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Reel It In: SLIFF rolls on with a host of events before the film fest wraps on Sunday

The St. Louis International Film Festival continues this week and wraps with a closing-night party at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room at 8 p.m. on Sunday, November 23. We've reviewed a few of the films that are on deck here, and you can find more details, including complete show listings as well as venue and ticket information, at www.cinemastlouis.org.

Stranded
A team of Uruguayan rugby players whose plane crashed in the Andes was immortalized in Piers Paul Read's novel Alive. Some 35 years later, the survivors return to the site and recount the harrowing weeks spent in the mountains. In simple yet powerful words that are characteristic of this stunning film, one survivor describes the terrain as, "A totally indifferent world of snow, so calm, extraordinarily peaceful, but that peace was lifeless and inorganic." Stranded, a mashup of actual photos and news broadcasts, reenactments and present-day interviews, offers even more insight into their microsociety at the end of the world. They struggled with questions of lawlessness, morality, chaos and faith, struggling to live while at times believing death was the preferred option. But even now, the men can remember marveling at the beauty of the moonlight and the hope that can be found in absolute desolation. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Kristie McClanahan
Wednesday, November 19, 9 p.m., at the Tivoli.

Not By Chance
Two seconds can mean the difference between life and death, no matter how much one seeks to control his environment. This is the message of the Brazilian film Not By Chance, and it's illustrated by the characters Pedro, a pool-table maker, and Enio, a traffic controller. Tragedy befalls both of the men, and they try to carry on with a life that they no longer control. After the film's sluggish beginning, there's some interesting camera work here, especially during some of the snooker scenes, where the ghostly images of the billiard balls and their expected destinations mirror the lives of the two men who have to deal with the reality that, more often than not, life comes down to much more than simple geometry. In Portuguese with English subtitles.
(KM)
Wednesday, November 19, 9:30 p.m., at the Plaza Frontenac.

The Wedding Director
As far as subtitled foreign films go, The Wedding Director is light on reading, which works out wonderfully for those longing for an Italian vacation — there is plenty of time to drink up the beautifully rich scenery in between lines. In the film, Franco Elica is a director who winds up in Sicily and is hired by a prince to direct his daughter Bona's wedding film. Elica falls in love with the betrothed, and a plot to spoil the wedding develops. But The Wedding Director isn't your typical madcap comedy of errors, and the film doesn't feel particularly lighthearted (though, on the surface, the subject matter certainly is). With an ambiguous ending, this film leaves viewers with some questions unanswered, but it somehow still doesn't feel like a waste of time.
Alison Sieloff
Thursday, November 20, 7:15 p.m., and on Saturday, November 22, at 2:15 p.m., at Plaza Frontenac.

Survivors travel to the ends of the earth in the hope of finding civilization in Stranded.
Survivors travel to the ends of the earth in the hope of finding civilization in Stranded.
The Wedding Director
The Wedding Director

Say Goodnight
You know the four guys in Say Goodnight — or, at least, guys like them. And because this film was shot in St. Louis, you might have even met these actors. One plays the loudmouth (read: douchebag), another is the more sensitive follower (played by the super-cute Christopher Gessner, swoon), one has the role of the mature guy and, of course, there's the grad student. Throughout the film, the first three recount stories of love lost, and sometimes found, to the never-gets-out-anymore grad-school guy, and these tales help highlight how happening St. Louis can look at night. Places like the Third Degree Glass Factory, Maryland House, Atomic Cowboy and Bar Italia definitely do our city proud. And while the setting shots (and the leading ladies) are a highlight, the gay jokes are definitely a low point — are these still a requirement for comedies? Even still, Say Goodnight shows the ups and downs of dating and captures the high of that first moment when you fall in love (or, perhaps, in like) and kind of makes you want to do your early- to mid-twenties all over again. And then again, kind of not; the bar dating scene can be so, so tough.
(AS)
Thursday, November 20, 9:45 p.m., at the Tivoli.

The Custodian
The pain of boredom is explored with a fine-toothed comb in The Custodian. The plot contrasts a politician's life and that of his bodyguard, Ruben. We follow Ruben as he is shut out of every meeting, reprimanded for smoking in the hallway, humiliated by the minister, his friends, even the man's teenage daughter. When Ruben does speak, it's a monosyllabic response. His expression rarely changes from the blank mask he wears on his face every day, but beneath the surface it's clear something is boiling. The Custodian asks the audience to be patient, patient, then wait a little longer. When you start to question why you are sitting there watching Ruben's life unfold in every pathetic way possible, you realize, Wow, I feel for this guy. Matt Kasper
Thursday, November 20, 9 p.m., at Plaza Frontenac.

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