Films Without Borders

The fourteenth annual St. Louis International Film Festival gets off to a great start

Stress, Orgasms and Salvation (unrated) Carlos Alberto Riccelli. Orgasm-deficient Rachel has had a rough day: Her boyfriend cheated on her with her best friend, a skeezy guy in a pineapple shirt sexually assaulted her, and she ended up in the bed of a mystery seventeen-year-old. Um, ship to shore, this lady needs an S.O.S.! Coincidentally enough, the acronym that defines Rachel's life is also the name of a, ah, "self-help" service she sees advertised on TV — a masturbation mentorship, if you will. She enrolls with the hope that the ability to orgasm will relieve her stressors and improve her quality of life. But can orgasms actually lead to salvation? Screens at 9:45 p.m. Friday, November 11, at the Tivoli. (Kristyn Pomranz) Women's Prison (unrated) Manijeh Hekmat. A fictionalized account of a very real, very underexposed subculture, Manijeh Hekmat's Farsi film (with English subtitles) is based on her fieldwork among women's prisons in Iran. Commencing with the introduction of a new warden and spanning eighteen years behind the bars, this exposé examines Iran's "lost generation"— the people of the two decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Using the women's prisons as a symbol of the society as a whole and the new warden's emotional evolution to represent the winds of change, Hekmat paints a dark portrait revealing the politics of prison, society and the mentality of oppressed women. Screens at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, November 15, and 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 16, at the Tivoli. (KP)



DOCUMENTARIES:

Goodnight, We Love You(unrated) Gregg Barson. Right around the time she lent her improv skills and raucous cackle to The Aristocrats, St. Louis native Phyllis Diller was also retiring from the world of stand-up. In this intimate documentary, Gregg Barson forgoes a retrospective of her professional career to intersperse interviews with peers and members of her inner circle with footage from 2002's final, star-studded Las Vegas performances. But it's once the camera enters Diller's personal turf that things get emotional. We leisurely trail the world's most influential female comedian through her two (!) decadent closets, sidle up beside her in the kitchen, follow her into her art studio, sit down to jam at her harpsichord and even reverently behold her Holiest of Holies, the Wig Room. Who would have guessed that the world's most scathingly self-deprecating housewife is happiest when she's at home? Screens at 8 p.m. Sunday, November 13, at the Moore Auditorium on the campus of Webster University. (JS)

HairKutt(unrated) Curtis Elliott and Ben Scholle. Plays like a more grounded, Afrocentric companion piece to Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, a drug disaster flick that depicts heroin abuse as a one-way ticket to prison and/or sexual slavery. But while Requiem took stereotypes involving the oft-injected drug and sprinted with them — the main addict's arm is ultimately amputated — HairKutt's strength lies in its ability to debunk these very stereotypes. Its central character, a cuddly and poetic doorbelling barber from south St. Louis named Bryant "HairKutt" Johnson, snorts the drug and is highly functional and well manicured. Tired of his own abuse, his lust for heroin is the hardly hedonistic: He's been using for so long (eighteen years at the time of filming) that he literally needs it to get out of bed in the morning. Johnson's introspective, vulnerable nature makes him the most sympathetic deadbeat dad to hit the silver screen in years, and the care afforded him by his boyhood friends during a cold-turkey cessation attempt in a remote cabin in Tennessee's Smokey Mountains make this film a small miracle, thanks in no small part to co-producer Ben Scholle's ability to whittle a week's worth of hand-held shit and vomit into a dynamic and moving 60-minute narrative. Screens at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, November 15, at the Tivoli. (MS)

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