contemporary and prosaic: This is simultaneously a portrait of a small Oregon lumber-mill town under economic pressure and a single family, headed by a local mill operator, torn apart by a daughter’s allegation. The effect is that of an everyday drama wrapped inside a rapturous documentary, and the latter is more effective than the former. The acting and the dialogue are sometimes awkward, but the structure and individual compositions are elegant. Though some of Jost’s special effects seem forced, the subtler camerawork is exquisite, and the Nyman-esque music provides a suitable elegy for both the shattered family and the denuded hills. At 1 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)

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