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Week of March 26, 2003

Animal Crackers. Victor Heerman. Captain Spaulding, the noted explorer, returns from Africa and attends a party held by Mrs. Rittenhouse. A painting is stolen, and the Marx Brothers are on the case. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, at Beatnik Bob's Café, City Museum. 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)

Nuremberg: Tyranny on Trial. Don Horan. Using archival film footage, expert commentary and personal reminiscences, Nuremberg documents the events, strategies and legal innovations of the unprecedented war-crime trials of Nazi officials. Nuremberg prosecutor Whitney Harris gives introductory remarks. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 30, in the theater of the Holocaust Museum, 12 Millstone Drive. For information, call 314-442-3711. NR

Smoke Signals. Chris Eyre. Thomas is a young Indian and a nerd who wears oversized glasses and tells everybody stories they don't want to hear. Thomas offers to fund Victor's trip to get his father's remains, but only if Thomas can accompany him. Screens at 2 p.m. Friday, March 28, at the Kirkwood Public Library, 140 East Jefferson. For information, call 314-821-5770, ext. 0. NR

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