Show Time in St. Louis

SLIFF celebrates its sweet sixteenth with a two-week party.

Banished

Marco Williams, USA
7:15 p.m., Sunday, November 11, Tivoli Theatre

When an elderly white man tells director Marco Williams that he moved to Harrison, Arkansas, because the town has no black people, the revelation is shocking not because he admits to his own bigotry — it's that the man had the audacity to say it on camera. But then, that's the genius of Williams' documentary Banished. In exploring the dark secrets of three towns that expelled their black residents during the Jim Crow era, Williams captures modern Americans discussing race with a brutal honesty rarely shared in mixed company. Closest to home is the story of Pierce City, Missouri, which in 1901 sent some 300 African-Americans fleeing after a white woman was allegedly murdered at the hands of a black man. Given its setting in southwest Missouri, it may be easy to dismiss what happened in Pierce City as a historic aberration possible only in rural America. Easy, that is, until one ventures to north St. Louis or any urban city where racial cleansing continues to this day in the form of white flight. — Chad Garrison

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies

Michael Hazanavicius, France
7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday (November 13 and 14) at Plaza Frontenac (1701 South Lindbergh Boulevard, Frontenac)

OSS 117 is the code name of France's greatest secret agent, Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath (Jean Dujardin). He's dapper, he's suave, and he's also a chauvinistic, boorish cad with a vivacious love for French colonialism. These slight character flaws might be problematic on his current mission, as OSS 117 is charged with bringing "lasting peace to the Middle East." And in the Cairo of 1955 (or now), such a man can do much more harm than good. Hazanavicius' sly satire of spy films pokes fun at James Bond, but not in the Austin Powers sense. Dujardin plays it straight, mining the humor in cultural ignorance, the Gallic sense of superiority and the oft-noted homoerotic undertones of the genre with an eloquently arched eyebrow and an effortless panache. Dujardin's cool, jazzy style matches the swingin' score perfectly. It's not a spy movie pastiche — it's homage, with just the right amount of fromage. — Paul Friswold

48 Angels

Marion Comer, Ireland
12:30 p.m. Wednesday, 5 p.m. Thursday (November 14 and 15), Plaza Frontenac

An emotionally devastating film about faith: its dangers, its rewards and its power to change us. Nine-year-old Seamus (Ciaran Flynn) knows the disease he has will kill him soon. He sets out in a sail-less, oar-less boat in order to find God on the water, just as St. Columcille did &mdash and he finds Him. Or at least, he believes the unconscious, bearded man with the scalp wound and the bleeding abdomen is Him. James (John Travers), the angry Protestant teen he finds almost simultaneously, doesn’t believe the man to be God. But Seamus’ conviction cows the older boy, and the two manage to get him from the beach to a safe house. Together, the trio complete Seamus’ journey &mdash despite the best efforts of the IRA and the police. Comer uses almost no incidental music; the silence, coupled with the ever-present bleak Irish sky, creates a contemplative, hushed wonder. The uniquely Irish gift of making even the smallest words sound achingly beautiful when spoken aloud and Flynn’s haunting eyes cause the denouement to be both heartbreaking and life-affirming. — Paul Friswold

Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story

Jeffrey Schwarz, USA
7:15 p.m. Wednesday, November 14, Tivoli Theatre

Spine Tingler takes you back to a time when going to the movies was an event and a cultural institution. The straightforward documentary tells the story of William Castle, the poor man’s Alfred Hitchcock, and a master of 1950s and ´60s B-horror movies, famous for the outlandish gimmick promotions that accompanied them. For instance, The Tingler, the 1959 Castle classic starring Vincent Price that lends the documentary its title, required theatres to install electric buzzers under select seats to shock audience members at key times in the film, a setup Castle christened “percepto.” Castle’s delightfully low-budget, campy flicks and their ilk defined the horror genre for nearly three decades before the emergence of the´70s slasher genre, and the documentary provides insight to the mentality of a different, and infinitely more fun, movie-going era. It's a great primer for those not familiar with Castle’s work but nothing groundbreaking for cinephiles who have seen it all. — Keegan Hamilton

Orange Revolution

Steve York, USA
7:15 p.m., Thursday, November 15, Tivoli Theatre

Imagine the 2000 election if Al Gore hadn't been allowed to campaign on TV or radio, if someone almost succeeded in killing him and if he really did lose the election unfairly. Would Americans leave their jobs behind to protest in Washington D.C.? Or would they just move on? Although Orange Revolution doesn't pose this exact question, it certainly forces you to entertain the possibility. The documentary follows Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko as the once-handsome man morphs to an unrecognizable, lumpy-skinned survivor of a semi-successful poisoning. After his near-death experience, Yushchenko loses a fraudulent election and his followers are outraged. In late November of 2004, more than half a million Ukrainians migrate to the country's capital (through sleet and snow, mind you) to protest in a nonviolent revolution. Many set up camp in a tent city outside the Central Electoral Commission and work together to eat, sleep and fight for democracy. As evidence people still give a shit, this inspirational documentary is a wake up call for every apathetic voter and cynic.
— Jeanette Kozlowski

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