Jewish Film Festival

Through June 15 at the AMC Creve Coeur 12 Theatre

5:30 p.m.: Man Is Woman (Jean-Jacques Zilberman, France, 1997, 96 min.). Yet another example of the untranslatability of French -- the language and the sensibility. There's something slightly off here, though other than the title, it's hard to say exactly what. Simon, a gay Jewish French guy (with all of those signifiers, he should definitely dress better than he does), is in love with his best friend, who's straight and married to a woman. Meanwhile, Simon's uncle promises him 10 million francs if he marries a woman. Simon's out and proud, and not interested in money, but when his uncle cuts off his bank account and locks him out of his apartment, it's only natural that Simon spend the night with Rosalie, a lovely, pious American Jew who sings Yiddish opera. They fall in love (sort of) and get married, and yup -- it's downhill from there. Problem: There are many opportunities for Simon to back out, and he never does, so we watch him careen toward disaster for most of the film. It's uncomfortable, especially because the film seems to view itself as a comedy. Oh, those crazy French! In French with English subtitles. (ML)

8 p.m.: All My Loved Ones (Matej Minác, Czeck Republic/Slovakia/Poland, 1999, 90 min.) This gentle, discursive drama nostalgically recalls a large Czech Jewish clan on the cusp of Germany's invasion. Portents of war periodically intrude -- newsreels of Hitler and goose-stepping troops unspool in the local cinema, a seemingly benign German gardener bellows Nazi anthems with scary exuberance -- but the Silbersteins cling to the mistaken belief that trouble will stop short of their door. The story is told to a large degree from the perspective of David, the youngest family member, who is at last packed off to English safety when his parents belatedly acknowledge the dire precariousness of their situation. All My Loved Ones thus essentially memorializes David's lost relatives, but the film derives its emotional power not by showing their extermination -- it stops before the overt violence begins -- but by recording the small, telling details of their prewar lives: The mundane is made glorious and unbearably poignant by our knowledge of the imminent horror. The movie also pays moving tribute to the real-life savior of children such as David: Nicholas Winton (Rupert Graves), an Englishman who spirited 669 young Czech Jews out of the country before World War II's outbreak. (The actual Winton is seen in documentary footage that opens and closes the film.) In Czech, Polish, German and English with English subtitles. Postfilm discussion with director Minác. (CF)

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