By Anna Pulley
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Erin Sherbert
By Rachel Swan
By Joe Eskenazi
By Erin Sherbert
By Erin Sherbert
Friday April 24
12:30 p.m.: Marcello Mastroianni: I Remember, Yes I Remember (Italy, 1997)
A beguiling memoir. The style is discursive, not dramatic, but how better to while away three hours than in the company of the most debonair man in movie history? His remembrances of 50 years of moviemaking are so relaxed and insightful, they make you feel part of a posthumous conversation. Right up to his death in 1996, Mastroianni masterfully combined emotional transparency and wit. The attitude he describes here is one of humane irony -- toward his work and toward himself. Mastroianni merged with his roles but rarely lost the aesthetic distance he needed to shape (and have fun with) his characters. Indeed, he says, in his celebrated collaborations with Fellini (La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2), the Maestro's improvisation of entire worlds made him feel like a happy spectator. Mastroianni can be acutely perceptive about undervalued directors like Germi, Petri, and Monicelli as well as giants like De Sica and Fellini. He makes you want to run out and see everything, just to sample his range -- from the myopic intellectual in The Organizer to the wide-eyed john watching Sophia Loren strip in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. (Michael Sragow)
1 p.m.: Thirteen (U.S.A., 1997)
David Williams' engrossing drama is ostensibly about a teen-age girl's quest for odd jobs so that she can buy herself some wheels, but within that context, it illustrates the essential value of family and community. Nina is a quiet 13-year-old Virginian whose fascination with cars hints at her restless, burgeoning desire to explore life beyond the comfortable borders of her mother's front lawn. When she hitchhikes away from home, her mother's friends, neighbors, and extended family band together to help find her; when she returns, without having found what she was looking for, the same close-knit bunch support her subsequent decision to buy a car by helping her find work and shuttling her between baby- and pet-sitting jobs. Gentle humor threads though the organic dialogue -- "She was so excited about going [to the car lot], she wore a dress," muses Nina's mother -- and Williams maintains a slow and steady pace, letting the understated human poetry of the drama inexorably draw us in. (Heather Wisner)
3:30 p.m.: Funny Games
You can always count on Michael Haneke (Benny's Video) for a didactic and unpleasant time at the movies. In Funny Games he disastrously miscalculates his long-ago-belabored critique of media-induced violence, creating instead a loathsome exercise in cold, cheap audience manipulation. It's about as profound as Scream. Haneke's fraudulent trick here is his attempt to implicate us in the senseless, savage attack on an innocent family by having his two preposterously polite thugs (imagine Eddie Haskell and Lumpy as psychopaths) winking at us as they cruelly torture three people to death. And just in case you miss the multiple Beavis and Butt-head references, we get a blood-spattered TV, too! Sure to break audience walkout records. (Tod Booth)
4 p.m.: Buud Yam (France, 1997)
Even hard-core aficionados of African cinema will find little beyond the attractive Burkina Faso actors and ocher landscapes to savor in this limp, talky fable. An unpopular young man leaves his village on an arduous, Arthur-like journey in search of a mysterious "healer" for his critically ill sister; he encounters topographical obstacles, helpful strangers, and other "tests" of the genre. The unfamiliar settings lend some freshness to the trite story, which is slowed by acres of redundant expository dialogue and other trademarks of bad writing. Boasting all the cinematic voltage of a filmed play, Buud Yam is benign and forgettable. (Michael Fox)
4:30 p.m.: The Acrobats
Anguish among the bourgeoisie, from director Silvio Soldini.
7 p.m.: An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World (Czech Republic, 1997)
"A bizarre, torrential allegory of the 20th century" from Juraj Jakubisko.
7:15 p.m.: Edge City & short
The kids are not all right in Eugene Martin's film, where "edge" refers both to the edge of town separating teens in Philly and the suburbs, and the edgy tension that builds as one group's rumor about another grows to monstrous proportions. After a sluggish start, Edge City draws viewers in by weaving minor but arresting subplots through the central conflict. Martin matches his uncanny ear for slang-heavy teenspeak with a persuasive cast, and his film offers a fairly evenhanded treatment of typically teen-oriented issues like sex and drug use. Unfortunately, extreme realism doesn't always equal great moviemaking, and these kids are essentially incoherent much of the time, a problem compounded by the director's penchant for jarring MTV-style jump-cuts and arty editing. Bothersome, too, is the way Martin undercuts the gritty realism with sappy made-for-TV lines like: "She's not like those other Springville girls. She's real. Maybe that's what scares me." (Heather Wisner)
7:30 p.m.: The Other Shore
Racial politics, on both the personal and national scale, are worked out by two unlikely friends (one Algerian-born French, one French-born Algerian) in Paris.
9:45 p.m.: Somersault in a Coffin (Turkey, 1996)
See Thursday 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive for commentary.