We Were Here
6:30 p.m. Thursday, November 17, at the Tivoli Theatre
We Were Here is an honest, confrontational and deeply moving eulogy for the more than 15,000 victims claimed by AIDS in San Francisco during the '80s and early '90s. The story is shared through the voices of those who experienced the devastation firsthand, whether through working in an AIDS ward, participating in AIDS activism, manning a Castro flower shop or living with the virus. The film's most powerful moments, however, lie in its silences. Pages and pages of obituaries pass the lens, as more friends, family and lovers succumb to "gay cancer." LGBT culture mourns the apparent loss of the fleeting utopia it found in '70s San Francisco as it does its many dead; meanwhile, a profound, spiritual beauty emerges from so much pain, as those left behind become custodians of friends' memories and a culture forever changed.
— Chrissy Wilmes


Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life
7 p.m. Friday, November 18, and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, November 20, at Plaza Frontenac Cinema
Serge Gainsbourg's beginning was humble (at least, relatively humble) as Lucien Ginsburg, the loudmouthed Jewish boy from France with a penchant for naked women, art and naked women. Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life reconciles self-conscious Lucien with egotistical Serge, relying on essentially three characters: Gainsbourg's "mug" (a caricature of Jewish stereotypes that represents his insecurities and his id), Gainsbourg and women, collectively. We follow young Ginsburg as he hides from Nazis, escapes into fantasies and transforms from painter to piano player to the singer/songwriter/performer/lady-killer we know and love and love to hate; all the while, he's followed and, at times, guided by his mug, leaving in his wake a trail of underdeveloped characters — his used women and children. Eric Elmosnino's portrayal of Gainsbourg is uncanny — detestable and endearing, awkward and attractive. We understand why the iconic beauties who punctuated his life (Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin) fell for him and, more important, why they're better off without him.
— Chrissy Wilmes


These Amazing Shadows
1 p.m. Sunday, November 20, at Webster University's Moore Auditorium
Modern film buffs are pretty spoiled. Not only do we have access to a plethora of domestic and international cinema, but much of it is available to stream directly into our homes. In an entertainment world full of quickly produced digital media and short shelf lives, it's easy to forget how much time and effort goes into the production of a film, much less the preservation of reel upon reel of 35 mm film negatives from, say, 1906. These Amazing Shadows is a movie-lover's movie; It explores the Library of Congress' mission to restore, preserve and protect "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" American films. Watching members of the film industry discuss personally significant moments from films already included in the registry serves as a reminder of the important and magical role cinema plays in American life.
— Chrissy Wilmes


Give a Damn?
Give a Damn?
Wish Me Away.
Wish Me Away.

Shuffle
6:30 p.m. Sunday, November 20, at the Tivoli Theatre
Shuffle is the anti-Groundhog Day. Every time narcoleptic photographer Lovell Milo wakes up, he is a different age experiencing a different day of his life. As the name implies, the progression of time appears random, but the plot thickens with the aid of a few planted loopholes. T.J. Thyne, whose filmography includes bit parts in Erin Brockovich and Ghost World, is endearing as Milo; the onscreen chemistry he shares with Paula Rhodes, lead actress/former Miss Junior Missouri (2000-2001), helps the brief feature transcend its wacky premise. Once Shuffle settles in, the suspenseful flick straddles itself between mystery and romantic comedy, not unlike Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The film is weighed down by sentimental schmaltz — not the least of which comes courtesy of writer/director/composer Kurt Kuenne's overwrought, sappy score — but Shuffle manages to be both a light, hand-holding date movie and a tense nail biter at the same time.
— Ryan Wasoba

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