Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n' Roll. Korea.

The 41st San Francisco International Film Festival

4 p.m. (Clay): A Friend of
the Deceased & short
(Ukraine/France, 1997)

Under the guise of criticizing the soulless New Ukraine, this torpid malaisorama peddles a debased version of brooding coffee-shop glamour. Sure, it's sad that capitalism has rendered director Viatcheslav Krichtofovich's intellectual protagonist useless. But this tousled homebody would be more compelling if 1) he weren't so relentlessly stupid and 2) if other key characters, like his philologist-turned-yuppie wife, weren't conceived just to make him look more sensitive and soulful. The film's gimmick is simple: In order to pull off a particularly gutless form of suicide, this good-looking, unemployed egghead pays for a professional hit on himself. Unfortunately, this gimmick is also simple-minded. The brain decides to live after all, but does nothing to call off the plan except hire a bodyguard to kill the hit man. The hit man even talks to his target on the telephone, and our supposed anti-hero doesn't try to tell him what's up. Their brief conversation provides several movie walkout moments, and nothing that ensues is satisfying enough to make you happy if you stay. (Michael Sragow)

7 p.m. (Clay): The Opposite
of Sex (U.S.A., 1997)
The directorial debut from screenwriter Don Roos is reputedly a non-PC look at contemporary sexual politics among both straights and gays.

1:30 p.m. (PFA): The Underground Orchestra (Netherlands, 1997)
Filmmaker Heddy Honigmann's look at the lives of Paris street musicians.

4:15 p.m. (PFA): Crossfire
(India, 1997)
A portrait of Indian class divides after a young woman witnesses a crime.

7:15 p.m. (PFA): Thirteen (U.S.A., 1997)
See Friday 1 p.m. for commentary.

9:30 p.m. (PFA): The Ark of the Desert & short (Algeria/France/Germany, 1997)

A Romeo and Juliet tale, set in a North African village by director Mohamed Chouikh.

Sunday April 26

10:30 a.m.: The Boy Who Stopped Talking (Netherlands, 1997)
A Kurdish boy is moved by his family from his village to Holland.

12:30 p.m.: To Sang Fotostudio /Living With Your Eyes
(Netherlands, 1997)
A miniportrait of a Chinese photographer from director Johan van der Keuken, with an accompanying documentary on the making of the film.

1 p.m.: Marcello Mastroianni:
I Remember, Yes I
Remember (Italy, 1997)
See Friday 12:30 p.m. for commentary.

2:15 p.m.: From Today Until Tomorrow (Germany/France, 1997)
"One night in a not-quite-loveless marriage," from an obscure Schoenberg opera, directed by Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet.

2:30 p.m.: TwentyFourSeven
& short (England, 1997)
Shane Meadows' TwentyFourSeven hearkens back to the "kitchen sink" dramas of the 1960s: It's shot in hallmark grainy black-and-white and it centers around the young lads in a depressed town. Darcy (Bob Hoskins), a lovably gruff geezer, opens a boxing club and aims to teach his town's yobbish stoners fraternity and self-respect via the rules of the ring. Before you can say "stand and deliver" the blokes are spirited sparrers. With the exception of the film's bizarre and bloody conclusion, TwentyFourSeven is sweetly predictable. Given that in the last decade, the long-distance runners and boxers who peopled Britain's social realist cinema have been replaced by lurid underclass teens hyperreal in their hopelessness (Trainspotting and its kin), TwentyFourSeven is also downright nostalgic. (Alissa Quart)

3:15 p.m.: An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World (Czech Republic, 1997)

See Friday 7 p.m. for commentary.

4 p.m.: The Underground Orchestra (Netherlands, 1997)
See Saturday 1:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive for commentary.

5 p.m.: The Life of Jesus
(France, 1997)
Kids in a village in northern France, from director Bruno Dumont.

6 p.m.: Owens Award: Nicolas Cage (with Birdy; U.S.A., 1984)
Local actor Nicolas Cage is this fest's celebrity thespian honoree; a screening of Birdy follows an onstage chat and clip reel.

7 p.m.: Ossos (Portugal/France/
Denmark, 1997)
See Friday 7 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive for commentary.

7:15 p.m.: Thirteen (U.S.A., 1997)
See Friday 1 p.m. for commentary.

9:15 p.m.: Funny Games
(Austria, 1997)
See Friday 3:30 p.m. for commentary.

9:30 p.m.: The Ark of the
Desert & short (Algeria/
France/Germany, 1997)
See Saturday 9:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive for commentary.

10 p.m.: Queens for a Day
(France/Switzerland, Various)
See Saturday 4:30 p.m. for commentary.
1 p.m. (Castro): Little Miracles
(Argentina, 1997)
See Friday 10 p.m. for commentary.

3:30 p.m. (Castro): Come and See (U.S.S.R., 1985)
This striking epic, selected as part of the "Indelible Images" series by Sean Penn, is by veteran Soviet director Elem Klimov. Beginning with a sandy opening scene of boys playing with guns, it follows one kid's journey across a brutal arc of the Second World War as it is played out in his native Byelorussia. Klimov mixes wishful pastorals and increasingly unthinkable barbarism to searing effect; few viewers will be unmoved by the portrait of the effects of a world at war on the mind and body of one small boy. (Bill Wyman)

7 p.m. (Castro): Tamango
(France, 1957)
From "The Unvanquished" tributee John Berry; see "John Berry: Romantic Rebel" for details.

9:45 p.m. (Castro): Once Upon
a Time in China & America
(Hong Kong, 1997)
Part 6 of the Wong Fei-Hung series, from director Sammo Hung.

1:30 p.m. (PFA): Charles Mingus: Triumph of the Underdog & short (U.S.A., 1997)

Charles Mingus' (1922-1979) reputation as bass player, bandleader, and personality has obscured his standing as one of the most innovative composers of the century, a situation Don McGlynn's affectionate tribute tries to correct. This "supremely honest and uncompromising" man, as his widow Sue rightly calls him, had a tumultuous life marked by intense periods of creativity, funks, and breakdowns, commercial success and failure in almost equal measure. There's much new information to relish here -- who knew Mingus was so versed in the work of Schoenberg and Charles Ives? Extensive performance footage, much of it quite rare, and interviews with family, critics, and fellow players draw a powerful picture of a man who, at least on his better days, found in music what he couldn't always locate in life. (Gary Morris)

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