Show Time in St. Louis

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

The Paper

Aaron Matthews
7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 15, Webster University’s Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue)

Times are tough at The Daily Collegian, Penn State’s student newspaper. Circulation is down. Too often, the letters to the editor column sits empty. Reporters continually bungle the paper’s diversity coverage, most embarrassingly referring to a black poker player as “Queen of spades.” The university’s public-affairs machine infuriates the Collegian staff by blocking access to the administration and football team. The editor in chief declines to make a bigger issue of rape on campus because it happens way too often to be “newsworthy.” Individual reporters struggle with boredom, sexism and frustration with journalistic objectivity. In short, The Daily Collegian faces the same problems as every other newspaper in America. Aaron Matthews’ documentary follows the staff through the 2005-06 school year. The Collegian’s young journalists are clueless, self-righteous and earnest (sometimes painfully so), but they are also dedicated, articulate and resourceful, and all together they &mdash and Matthews &mdash effectively demonstrate how a newspaper functions &mdash or doesn’t. — Aimee Levitt

Manual of Love

Giovanni Veronesi, Italy
9:45 p.m. Friday, 2:15 p.m. Saturday (November 16 and 17), Plaza Frontenac
Orphaned South African children unite their voices to sing in We Are Together.
Orphaned South African children unite their voices to sing in We Are Together.

A breezy, comic examination of the four stages of love &mdashfalling in love, the romantic crisis, the affair and abandonment &mdash Veronesi’s quartet of stories are linked by briefly shared characters and framed by a popular self-help book that gives the film its title. Each of the four stories is marked by a peculiarly Italian sense of passion that dwarfs the rather limp American conventions of “romantic comedy.” Tommaso (Silvio Muccino) falls in love with the force of a cannonball, lacking even a shred of doubt. Ornella (Luciana Littizzetto) exacts a brilliant and terrifying vengeance after she’s been betrayed by her husband, but not in a Fatal Attraction, clichéd manner. And Goffredo (Carlo Verdone), abandoned by his wife, wallows in his misery without resorting to drink, self-abuse or the support of a goofy, comic friend. The result of all this unbridled passion and lovemaking is a charming and unexpectedly inspirational trip through not just the human heart, but the soul. — Paul Friswold

Call of the Wild

Ron Lamothe, USA
4:45 p.m., Saturday, November 17, Webster University

The best thing to happen to Ron Lamothe is that both he and director Sean Penn chose to make a movie about Chris McCandless &mdash the subject of Jon Krakauer’s best-selling book Into the Wild &mdash at the very same time. Without Penn’s large-scale production crew upstaging and thwarting Lamothe at every turn, this self-indulgent documentary would have little to offer except for the most obsessed fans of McCandless, whose 1992 death remains something of a mystery. Lamothe works under the theory that he and McCandless share a spiritual bond because they both graduated college in 1990 and spent a few years traipsing the globe in search of adventure and identity. But the similarities end there. After retracing McCandless’ travels ad nauseam, Lamothe arrives in Alaska where a local drunk sums it up best: McCandless died because he was a “dipshit” who had no business living in the wilds of Alaska. Lamothe’s film offers a counterpoint to the McCandless mythology, if nothing else. — Chad Garrison

Chicago 10

Brett Morgan, USA
4:45 p.m. Saturday, November 17, Plaza Frontenac

In resurrecting the bloody bedlam of the Democratic National Convention in August of 1968, Chicago 10 offers a stunning glimpse into the searing rage (“Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”) that enveloped the country in a year that began with the Tet Offensive and ended with Apollo astronauts reciting biblical verse as they orbited the moon. With fascinating archival footage and a pounding rock & roll soundtrack, we are transported back to the streets of Chicago to watch protesters beaten, tear-gassed and flung into police paddy wagons. Mayor Richard Daley demands “law and order,” while Walter Cronkite pronounces it a “police state.” The most ingenious aspect of the documentary, though, is its treatment of the “Chicago 8,” that included Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman and Bobby Seale, who are brought to trial and charged with inciting the riots. The re-enactment of the trial is done completely in cartoon animation &mdash so very fitting, considering that the proceedings were nothing but farce and, like that final week in August and America itself in 1968, rife with lunacy. — Ellis E. Conklin

Twisted: A Balloonamentary

Naomi Greenfield and Sara Taksler, USA
7 p.m. Saturday, November 17, Saint Louis Art Museum

Sort of a Wordplay for the balloon-twisting set, Twisted: A Balloonamentary, follows lovable nutjobs who spend their free time shaping latex into everything from tropical chimps to geishas &mdash and sometimes into big business. Among others, we meet Michele, a Vegas entrepreneur who’s turned balloon-twisting into a multimillion-dollar venture; James who brings the art to some of Atlanta’s toughest neighborhoods; and John, who twists balloons into crucifixes and spreads the Good Word (with the help of his video series, of course). These artists gather annually for Twist and Shout, an international balloon-twisting competition, where most of the film takes place. The reverence they have for their idol, British balloon master David Grist, the hilarity they find in jokes that start “You may be a balloon artist if…” and the camaraderie they have as a group makes for a surprisingly touching documentary about the joy that comes with sharing your passion with others &mdash whatever it may be &mdash in a tangible, if temporary, way. — Kristie McClanahan

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