9:45 p.m.: DS: Creature. Parris Patton, U.S., 1999, 64 min. Parris Patton, who evidently now works with Disney, spent four years filming the pilgrim's progress of Stacey Hollywood/Kyle Dean, who ran away from a rural North Carolina home for a series of lives in LA as a transvestite prostitute, drag-club diva and pre-op transsexual. Patton's low budget and the extended shoot make Creature a collection of minidocumentaries that testify to the fluidity of identity and to the varieties of denial. The final portion records Stacey's first trip home in more than three years to see her devout mother and born-again father, whose Fu Manchu moustache is a relic from his time in prison: Although sure that what Stacey has done is contrary to God, they're just as sure that, this being America, she has every right to do it. (FG)

West Olive

7 p.m.: CC: Unmade Beds. Nicholas Barker, U.S., 1997, 93 min. An acidly funny group portrait of four lonely, self-deluded New Yorkers looking for love through the personals, Unmade Beds exploits and empathizes, abuses and exalts, distorts and clarifies. Although technically a documentary, the film presents such a highly mediated view of its subjects -- images refracted through the sharp lens of director Barker -- that they become fact-based fictional creations: characters carefully shaped as much as persons closely observed. The film divides its time between two men -- an intense, humorlessly self-deprecating 40-year-old who believes he owes his bachelorhood to his short stature and a gruff, laconic would-be screenwriter who dresses like a Scorsese wiseguy -- and two women -- a young, savvy but overweight professional grimly determined to marry before she's 30 and a buxom, hilariously forthright divorcée who's on the hunt for a man with money. Although Barker gleefully shares his subjects' uglier traits and views, he constantly undercuts our first impressions by providing a fresh perspective, by softening a hard edge, by opening emotional veins and letting these people messily bleed. Unmade Beds may provoke its share of laughter, but it's at all of our expense. Presented by Ellen Futterman. (CF)

7:30 p.m.: East Is East. Damien O'Donnell, U.K., 1999, 96 min. In 1971 working-class Salford (northern England), a seething, intolerant Pakistani father clashes in increasingly contentious ways with his seven children, who embrace the culture of their more open-minded British mother. Daughter Meenah hates saris and loves playing soccer. Instead of studying engineering, rebellious Saleem sneaks to art school to mold shocking sculptures. Tariq nurtures his reputation as an irresistible Romeo, and the youngest boy hasn't undergone traditional rites of manhood. Alternately cohesive in their escalating resistance and desperately dysfunctional, the Muslim-raised children rebel by eating bacon and refusing to visit the mosque. George Khan, the dogmatic father dubbed "Genghis," reasserts his authority, including arranging marriages. At times broadly humorous, the narrative astutely dramatizes contemporary culture clash. Based on Ayub Khan Din's acclaimed autobiographical play, East Is East packs an emotional punch because of its compassionate presentation of a man desperate to dominate a family already beyond his control. (DC)

9:45 p.m.: The Lighthouse (El Faro). Eduardo Mignona, Argentina, 1998, 110 min. Somewhere in the middle of this meandering movie, it makes a point: We should cherish what is crooked, not try to straighten it out. This idea dawns on Meme (Ingrid Rubio), an orphan with a crippled leg and missing lung, so she should know what she is talking about. And this movie that follows the rhythms of Meme's aimless life in Uruguay with her kid sister and cigarette habit does, occasionally, cherish the crooked. At times it feels like an oddball delight -- like actually enjoying the friendship of this offbeat, lovely person. Then all charm disappears without warning into flat dialogue, simpering stares and soap-opera- esque plot turns (unenlightening boy trouble and stagy pregnancies). What could have been a nifty, crooked short film gets straightened out into an overly long yawner. In Spanish with English subtitles. (CK)

9:45 p.m.: Wicked. Michael Steinberg, U.S., 1998, 96 min. Ellie Christianson's (Julia Stiles) particular teenage wasteland is a gated community called Casa del Norte. She doesn't care much for her mother, and a little too much for her father, so when mom's found bludgeoned to death, the plot thickens. When Ellie takes to wearing Mom's slinkiest and asking Dad to kiss her "like a movie star," it curdles. Directed with demo-reel effusiveness by Steinberg, the dark and intermittently comic Wicked is not without its guilty pleasures, derived mostly from its excesses. At once slight and ponderous, the film manages to "succeed" by dint of sheer perversity, juicing its suburban gothicism to the point of genuine discomfort. Still, the style-to-substance ratio is so rich that by the time Wicked's plot exhausts itself in a final ridiculous twist, the viewer is left less satisfied than queasy. (JH)

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.

Plaza Frontenac

7:15 p.m.: Three Men and a Leg (Tre Uomini e Una Gamba). Aldo Baglio, Giovanni Storti, Giacomo Poretti and Massimo Venier, Italy, 1998, 89 min. This Italian farce represents the feature-film debut of a popular team of TV comics known in Italy as Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo, who also directed. The three play bumbling hardware-store clerks who are scheduled to marry their boss' three daughters. But on the way to the wedding, they must pick up a tacky sculpture -- a crudely carved wooden leg -- that their boss is certain will increase in value on the sculptor's imminent death. Trying to hang onto the leg and get to their destination safely proves a challenge for these well-intentioned but hopelessly inept bozos as they stumble into one absurd situation after another. Billed as sort of an Italian Dumb and Dumber, the film is indeed very silly, but there are enough genuine laughs to make its brisk running time easy to tolerate. A scene with a car and a dog is probably ripped off directly from National Lampoon's Vacation, and countless other scenes recall lowbrow American comedies that have already been there, done that. Still, the energy level is high, the opening sequence is a minor classic, and the direction is efficient enough to maintain viewer interest. Don't look for multiple layers, though; this film is all surface shenanigans. In Italian with English subtitles. (KR)

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