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Week of June 16, 2004

MadCat: Cut Snip Ooze (unrated) Proving that offbeat is not necessarily compelling and provocative does not equate with insightful, the MadCat "Cut Snip Ooze" program presents six dreary works. Nancy Andrews' "Monkeys and Lumps," much too long at 38 minutes, consists of juxtapositions of hand-drawn animation, puppetry, live-action and optically printed footage -- an uneasy alliance of repetitive images lacking vitality. Jenni Tietze's "Anorexie" tackles anorexia with lame sarcasm; Marianna Ellenberg's title piece benefits from vibrant colors but suffers from a paucity of content; and Celia Balan Julve's "Historia del Desierto" uses stop-motion to explore the brutality of fictitious criminal La Mocha celebrated in the media. Carolina Esparraggoza's more successful "monstruo" runs just over two minutes, while Sarah Jane Lapp's "Chronicles of an Asthmatic Stripper" lacks wit. Though accomplished stylistically, each offers a less-than-satisfying vision of grim content begging for more buoyancy. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 17, in the Moore Auditorium on the campus of Webster University, 470 E. Lockwood Avenue. Call 314-968-7487 for more information. (Diane Carson)

Monster Road (unrated) Brett Ingram. Detail by detail, scene by scene, director Brett Ingram delves into the extraordinary and fascinating psychological dimensions of underground clay-animator Bruce Bickford, now 57. Ingram weaves together interviews with Bickford with photographs and footage of his family, especially father George, a dominant influence who's now battling Alzheimer's. Best of all, Ingram intersperses sizable clips from Bickford's films -- stories of movement, violence, the little guy winning and, Bickford stresses, perfecting an imperfect life. Bickford is direct and honest in his comments, appealing in his insights. Self-taught, he began as an eight-year-old with sadistic fantasies about drowning Speedy Alka-Seltzer, became legendary working for Frank Zappa and brims with imagination to this day, continuing to work alone in his Seattle basement to create amazing films. Getting to know him is a pleasure. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday, June 18, through Sunday, June 20, with director Brett Ingram in attendance Friday and Saturday, in the Moore Auditorium on the campus of Webster University, 470 E. Lockwood Avenue. Call 314-968-7487 for more information. (Diane Carson)

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