Week of March 19, 2003

Mar 19, 2003 at 4:00 am
cine16 St. Louis. A series of 16mm film on the subject of "Poetry and Motion": "Wholly Communion," about the 1965 poetry convention at London's Royal Albert Hall; "Frank Film," nine minutes of stream-of-consciousness images of magazine cutouts; "Karl Shapiro's America," in which poet Shapiro talks about daily experience and familiar things; "In a Dark Time," poet Theodore Roethke reminds us that "the void is always there." Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20, at Mad Art, 12th and Lynch.

Thunderheart. Michael Apted. Val Kilmer is a cocky FBI investigator with Sioux blood sent "back home" to investigate a homicide. Part of the "Reel West" film series. Screens at 2 p.m. Friday, March 21, at the Kirkwood Public Library, 140 East Jefferson. For information, call 314-821-5770, ext. 0. NR

Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees. It took five challenging years to make a film about the chimpanzees of Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park -- five years of Imax-camera-damaging humidity, early mornings and uncooperative primates. In the end, the footage of chimps shrieking, playing, leaping through the trees and picking nits is interesting, but was the large-format camera really necessary? The opening shots from a plane, capturing herds of zebra and wildebeest running across the green hills and savannahs of Africa, are awesome. But why project close-ups of hairy chimps (and their distended assholes) on the inside of a giant dome? Dramatic it ain't. Still, the material on Goodall's 40-year effort to understand these long-lived animals is inspiring, and it's interesting to see chimps' diverse personalities and complex jungle pecking order. When viewers are informed that 99 percent of the DNA of humans and chimps is identical and then the film shows the male chimps patrolling their "border" and killing every animal in a rival community, it explains a lot about human behavior. At the St. Louis Science Center's Omnimax Theatre until May 2. (Byron Kerman)

Russian Ark. Alexander Sokurov. An astonishing work of art and a near-miracle of filmmaking, the latest picture from brooding Russian director Alexander Sokurov is an 87-minute tone poem, a dreamlike journey through three centuries of Russian/Soviet history, told in a single, uncut Steadicam shot that wends its way through a mile of St. Petersburg's stunning Hermitage Museum. There is no narrative, in the traditional sense. Two individuals, one a nineteenth-century French marquis and the other an unseen interloper from the present day, find themselves wandering through 300 years of Russian history, all within the confines of the museum, which served as the czar's winter palace until the Bolshevik Revolution. Obstacles to making the film included language barriers, a mere four hours of daylight, a cast of about 1,500 and the impossibility of a full run-through before the actual shoot. Those without a good foundation in Russian history may become frustrated, and some viewers may get bored. But for those who have the necessary tenacity, vision and romantic spirit, this film will prove a transcendent experience. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday-Sunday, March 21-23, in the Moore Auditorium, Webster University, 470 E. Lockwood. (Jean Oppenheimer)