Filmed on the Body 2

Week 2 of the San Francisco International Film Festival

Saturday, April 28, 7:20 p.m., AMC Kabuki

Not Forgotten(Japan, 2000)

Grumpy Old Men meets After Life? Maybe a little facile, but how else to characterize a story of Pacific War veterans, still suffering from survivor's guilt, getting tangled in a cult that forces them to examine their youthful memories and ponder their impending journey to the world beyond? What at first seems to be a seniors' aid organization turns out to be one of those (currently very active) "businesses" that harass vulnerable people into spending vast amounts on Buddhist memorials to assuage their feelings of self-blame for remaining alive. But maudlin clichés -- like a harmonica memento and a promise made to a lonely, half-black American boy -- clutter up and distract from what might have been an incisive comment on the brainwashing capacities of any Japanese organization -- whether military, company, yakuza, or cult. Fans of Japanese cinema may recognize Ozu and Kurosawa stalwarts among the cast. (Frako Loden)

Come Undone
Come Undone
Southern Comfort
Southern Comfort

Details

Through May 3 For festival information call 931-FILM or visit www.sffs.org For tickets, call (510) 601-8932
Screenings take place at the AMC Kabuki 8 Theater (1881 Post at Fillmore); the Castro Theater (429 Castro near Market); the Pacific Film Archive (2575 Bancroft at Bowditch, UC Berkeley campus); and Landmark's Park Theater (1275 El Camino Real near Valparaiso, Menlo Park)

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Friday, April 27, at 12:45 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Saturday, April 28, 6:30 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Sunday, April 29, 1 p.m., AMC Kabuki

73 Model (Argentina, 1999)

The model of the title is a 26-year-old Chevy purchased by three slackers just entering their 20s. Like the car, they don't do much of anything. One takes snapshots; another pirates audiotapes; the third paints billboards. In between they wander through their native Salta, a sort of Argentine El Cerrito, and play pinball, frequent a disco, and chase girls (a laundress, a physics tutor, and a shopping mall Santa, respectively). In a charitable mood one could describe the film's ambience as suburban ennui; the cinematic results are predictably tedious. The plentiful, poorly translated subtitles are distracting at best. (Matthew Stafford)

Tuesday, May 1, 7:10 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Wednesday, May 2, 9:15 p.m., AMC Kabuki Southern Comfort (U.S.A., 2000)

A farmer from the Georgia backwoods faces death with loving support from his family and friends -- a poignant story compounded by the farmer's transsexuality and the cancer in his cervix and ovaries. Kate Davis' documentary follows Robert Eads, a cigarette-smoking, God-fearing, female-to-male transsexual, over the last year of his life, season by season, climaxing with the annual Southern Comfort conference in Atlanta -- "the cotillion of the trans community" -- at which he is honored. His "chosen family" of local transsexuals (including several brothers, a son, two sisters-in-law, and a girlfriend) bears all of the jealousies, conflicts, and affections of many another brood. Despite the film's rambling, home-movie quality, it's a story with undertones of intolerance and courage under fire that's worth getting caught up in. (Matthew Stafford)

Friday, April 27, 4 p.m., MAC Kabuki; Saturday, April 28, 9:20 p.m., AMC Kabuki Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (South Korea, 2000)

A full-body immersion in sustained tedium that provides the viewer with endless opportunity to ponder what's worse: empty silences or insipid dialogue. Two boorish older guys clumsily, haltingly pursue a drippy virgin with no discernible personality. The story unspools from one man's perspective; later we see the same scenes through the girl's eyes. (Imagine that! People at the start of a relationship interpret things differently. How revelatory.) Pass the time by tracking how much of the movie consists of conversations in restaurants, where neither the talk nor the people go anywhere. A procession of formal compositions shot in black-and-white with a stubbornly fixed camera, the film has a classical look that nearly succeeds in concealing its banality behind a chilly veneer of pretentiousness. (Michael Fox)

Monday, April 30, 9:30 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Tuesday, May 1, 6:45 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Thursday, May 3, 9:15 p.m., PFA

Werckmeister Harmonies

(Hungary, 2000)

Cult fave Bela Tarr's wonderful, horrible reverie on the New World Disorder has all the hallmarks of classic Eastern European cinema -- dreary settings, unforgettable faces, profoundly haunting black-and-white imagery, and a mysteriously ambiguous (and thus all the more ominous) political climate. An earnest young man makes the rounds in his freezing village, tending to the needs of various elder citizens, as a mob of unsmiling men gathers in the village square. The time is either just before or just after the (pick one) depression/war/ecological catastrophe/ apocalypse, and the center cannot hold. Tarr's fable is strewn with allusions to World War II, the Soviet invasion of Hungary, life behind the Iron Curtain, and the meanness of recent capitalism; he achieves an unsettling tone somewhere between earthy realism and a science-fiction future where society has devolved into two choices: anarchy or totalitarianism. A mesmerizing eulogy to the waning days of artistic beauty and free speech, and not to be missed. (Michael Fox)

Friday, April 27, 3:15 & 6:30 p.m., AMC Kabuki; Sunday, April 29, 5:30 p.m., PFA; Tuesday, May 1, 9:15 p.m., AMC Kabuki

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