Week of February 19, 2003

The Believer. Henry Bean. Based on the true story of a yeshiva student who becomes a leader of a neo-Nazi skinhead group. Includes graphic scenes of violence and sexual content. Cliff Froehlich, executive director of Cinema St. Louis, introduces the film. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 23, at the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. For more information, call 314-432-0020. Free. NR

cine16 St. Louis. Two films, celebrating Black History Month, will screen. American Shoeshine, directed by Sparky Green, explores the world of the shoeshine artist. Eyes on the Prize: Ain't Scared of Your Jails, directed by Henry Hampton, takes a look at the leadership role of students in the civil-rights movement. The program, presented in partnership with the Henry Hampton Collection of the Washington University libraries, screens at 8 p.m., Thursday, February 20, at the Mad Art Gallery, 12th and Lynch. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. NR

The Driver. Walter Hill. Hill's second feature (after the evocative period piece Hard Times) is a deliberately cool exercise in neo-noir by way of the European gangster movies of Jean-Pierre Melville. There's no plot here, just conflicts in the form of chases. And no characters either, just the Hero (Ryan O'Neal), the Girl (Isabelle Adjani) and the Cop (Bruce Dern), figures so hardened by archetype that you half expect the other performers to ask them to lighten up. One runs, the other follows. There are several excellent setpieces and a haunting view of Los Angeles as a dreamlike City of Night, but the watered-down existential angst starts to run thin before it's over, with nothing but self-satisfied forays into violence to take its place. It's a fascinating anomaly in the career of a talented but frustrating director whose work has shifted wildly from inspired genre reworkings to desperate-to-please commercial hits, rarely finding a satisfactory middle ground. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 25, in the Fontbonne University library's Lewis Room. For information, call 314-719-8061. (Robert Hunt)

The Isle. Kim Ki-Duk. Ever had a hankering to see an act of defecation from the point of view of someone under the surface of the toilet water, staring up into a butthole? No? How about seeing a human being snagged in the throat by a fishhook and reeled in? Or maybe someplace other than the throat? If these aren't exactly your thing, you may not be the type to fully appreciate director Ki-duk Kim's little drama, set on a large lake full of small manmade-island houses rented by uncouth fishermen who've apparently never heard the phrase "Don't shit where you eat." Presiding over the lake is mute hottie Hee-Jin (Suh Jung), who amuses herself by tormenting the dumb yokels and occasionally getting naked. Surprisingly, all this is kinda boring until the obligatory shock scenes, which also include animal torture. You get the impression that some kind of allegory is at work, but honestly, if you came for the sadomasochism, save your cash and buy one of those Clive Barker Tortured Souls toys instead.Screens at 7 p.m. Friday-Sunday, February 21-23, in Webster University's Moore Auditorium, 470 E. Lockwood. (Luke Y. Thompson)

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)

The Last Just Man. Steven Silver. Focuses on the reminiscences of Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, who led a small UN peacekeeping force into Rwanda in 1994. As the fragile peace between Hutu and Tutsis deteriorated, Dallaire maneuvered with courage, finesse and, soon, desperation to protect the Belgian soldiers (six were murdered) and the endangered Tutsis. Despite repeated requests from Dallaire, the UN's refusal for increased authority (for peace making versus peace keeping) or for critically needed additional support negated attempts to prevent genocide: 800,000 Tutsis grotesquely massacred within 100 days, most with machetes. Silver follows Dallaire's account chronologically, adding informative historical footage and contemporary interviews that indict UN and US inaction. Dallaire's continuing anguish over what he considers his failure (including two suicide attempts) is heartbreaking. In English and French with English subtitles. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 25, in Webster University's Moore Auditorium. (Diane Carson)

Romance. Sergio Bianchi. Three people search for clues after the death of a left-wing intellectual and journalist who was working to expose international business corruption. In Portuguese with English subtitles. Screens at 7 p.m., Thursday, February 20, in Webster University's Moore Auditorium. NR

The Searchers. John Ford. Some critics say this 1956 Western is the greatest American film ever made. See for yourself. Part of "The Reel West" film series. Screens at 2 p.m., Friday, February 21, at the Kirkwood Public Library, 140 East Jefferson. For information, call 314-821-5770, ext. 0. NR

Unchained Memories: Readings From the Slave Narratives. Words of slaves are brought to life through the voices of African-American actors, including Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle, Ozzie Davis and Ruby Dee. This HBO documentary screens at 7 p.m., Thursday, February 20, at the Carpenter Branch of the St. Louis Public Library, 3309 S. Grand. NR

Scroll to read more Movie Reviews & News articles (1)
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Riverfront Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.