By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Chris Packham
By David Kipen
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Caira LaVelle
7:30 p.m.: East Is East. See Oct. 30, Plaza Frontenac.
9:45 p.m.: The Lighthouse. See Oct. 30, Tivoli.
9:45 p.m.: Wicked. See Oct. 31, Tivoli.
Thursday, Nov. 4
Brandt's Market & Cafe
5:30 p.m.: Happy Hour. The Alliance Française sponsors a happy hour, with music by the Poor People of Paris, before the screening of Train of Life at the Tivoli.
7:15 p.m.: Three Men and a Leg. See Nov. 1, West Olive.
9:30 p.m.: All About My Mother. See Oct. 29, Plaza Frontenac.
7 p.m.: Train of Life (Train de Vie). See Oct. 29, West Olive.
7:30 p.m.: That's the Way I Like It. See Oct. 29, West Olive.
9:30 p.m.: The Wisdom of Crocodiles. See Oct. 30, West Olive.
9:45 p.m.: Laura. Otto Preminger, U.S., 1944, 85 min. Too elegant to properly be labeled noir and too willfully perverse to fit in with the conventional drawing-room mystery, Preminger's 1944 classic finds a nearly perfect balance of Hollywood glamor and dark obsession. Though the story follows all of the usual mystery-novel steps, Preminger is less interested in exposing a murder than in creating a sense of collective guilt. The dead Laura, a tangible presence throughout the film thanks to her portrait on the wall and David Raksin's ever-present theme music, is the figure of desire that links cop and criminal and makes every character a potential lover or murderer. The flamboyant Clifton Webb steals the film, but Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney are at their best as well, and those who know Vincent Price only for his charmingly campy presence in horror movies of the '60s and '70s will be surprised to see what a delightful -- if somewhat mannered -- actor he could be when he played it straight. Introduced by Vincent Price's daughter, Victoria, author of Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography. (RH)
6:45 p.m.: CC: Without Limits. Robert Towne, U.S., 1998, 117 min. A bookend to Personal Best, Towne's earlier paean to track-and-field Olympians' rarefied world of exquisite pain and ecstatic triumph, Without Limits fulfills the usual biopic expectations -- relating the story of Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup), the charismatic '70s distance runner who ran hard and died young -- but the film's concerns are as much metaphysical as physical: about defining yourself through action, about finding success through failure, about (as the title says) refusing to acknowledge limits. Towne and the extraordinary Crudup never sentimentalize Pre, who remains throughout a maddening, bull-headed egoist, but present him as a messily realistic contradiction -- charming, funny, obstinate, hard-working, stoic, shiftless. As Pre's coach (and Nike founder) Bill Bowerman, Donald Sutherland -- who's too often prone to the histrionic gesture -- gives a beautifully nuanced performance, and his scenes with Crudup, as they court, wrangle and reconcile, exemplify the film's easy naturalism, a verisimilitude absent from most clichéd sports movies. With his editors and brilliant cinematographer Conrad L. Hall, Towne invests Pre's races with surprising emotional power and communicates their multiact drama to even non-track fans. Presented by Cliff Froehlich. (CF)
7 p.m.: The Third Miracle. See Oct. 30, Tivoli.
9:30 p.m.: Deterrence. See Oct. 30, West Olive.
9:45 p.m.: Erskineville Kings. Alan White, Australia, 1999, 90 min. Barky (Marty Denniss) returns to his hometown Erskineville for the burial of his violent, abusive father. This means a confrontation with memory, with the life and lives he left behind and with his older brother Wace (Hugh Jackman), who tended to the old man through a slow, humiliating death. In the hands of director White, Erskineville is the land of many assholes -- gross, beefy guys who debate the flushing of a turd, and the women who hang with those guys like decorative linoleum. After the long, nearly interminable exposition -- Hopperesque cityscapes accompanied by a perpetually strummed guitar -- when the actual showdown between brothers ensues, the film catches some spark, but not enough to make up for all the bleak, and boring, excess. (ES)
Friday, Nov. 5
9:30 p.m.: NFF Opening-Night Party. A gathering of NFF filmmakers, judges and attendees.
7:15 p.m.: The Auteur Theory. Evan Oppenheimer, U.S., 1999, 80 min. A film about making a film about making a film, The Auteur Theory is a satirical feature about a documentarist whose subject is a student film festival. Framing the movie is a pitch to BBC executives, in which filmmaker George Sand (Alan Cox) narrates the plot of his documentary, The Auteur Theory, to a threesome of skeptical executives. As Sand's film catalogs the events at a film festival, his narration is peppered with excerpts of the student films shown there -- ridiculous, overwrought pieces of work that include the pseudo-feminist "Hamlette" and a neo-expressionist Hasidic victim short by Spike Levy. Obviously, this film has something to say about filmmakers' obsession with themselves; it's so self-referential that it's circular, always turning back on itself. It means to be funny; it scarcely is. The problem with satirizing overwrought student films is that you end up forcing your audience to watch overwrought student films. (ML)
9:30 p.m.: Such a Long Journey. See Nov. 1, West Olive.
12:30 p.m.: NFF Seminar: Lights, Camera, Civil Action. A panel on the legal aspects of filmmaking co-moderated by Alan S. Nemes and Jill L. Selsor of Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin LLP Entertainment Law Group, with panelist Kjehl Rasmussen (executive producer of The Corndog Man).
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