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Chicago International Film Festival 2011 | Reviews and showtimes

Browse CIFF films by title to find showtimes and read TOC's reviews. Week-two reviews will be available soon.
All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert Mon Oct 17, 4:30pm; Tue Oct 18, 5:50pmDir. Vivian Ducat. 2011. 78mins. USA. Ducat looks at the life and work of African-American artist Rembert, who hand-tools images in leather and colors them in. The art is autobiographical, drawing on his experiences growing up in the racist South of the 1950s. The film glosses over the racial complexities of Rembert�s wealthy white clients and patrons embracing him and his work, which seems a strange oversight at best. Nonetheless, Rembert�s stories are compelling, as is watching him at work.�Hank Sartin
Almanya: Welcome to Germany Fri Oct 14, 4:15pm; Sat Oct 15, 4:30pm; Sun Oct 16, 1:20pmDir. Yasemin Samdereli. 2011. 101mins. Germany. A German boy of Turkish extraction becomes curious about his roots, leading to a family trip. Not available for review.
Amador Sun Oct 16, 1:45pm; Mon Oct 17, 8:15pmDir. Fernando L�on de Aranoa. 2010. 112mins. Spain. This movie has all the raw ingredients of a moving film. But Magaly Solier�s intense portrayal of a woman hiding an unwanted pregnancy from her husband�and struggling with the financial realities of not being able to leave him�allows an additional sense of empathy without the tinge of moral condemnation Hollywood would have layered in.�Amy L. Hayden
American Translation Sat Oct 8, 2:50pm; Sun Oct 9, 3:40pm; Thu Oct 13, 3:50pmDirs. Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr. 2011. 90mins. France. Two impulsive young lovers in France take numerous rolls in the hay, which continue even after ze hunk reveals his dark secret. Indifferent videography and various character idiocies might be tolerable if it weren�t for the film�s appalling, amoral upshot: It essentially holds that being good in bed grants one a license to kill.�Ben Kenigsberg
Amnesty Sun Oct 16, 8:30pm; Tue Oct 18, 4:10pmDir. Bujar Alimani. 2011. 83mins. Albania/Greece. Meeting at a jail when visiting for their respective conjugal visits, the spouses of two prisoners in Albania move into a relationship of their own. Such couplings are inevitably doomed, however, and Alimani�s padded feature debut settles this one in the grimmest, most convenient manner possible.�Ben Kenigsberg
Andrew Bird: A Fever Year Sat Oct 15, 8:50pm;Sun Oct 16, 8:30pmDir. Xan Aranda. 2011. 80mins. USA. Sub out the eponymous Chicago-area musician for just about any other folkish troubadour and you�d be looking at pretty much the same, thoroughly ordinary rock-doc. Fans will eat up the reluctant-genius mythologizing. The indifferent and/or uninitiated may wonder why this wasn�t just slapped on a DVD and packaged as a �special supplement� to Bird�s latest album.�A. A. Dowd
The Artist Thu Oct 20, 7pmDir. Michel Hazanavicius. 2011. 100mins. France. It�s hard not to have mixed feelings about the fest�s closing-night feature�a silent film that will inevitably be marketed to and embraced by people who never watch silent films. (Wouldn�t it be better to rent the genuine article?) But this craftily made, crowd-pleasing homage clearly has its heart in the right place, even if it�s destined to remain in the shadow of its lofty forebears: The movie splices Singin� in the Rain and A Star Is Born, charting the fading career of a matinee idol (Jean Dujardin) after the introduction of sound.�Ben Kenigsberg
Azhagarsamy's Horse Sun Oct 9, 6pm; Tue Oct 11, 2:50pmDir. Suseendran. 2011. 122mins. India. A significant tolerance for Bollywood bombast is required for this bloated, high-decibel parable, in which a Tamil village contends with the disappearance of a statue needed for a drought-preventing festival.Oct 9 showing only is at New 400 Theaters (6746 N Sheridan Rd).�BK
Best IntentionsThu Oct 13, 8:10pm; Fri Oct 14, 5:50pm; Sun Oct 16, 12:20pmDir. Adrian Sitaru. 2011. 105mins. Romania. A man grapples with what to do after his mother suffers a stroke in this reportedly real-time thriller. Not available for review.
Bol Mon Oct 10, 8pmDir. Shoaib Mansoor. 2011. 2hrs 45mins. Pakistan. In a Lahore family, a daughter chafes against her father�s traditionalism and constraints. Not available for review.
Bonsai Fri Oct 14, 5:30pm; Sun Oct 16, 8:20pmDir. Cristi�n Jim�nez. 2011. 95mins. Chile/France. A college student meets the love of his life, then reflects on their relationship in a novel he writes eight years later, in a whimsical romance that toggles between past and present. Chock-full of literary allusions, this year�s bid for an Y Tu Mam� Tambi�n-style crossover hit is playful and often sweet, but it�s ultimately too slight to be memorable.�BK
Buddha Mountain Sat Oct 15, 3:30pm; Mon Oct 17, 3:30pm; Tue Oct 18, 3:50pmDir. Yu Li. 2010. 101mins. China. Three provincial, irresponsible, party-hearty slackers clash with their abusive landlady, a retired opera singer whose prickly exasperation masks deep grief over her son�s death. Surprisingly more playful than melodramatic, this emotionally perceptive drama of loss and connections is, across-the-board, fabulously acted.�Aaron Hillis
BullheadSun Oct 9, 8:15pm; Mon Oct 10, 6pm; Wed Oct 12, 3:15pmDir. Michael Roskam. 2011. 129mins. Belgium. �Roid rage takes on a whole new meaning in this gripping feature debut, a Flemish mob saga dominated by Matthias Schoenaerts�s sensitive, slow-burn performance as a muscle-bound cattle rancher overcompensating for a tragic childhood incident. Belgium�s Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film packs a surprising psychological wallop.�Steve Dollar
The Bully ProjectTue Oct 11, 7pmDir. Lee Hirsch. 2011. 90mins. USA. Although it would take a heart of stone not to be moved by the litany of misery chronicled in this documentary on the frequently sadistic harassment of kids in American schools, The Bully Project amounts to little more than a feature-length PSA. A comprehensive magazine article would have been preferable to the movie�s infomercial-like presentation.�RP
Bunny Drop Mon Oct 10, 7:45pm; Tue Oct 11, 5:25pmDir. Sabu. 2011. 115mins. Japan. When salaryman Daikichi takes in his late grandfather�s six-year-old illegitimate daughter, Rin, moderately wacky high jinks and a sappy piano score ensue. While the sweet, convincing rapport between Daikichi and Rin yields some heartwarming moments, we wish this gentle call for work-life balance spent more time on single parents� everyday challenges than tacked-on melodrama.�Lauren Weinberg
Cairo 678 Sun Oct 9, 3:30pm; Mon Oct 10, 4:15pm; Wed Oct 12, 5:50pmDir. Mohamed Diab. 2010. 100mins. Egypt. This bracing look at three Cairo women�s experiences with sexual harassment grows into a sprawling examination of the negative effects structures supposedly in place to protect females actually have on them. Diab�s film tackles pressing issues without losing its sense of crowd-pleasing drama.�AW
Carol Channing: Larger than LifeSat Oct 15, 2pm; Sun Oct 16, 12:10pmDir. Dori Berinstein. 2011. 88mins. USA. The actor-comedian perhaps best known for Hello, Dolly! gets profiled in this documentary. Not available for review.
Chico & RitaFri Oct 14, 3:15pm; Sat Oct 15, 8pm; Sun Oct 16, 12:30pmDirs. Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba. 2010. 94mins. Spain. This lush and nostalgic animated gem from Spanish artist and designer Mariscal and director and music producer Trueba feels like a perfect melding of two distinctive sensibilities. A potted history of the golden age of jazz in the 1940s and �50s underscores a passionate, globe-hopping love story. There are moments when the references tend to overshadow the romance, but the film is too charming overall for one to care.�David Jenkins
Chronicle of My Mother Sat Oct 15, 2:45pm; Sun Oct 16, 7:50pm; Mon Oct 17, 3:15pmDir. Masato Harada. 2011. 119mins. Japan. So indebted is contemporary art cinema to the films of Yasujiro Ozu that the late director is basically his own genre at this point. Harada�s drama, about a family coping with the worsening dementia of its eldest matriarch, even name-drops Tokyo Story. No hollow tribute, the film applies the master�s techniques to its own unique treatise on the generational divide.�A. A. Dowd
Cinema Komunisto Sun Oct 9, 8:30pm; Mon Oct 10, 4pm
Circus ColumbiaSat Oct 8, 5:10pm; Mon Oct 10, 8:45pmDir. Danis Tanovic. 2010. 113mins. Bosnia-Herzegovina. Divko (Miki Manojlovic) returns to his village in the former Yugoslavia to flaunt his wealth, beautiful girlfriend and fancy car to the wife (Lost�s Mira Furlan) who refused to leave with him 20 years ago. Tanovic�s juxtaposition of petty dramas with a looming war is one-note, but the ironies are potent.�AW
The Clown Wed Oct 12, 3:20pm; Mon Oct 17, 6:10pm; Tue Oct 18, 8:45pmDir. Selton Mello. 2011. 88mins. Brazil. Raised in a circus, a clown leaves the tent in search of himself. Not available for review.
Club Zeus Mon Oct 17, 6:15pm; Wed Oct 19, 8pmDir. David Verbeek. 2011. 75mins. The Netherlands/China. The director of last year�s unwatchable R U There explores the inner workings of a Shanghai escort club. Not available for review.
Cold Sweat Thu Oct 13, 10pm; Sat Oct 15, 11:15pmDir. Adri�n Garc�a Bogliano. 2010. 80mins. Argentina. The chilly perspiration of the title is actually nitroglycerin, liberally applied by a pair of crazed, aging revolutionaries to the glistening skin of several unlucky ladies. The move-and-you-explode set pieces are reasonably suspenseful, but this is otherwise forgettable claptrap, hampered by ill-defined heroes and a grating techno score.�AAD
Cooley High Sun Oct 9, 5:15pmDir. Michael Schultz. 1975. 107mins. USA. Commonly regarded as the African-American American Graffiti, Cooley High is being presented as a memorial for Cabrini-Green, where a significant portion of it was shot. It�s fascinating just to see how the neighborhood has changed, but the movie itself remains a crowd-pleaser, with an endearingly loose structure and a toe-tapping Motown soundtrack.�BK
Coriolanus Thu Oct 13, 8pmDir. Ralph Fiennes. 2011. 122mins. U.K. Updating one of Shakespeare�s lesser plays for a modern context, Fiennes relies so heavily on gimmicks�modern war footage, explanatory newscasts�that the language never takes center stage. Vanessa Redgrave is a highlight as Coriolanus�s jilted mother.�BK
Corpo Celeste Sat Oct 8, 4:45pm; Sun Oct 9, 1pmDir. Alice Rohrwacher. 2011. 90mins. Italy. A 13-year-old girl grapples with her ambiguous relationship to Catholicism on the eve of her confirmation. Solidly made, Rohrwacher�s coming-of-age drama nevertheless feels alternately familiar and unnecessarily oblique.�BK
Crazy Horse Fri Oct 14, 6pmDir. Frederick Wiseman. 2011. 134mins. France/USA. Wiseman furthers his recent study of bodies in motion with this portrait of the eponymous Parisian cabaret, famous for the classiest nude dance shows in the world. Just as Boxing Gym inverted expectations, portraying a site of ostensible aggression as a social utopia, Crazy Horse argues for burlesque as an art form of unexpected beauty and social interest.�Ben Kenigsberg
A Dangerous Method Mon Oct 10, 7pmDir. David Cronenberg. 2011. 99mins. Canada/Germany/Switzerland/U.K. Cronenberg has been criticized for the perceived conventionality of this stealth comedy on the origins of modern psychology, but period stiffness is part of the subject, as a relentlessly proper Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) struggles to rationalize his lust for Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley, in a performance as deliberately alienating as Ed Harris�s in A History of Violence). If the film�s nominal subject is sexual repression, the ending suggests the subtext is latent anti-Semitism.�BK
David is Dying Sat Oct 15, 6:40pm,Mon Oct 17, 9pmDir. Stephen Lloyd Jackson. 2011. 90mins. U.K. Narcissistic, abusive hedge-fund manager and all-around prick David shares his tale of woe (he�s HIV positive) with a shrink, triggering a series of shaky handheld flashbacks and gratuitous art-film flourishes (recurring images of David as a child in clown makeup). It�s intense, but the main character is such a monster it�s hard to invest much in his fate.�Hank Sartin
Day Is DoneFri Oct 7, 3:40pm; Mon Oct 10, 3:40pmDir. Thomas Imbach. 2011. 111mins. Switzerland. Surely one of the most experimental titles playing in the fest, this doc-like thing pairs footage shot (mostly) from the roof of a Zurich apartment complex with 15 years� worth of answering-machine messages. Sporadically striking, the film is too loosely organized to work as a pure formal exercise and too oblique to register as autobiography.�A.A. Dowd
Dekh Indian Circus Sun Oct 16, 4pm; Mon Oct 17, 3pmDir. Mangesh Hadawale. 2011. 103mins. India. Eager to secure a ticket to a traveling circus in town, two children fixate on an illicitly obtained wad of cash. Not available for review.
The Destiny of Lesser Animals Sat Oct 15, 12:10pm; Sun Oct 16, 6pm; Tue Oct 18, 2pmDir. Deron Albright. 2011. 89mins. Ghana/USA. This policier about a Ghanaian cop attempting to buy his way back to the U.S. after being deported is more interesting for its ideas about brain drain than its crime elements. Writer Yao B. Nunoo, who also stars, presents a sincere if unsubtle look at a country where the younger generation is more inclined to leave than fight for improvement. �Alison Willmore
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel Sat Oct 15, 7pm, Tue Oct 18, 3:30pmDir. Lisa Immordino Vreeland. 2011. 92mins. USA. Lisa Immordino Vreeland traces the career of her grandmother-in-law, the influential Harper�s Bazaar fashion editor. Not available for review.
OKAZAKI_HIROTAKE[J.P.S]Don't Go Breaking My Heart Tue Oct 11, 5:50pm; Wed Oct 12, 9pm; Fri Oct 14, 8pm Dir. Johnnie To. 2011. 115mins. Hong Kong. One of two new To films on the festival circuit this year, Heart comes billed as a lighthearted love triangle�a departure for the action director. Not available for review.
 (Oscar Fernandez)
Oscar FernandezThe Double Steps Mon Oct 17, 8:30pm; Tue Oct 18, 6:10pmDir. Isaki Lacuesta. 2011. 86mins. Spain. A quip by the French artist Fran�ois Augi�ras provides the organizing principle of this globe- and time-hopping film, also inspired by African griot storytelling. Not available for review.
Ending Note: Death of a Japanese SalesmanMon Oct 17, 6:30pm; Tue Oct 18, 4pmDir. Mami Sunada. 2011. 90mins. Japan. So intensely personal that it sometimes feels like an invasion of privacy, Sunada�s documentary is a last will and testament from her father, who drew up a kind of bureaucratic bucket list upon being diagnosed with inoperable cancer. The final-days footage is plenty affecting on its own terms; it gains an extra dimension of feeling via a singular organizing gimmick: Sunada writes and performs voiceover narration from the perspective of her dying dad.�A. A. Dowd
Fat, Bald, Short ManFri Oct 7, 9:10pm; Sat Oct 8, 12:45pmDir. Carlos Osuna. 2011. 91mins. Colombia. In this mundane animated film, notary worker Antonio Farfan finds himself exploited by his coworkers and family, but things begin to pick up when he joins a support group for shy people and gets a new boss who shares his most noticeable physical attributes.�JJ
Flying Fish Sun Oct 9, 3pm; Mon Oct 10, 5:20pm; Wed Oct 12, 4pmDir. Sanjeewa Pushpakumara. 2011. 125mins. Sri Lanka. Following three stories set against the backdrop of the Sri Lankan civil war, this debut feature is too languorous to sustain any sense of oppression or struggle. A shocking denouement is affecting, but the overriding, melodramatic tone stifles the proceedings throughout. Oct 9 showing only is at New 400 Theaters (6746 N Sheridan Rd).�Daniel Green
The Forgiveness of Blood Sat Oct 8, 8:30pm; Sun Oct 9, 2:30pmDir. Joshua Marston. 2011. 109mins. Albania/USA/Denmark/Italy. The American director of Maria Full of Grace relocates to Albania for this surprisingly dull take on the phenomenon of local blood feuds. Even the inciting incident, a stabbing, is discussed rather than dramatized.�BK
From One Film to Another Fri Oct 7, 6pm; Wed Oct 12, 2:30pmDir. Claude Lelouch. 2011. 104mins. France. Crowd-pleasing French director Lelouch recaps his career in an essay film. He�ll attend the screening, too. Not available for review.
George the Hedgehog Fri Oct 14, 10:45pm,Sat Oct 15, 10:45pmDirs. Wojtek Wawszczyk, Jakub Tarkowski and Tomasz Lesniak. 2011. 80mins. Poland. This profanity-filled animated yarn about a horny, booze-swilling, skateboarding hedgehog throws a lot of crazy elements at the wall (genetic engineering, neo-Nazis, exploding sex shops), but none of it really sticks, and the attempts at South Park-style satire simply fall flat.�Jessica Johnson
The Giants Fri Oct 7, 8:50pm; Sat Oct 8, 1pm; Tue Oct 11, 4pmDir. Bouli Lanners. 2011. 84mins. Belgium. Dreamy portraits of unsupervised adolescence go down much smoother when the kids doing the gallivanting can act. The Giants� latchkey heroes�two brothers and a local chum, left to fend for themselves in rural Belgium�are played by a believable trio of teenage troublemakers. Playful and naturalistic, the film laces its endless-summer wonder with a hint of impending danger.�AAD
The Good Doctor Sun Oct 16, 4:30pm
The Good Son Wed Oct 12, 8:40pm; Thu Oct 13, 5pm; Mon Oct 17, 1:50pmDir. Zaida Bergroth. 2011. 87mins. Finland. The brat kid of one of Finland�s biggest movie stars grows jealous when Mom shacks up with a new guy on their vacation. Eleventh-hour violence fails to compensate for the aimlessness of the rest.�BK
Goodbye, First Love Fri Oct 7, 6pm; Mon Oct 10, 6pmDir. Mia Hansen-L�ve. 2011. 110mins. France/Germany. The third feature from Hansen-L�ve (Father of My Children) is sure to win her many more fans. The film follows Camille (Lola Cr�ton) over an emotionally tumultuous decade after the breakup of an impassioned teen relationship. This is how you portray adolescence onscreen.�Keith Uhlich
Good Bye Tue Oct 11, 3:15pm; Thu Oct 13, 7:30pm; Sat Oct 15, 2:10pmDir. Mohammad Rasoulof. 2011. 104mins. Iran. Arrested along with Jafar Panahi, Rasoulof takes on Iranian bureaucracy with this oblique, clandestinely completed, intermittently gripping feature, which follows a pregnant lawyer (Leyla Zareh) as she attempts to obtain a visa and perhaps an abortion, but finds herself unable to do much without her husband�s approval.�BK
Habemus Papam Sun Oct 9, 3pmDir. Nanni Moretti. 2011. 102mins. Italy. Better known by its Latin title, Moretti�s wistful meditation on mortality and faith concerns a kind, decent man (the great Michel Piccoli) entrusted with a new job, the papacy, for which he is woefully inadequate. Moretti sabotages his own movie by inserting himself as a psychologist�a blunt role that undermines the film�s otherwise trenchant social analysis.�Patrick Z. McGavin
Haunters Fri Oct 14, 10pm; Sat Oct 15, 10:30pmDir. Kim Min-suk. 2010. 114mins. South Korea. This refreshingly low-key superhero gloss pits emo psychic supervillain Cho-in (Kang Dong-won) against slacker pawnshop employee Kyu-Nam (Koo So), who is impervious to Cho-in�s mental mojo. Unable to sustain the oddball character drama of its first half, the film strains for a Hollywood-style grandeur beyond the means of its humble setup.�R. Emmet Sweeney
Here Sat Oct 15, 8;15pm; Mon Oct 17, 8pmDir. Braden King. 2011. 110mins. USA. Here explores the complicated relationship between an American satellite cartographer (Ben Foster) in Armenia and his beautiful, haunted guide (Lubna Azabal). Chicago-born independent filmmaker King�s frequently audacious commingling of narrative and experimental modes has a probing, sensual texture that transcends its sometimes indifferently structured story.�PZM
His Mother's Eyes Sun Oct 9, 3pm; Mon Oct 10, 5:30pm; Sun Oct 16, 2pmDir. Thierry Klifa. 2011. 105mins. France. Angling for a scoop, conniving writer Mathieu entangles himself in the complicated familial history of his boss, a popular news anchor. The performances are sturdy�Catherine Deneuve is her typically beguiling self, and newcomer Jean-Baptiste Lafarge has a boyish charm�but the melodramatic material hinges on too many conveniences (a stolen wallet) and contrivances (an 11th-hour coma).�A. A. Dowd
The Holding Fri Oct 7, 10:50pm; Sat Oct 8, 10:30pm
Holidays by the Sea Sat Oct 15, 6:10pm; Sun Oct 16, 3pm; Tue Oct 18, 4:40pmDir. Pascal Rabat�. 2011. 77mins. France. Rabat� pays homage to M. Hulot�s Holiday director Jacques Tati�right down to the focus on vacations. Not available for review.
Hotel Swooni Wed Oct 12, 6:40pm; Thu Oct 13, 5:40pm; Mon Oct 17, 2pmDir. Kaat Beels. 2011. 90mins. Belgium. At the titular hotel, an estranged mother and daughter reunite, a husband and wife grapple with adultery, and an immigrant boy separated from his father gets some help from the aforementioned daughter in this hackneyed connect-the-dots ensemble piece.�BK
If Not Us, Who? Tue Oct 11, 8:30pm; Wed Oct 12, 5:20pm; Sat Oct 15, 11:30amDir. Andres Veiel. 2011. 124mins. Germany. After Carlos, The Baader-Meinhof Complex and Good Morning, Night, we�ve reached a quota for biopics on post-�60s radicalism; this slick, politically disinterested entry, focusing on Red Army Faction founding figure Gudrun Ensslin, lacks a clear outlook.�BK
Innocent Saturday Sat Oct 15, 5:50pm; Sun Oct 16, 9pm; Tue Oct 18, 3:40pmDir. Aleksandr Mindadze. 2011. 99mins. Russia. Communist party officer Valery (Anton Shagin) witnesses the wreckage of the explosion at Chernobyl, and while he tries to leave the city with his girlfriend before panic sets in, mundane circumstances prevent their escape in this sluggish and meandering film.�Jessica Johnson
Inshallah, Football Thu Oct 13, 5pm; Sat Oct 15, 12pm; Sun Oct 16, 8pm Dir. Ashvin Kumar. 2010. 83mins. India. A Muslim Kashmiri teen attempts to obtain a passport from the Indian government to play soccer in Brazil, but his efforts are hampered by his father�s former militancy. The story has little room to breathe under the weight of the complicated conflict in the region, which requires so many explanatory title cards that the film becomes wearying to watch.�Laura Baginski
Into the Abyss Mon Oct 17, 7:30pmDir. Werner Herzog. 2011. 107mins. Canada/Germany. Less a typically Herzogian doc than an act of portraiture, the Teutonic explorer�s latest examines a Texas death-penalty case where guilt is not in question. Rather than sleuthing, the film ponders the loss and recriminations on both sides. With its long, relatively unedited testimonies, the film takes a clinical, dry but reflective approach that stands out among death-penalty documentaries.�Ben Kenigsberg
 (Photograph: Hilary Bronwyn G)
Photograph: Hilary Bronwyn GJeff, Who Lives at Home Tue Oct 18, 7pmDirs. Jay and Mark Duplass. 2011. 83mins. USA. After Cyrus, the Duplass brothers take one more step toward the mainstream (and utter inconsequence) with this extra-fluffy shaggy-dog story, in which two very different brothers�slacker Jason Segel, uptight Ed Helms�bond when the latter suspects his wife (Judy Greer) is being unfaithful. That�s about it, really, except for a go-nowhere subplot involving their mom (Susan Sarandon) and an office romance.�Ben Kenigsberg
Jewel, The Sat Oct 8, 5:45pm; Sun Oct 9, 7:30pm; Tue Oct 11, 3pmDir. Andrea Molaioli. 2011. 110mins. Italy. Molaioli�s loose take on the machinations leading up to the controversial collapse of one of Italy�s most profitable companies is both a gripping corporate thriller and a timely encapsulation of the current climate of economic strife. Toni Servillo is extraordinary as the beleaguered CFO fending off inevitable destruction.�Derek Adams
Joint Body Wed Oct 12, 3:40pm; Fri Oct 14, 6:30pm; Sat Oct 15, 9:15pmDir. Brian Jun. 2011. 86mins. USA. Mark Pellegrino brings uncommon sensitivity to the stock role of a just-released convict trying to turn his life around. The actor is better than the material, which devolves into a rote sins-of-the-past melodrama, complete with resentful cop brother, estranged teenage daughter and saintly stripper sidekick.�AAD
Juan of the Dead Thu Oct 13, 10:40pm; Fri Oct 14, 10:30pmDir. Alejandro Brugu�s. 2011. 92mins. Cuba. You might think zombie movies are played out at this point, but this impressively cynical, sporadically funny entry benefits from the relative novelty of having been successfully made in Cuba, even in spite of its acerbic social critique.�BK
Kaidan�Horror Classics Sun Oct 9, 8:30pmDirs. Masayuki Ochiai, Shinya Tsukamoto, Lee Sang-il, Hirokazu Kore-eda. 2010. 2hrs 40mins. Japan. Anthology films tend to be uneven; this collection of moody, not particularly hair-raising ghost stories repurposed from a TV series is no exception. The keepers are Lee�s �The Nose,� about a disfigured priest who can apparently raise the dead, and �The Day After,� from Kore-eda (Still Walking), about a couple�s visit from the specter of their deceased son.�AAD
Karma Sun Oct 16, 5:30pm; Mon Oct 17, 5:50pmDir. Prasanna Jayakody. 2010. 88mins. Sri Lanka.�Amy L. Hayden Yes, this film is about karma, good and bad, from this lifetime to the next. Centered around an apartment complex, the movie is plodding, but it deals in universals: guilt over a mother�s death, life-altering choices, failed and unlikely romances. The last 15 minutes bring the indulgent image-making of the preceding hour and change into focus. At Doc Films, University of Chicago (1212 E 59th St).
The Kid Who Lies Thu Oct 13, 4pm; Mon Oct 17, 6pm, Tue Oct 18, 6pm Dir. Marit� Ugas. 2010. 100mins. Venezuela. A 13-year-old Venezuelan boy searches for his mom. Not available for review.
The Kid with a Bike Sat Oct 8, 5:15pm; Sun Oct 9, 5pmDirs. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. 2011. 87mins. Belgium.The Dardennes stand accused of repeating themselves (again) with this story of an abandoned child and the woman who cares for him, but cross-film references are the movie�s most interesting element: The boy, shunned by a father who refuses to accept responsibility, is essentially an older version of L�Enfant�s newborn. Fans shouldn�t miss this, although it�s more sentimental and�with regard to C�cile de France�s surrogate parent�less convincing than the directors� other movies.�BK
King of Devil's Island Fri Oct 7, 5:45pm; Fri Oct 14, 5pmDir. Marius Holst. 2010. 120mins. Norway/France/Sweden/Poland. Celestial bookends notwithstanding, this absorbing, purportedly life-based account of a 1915 rebellion at a Norwegian reform school makes for a conventional but satisfying prison-break movie.�BK
Kinyarwanda Fri Oct 7, 8:45pm; Sat Oct 8, 12:35pm; Thu Oct 13, 1:45pmDir. Alrick Brown. 2011. 100mins. USA. Director Brown weaves together stories of the Rwandan genocide and its aftermath, focusing on characters from both the Hutu and Tutsi sides. The movie gets lost in trying too hard to connect all its subjects, but this attempt to tell smaller stories against the backdrop of enormous tragedy is admirable.�Jonathan Messinger
Kshay (Corrode) Sat Oct 8,8:25pm; Sun Oct 9, Noon; Tue Oct 11,2:30pmDir. Karan Gour. 2011. 92mins. India. This moody black-and-white tale of obsession struggles under the weight of overbearing symbolism, as a housewife pours out her lingering grief over a recent miscarriage into an infatuation with obtaining a statue of the goddess Lakshmi that she and her husband cannot afford.�Jessica Johnson
Land of Oblivion Sat Oct 8, 7:45pm,Sun Oct 9, 12:40pmDir. Michale Boganim. 2011. 115mins. France/Germany/Poland/Ukraine. A Deer Hunter-esque wedding sequence is disrupted when the groom is called away; there�s trouble at the plant over in Chernobyl. Flash forward to a decade later: His bride (Bond girl Olga Kurylenko) works as a tour guide in Pripyat, willfully oblivious to radiation. Fragmented, surreal and intermittently Tarkovskyian in its stillness, the film offers a haunting if elusive portrait of a city where time stopped.�BK
L.A. Raeven - Beyond the Image Tue Oct 11, 3pm; Wed Oct 12, 5pmDir. Lisa Boerstra. 2011. 74mins. The Netherlands. Boerstra profiles L.A. Raeven, two performance- and video-artist sisters. Not available for review.
 (Photograph: Matt Dinerstein)
Photograph: Matt DinersteinThe Last Rites of Joe May Thu Oct 6, 7pmDir. Joe Maggio. 2011. 103mins. USA. The festival shows off its Chicago cred with this year�s opening-night movie, produced by Steppenwolf Films and shot entirely in our city. Maggio (last year�s Bitter Feast) does a credible job with this story of a small-time operator (Dennis Farina) so ineffectual that when he�s hospitalized for pneumonia, everyone assumes he�s dead. Predictably, he finds redemption caring for a battered single mother and her kid. The movie is watchable, but there�s barely a scene in it that�s not a clich�. Harris Theater (205 E Randolph St).�Ben Kenigsberg
L�a Fri Oct 7, 4:10pm; Fri Oct 14, 7:30pm; Sat Oct 15, 3:40pmDir. Bruno Rolland. 2011. 93mins. France. A college student takes up stripping to pay for her grandmother�s nursing-home expenses. The story is treated with an almost perverse avoidance of the most obvious scenes to dramatize (skip the girl telling granny it�s off to the home, but repeatedly return to shots of our heroine wearily riding the train to school). This elliptical approach never lets us get close enough to what is at stake for L�a.�Hank Sartin
Leave It on the Floor Fri Oct 7, 8:20pm; Sat Oct 8, 10:50pmDir. Sheldon Larry. 2011. 109mins. USA. Shunned by his mom for being gay, a young man falls in with a group of drag queens and transgender performers in L.A.�s ballroom scene, finding love and friendship. Aggressively campy and earnest, Larry�s musical makes Rent look minimalist.�BK
Le Havre Sat Oct 8, 5:30pm; Sun Oct 9, 3:30pmDir. Aki Kaurism�ki. 2011. 93mins. Finland/France. A shoe-shiner in the eponymous Norman port city helps shield a refugee boy from deportation at the hands of a comically stern detective. Finnish deadpan-meister Kaurism�ki�s first French-language production charms up to a point, though the raves from Cannes are baffling�for the man who made Hamlet Goes Business and The Man Without a Past, this is minor.�BK
Like Crazy Sun Oct 9, 6pmDir. Drake Doremus. 2011. 88mins. USA. A poignant situation�two lovebirds (Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin) at a California college are separated after she, a Brit, violates her visa�is seen through the Sundance school of screenwriting, which requires every character to behave in a way most convenient to furthering the plot. Naturally, it won in Park City.�BK
A Little Closer Sun Oct 9, 6:15pm; Mon Oct 10, 8:40pm; Fri Oct 14, 2:15pmDir. Matt Petock. 2011. 73mins. USA. Quietly observed and deliberately paced, Petock�s Virginia-shot slice of life follows small-town single mom Sheryl and her sons Marc and Stephen as they separately and tentatively reach out in search of intimacy. The slight but sincere story benefits from assured handheld camerawork and exceedingly honest performances by Sayra Player as Sheryl and Eric Baskerville as Stephen.�Kris Vire
Lonely Place to Die, A Sat Oct 8, 10:40pm; Thu Oct 13, 10:40pmDir. Julian Gibley. 2011. 99mins. U.K. Those with a fear of heights would do best avoiding this thriller set in the Scottish Highlands; the steep inclines and unforgiving drops prove much more terrifying than the plot, which concerns a group of mountain climbers who stumble into a Deliverance-style obstacle course.�AAD
Love Actually�Sucks! Fri Oct 7, 10:50 Sat Oct 8, 9:45pm,Mon Oct 10, 3:50pmDir. Scud. 2011. 82mins. Hong Kong. Six racy, supposedly scandalous tales illustrate the title principle. The festival has this labeled as being for �mature audiences only.� Not available for review.
Love Always, Carolyn Sun Oct 16, 2:30pm; Mon Oct 17, 8:20pmDirs. Malin Korkeasalo and Maria Ramstr�m. 2011. 71mins. Sweden. Using Carolyn Cassady as a starting point to penetrate the legends of Jack Kerouac and especially Neal Cassady, this lovely documentary offers a portrait of the artists as oft-failing family men. Despite Carolyn�s conflicted feelings about the writers she loved, her affection for them persists in a world where the Beats have become more moneymakers than culture-shakers.�Amy L. Hayden
Love Is in the Air Sun Oct 16, 5:15pm; Mon Oct 17, 2:15pm; Tue Oct 18, 6pmDir. Simon Staho. 2011. 93mins. Denmark. Put fond memories of Dancer in the Dark out of your head; this Zentropa musical, about a wanna-be pop chanteuse trying to bed a megastar producer, is like Moulin Rouge! reimagined by a high-school drama troupe. The sets are hideous, the pop songs are mostly wretched, and the sex comedy is sub-Kevin Smith.�A. A. Dowd
Loverboy Sun Oct 9, 1:50pm; Fri Oct 14, 4pm; Sat Oct 15, 11:50pmDir. Catalin Mitulescu. 2011. 94mins. Romania. So Romania does make bad films. A lothario in trouble with the cops for various and sundry seduces a virginal lass, then falls for her�but of course, he�s bad news. This unfocused drama barely establishes what�s at stake until the last scene.�Ben Kenigsberg
Machete Language Tue Oct 11, 8:40pm; Wed Oct 12, 7:15pmDir. Kyzza Terrazas. 2011. 85mins. Mexico. Though visually it errs on the side of shaky-cam clich�, this tale of romance between two anarchist activists�Ray, a depressed writer, and Ramona, a punk-rock cutter�gives its leads some compelling depth of character. The film�s real subject is family: where the two came from and where they�re headed.�Erin Osmon
Madame X Wed Oct 12, 1:45pm,; Fri Oct 14, 10:15pm; Sun Oct 16, 4:10pmDir. Lucky Kuswandi. 2010. 100mins. Indonesia. A campy origin story about a transsexual superhero, this overlong movie suffers from a bloated setup. But when the awkward protagonist dons a Catwoman-like costume and becomes Madame X, the film�s B-movie sense of humor takes over and delivers frothy fun.�JJ
Man Without a Cell Phone Sun Oct 16, 11:30am; Mon Oct 17, 3:45pm; Tue Oct 18, 8:20pmDir. Sameh Zoabi. 2010. 83mins. Israel/Palestine. Jawdat (Razi Shawahdeh), a young Arab-Israeli man, goes from aimlessly chasing girls to joining his curmudgeonly father (Bassem Loulou) in taking a political stand over a cell-phone tower erected near their family farm. The film is full of laughs and heart.�Jessica Johnson
Martha Marcy May Marlene Sat Oct 8, 5pmDir. Sean Durkin. 2011. 120mins. USA. The name-changing title character (Elizabeth Olsen) escapes from a cult but has trouble discerning which is stranger�her real family or her fake one�as she reacclimates to normal life. Moving fluidly between the character�s shaky deprogramming and flashbacks to her initiation, Durkin�s startlingly confident, boldly formalist debut is gripping right up to its lacerating final cut.�BK
Mausam(Seasons of Love)Fri Oct 7, 6:30pmDir. Pankaj Kapoor. 2011. 2hrs 40mins. India. India, 1992: �The most handsome boy in Punjab� falls for a Kashmiri-Muslim lass. Over the next decade, our star-crossed lovers must bear the fallout of almost every major Indian and even global atrocity, each used as a convenient plot device to keep the lovers apart. Especially laughable are the Top Gun-style sequences with leading man Shahid Kapoor sporting a Cruise cut and Ray-Bans.�Anil Sinanan
Melancholia Fri Oct 7, 8:30pmDir. Lars von Trier. 2011. 135mins. Denmark/Sweden/France/Germany. A bride (Kirsten Dunst) can�t cope with her wedding party; the end of the world is more her speed. Von Trier�s latest attempt to grapple with his depression (after Antichrist) boasts moments of astonishing beauty, and the first half�devoted to the catastrophic party�is a tour de force. The second half doesn�t quite seem fully developed. The point may be that the apocalypse feels like nothing.�BK
Michael Sat Oct 8, 2:40pm; Sun Oct 9, 7:45pmDir. Markus Schleinzer. 2011. 96mins. Austria. Borrowing heavily from the Michael Haneke School of Audience Harassment, Schleinzer�s profoundly uncomfortable procedural concerns a mild-mannered office functionary who keeps an imprisoned boy at home as a sex slave. Finding exceedingly dark comedy in the escalating difficulties the man encounters covering his tracks, Michael will�to put it mildly�not be to every taste, but it approaches its subject with queasy conviction.�BK
Miss Bala Sat Oct 8, 8pm; Mon Oct 10, 8:35pmDir. Gerardo Naranjo. 2011. 113mins. Mexico. Naranjo�s relentless procedural follows a Baja beauty queen (Stephanie Sigman) as she becomes an unwilling pawn for various parties in the Mexican drug trade. The film�s rigor and use of real time suggest an action film done in the style of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.�BK
The Mole Fri Oct 14, 3pm; Sun Oct 16, 5:30pm; Tue Oct 18, 6:20pmDir. Rafael Lewandowski. 2011. 108mins. Poland. Accused of being a former Communist informant, a man flees Poland, leaving a mess behind for his friend. Not available for review.
My Best Enemy Sun Oct 16, 4:15pm; Tue Oct 18, 5:20pmDir. Wolfgang Murnberger. 2011. 106mins. Austria/Luxembourg. If you can forgive the fact that it belongs to the dubious genre of �Holocaust comedy��and yes, that�s a pretty big if�Murnberger�s WWII-era farce is good for a chuckle or two. As in The Great Dictator, there�s an ingenious mistaken-identity plot, this one involving an SS officer, his Jewish childhood friend and a rare, sought-after Michelangelo.�A. A. Dowd
My Week with Marilyn Wed Oct 12, 7pmDir. Simon Curtis. 2011. 100mins. U.K. This year's exercise in prestige-biopic dress-up�based on the set diaries of an assistant on The Prince and the Showgirl (1957)�begins inauspiciously, with Eddie Redmayne's go-getter protagonist as fawning to viewers as he is to his movie-studio bosses. Then Michelle Williams appears as Marilyn Monroe, and her impersonation (not just of Monroe's mannerisms, but her appeal) is so uncanny that it's difficult not to melt. Kenneth Branagh gets a few choice moments as Laurence Olivier, but the idea that any movie so calculated could show us the "real" Marilyn is pretty bogus�this is revisionist mythmaking, sold to you by Harvey Weinstein and the crowd-pleasing whizzes behind The King's Speech.�Ben Kenigsberg(UPDATE, Oct 5: This morning we received an e-mail from Chicago's Weinstein Company publicist, who says yesterday's screening was of an unfinished version of the film. "As there are actually some big changes in scenes and whatnot, [the distributor doesn't] want any reviews to run off of the older version," he says. Because the film was never announced as incomplete, we've decided to leave the review with this disclaimer. To be fair, the movie was projected in HDCAM and lacked tail credits, though neither is unheard of for a press screening.)
Natural Selection Sat Oct 15, 8:40pm,Sun Oct 16, 3:45pmDir. Robbie Pickering. 2011. 90mins. USA. When her husband suffers a stroke at a sperm bank, a sexually repressed and barren housewife (Rachael Harris) goes on an interstate journey to find his son. A warmly witty tale of liberation, this film is bolstered by the talents of its leads.�JJ
Nobody Else But You Wed Oct 12, 8:30pm; Fri Oct 14, 5:40pm; Sat Oct 15, 1pmDir. G�rald Hustache-Mathieu. 2011. 102mins. France. A crime-fiction writer with Ellroy-esque aspirations begins investigating the supposed suicide of a small-town weather girl, a Marilyn Monroe look-alike. Quirkier touches, like beyond-the-grave narration from the victim, scarcely upset the delicate balance of low-key comedy and superior murder-mystery mechanics.�A. A. Dowd
On the Bridge Sat Oct 8, 1:15pm; Sun Oct 16, 6:30pmDir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan. 2011. 2hrs 30mins. Turkey.Down to its nighttime videography, Ceylan�s epic sometimes suggests Zodiac denuded of details�cops, a prosecutor and a doctor spend almost 90 minutes of screen time searching for a body in the Turkish countryside, with small talk and bureaucratic procedure taking precedence over any mystery proper. Also influenced by recent Romanian cinema and more striking on a formal level than it is immediately profound, the movie nevertheless feels like a major work for its maker.�BK
On the Edge Sat Oct 8, 3pm, Sun Oct 9, 12:30pmDir. Leila Kilani. 2011. 106mins. Morocco/Germany. Women at a shrimp-processing plant in Tangier plot a path to greater prosperity. Not available for review.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia Tue Oct 11, 7:50pm; Thu Oct 13, 6:10pmDir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan. 2011. 2hrs 30mins. Turkey.Down to its nighttime videography, Ceylan�s epic sometimes suggests Zodiac denuded of details�cops, a prosecutor and a doctor spend almost 90 minutes of screen time searching for a body in the Turkish countryside, with small talk and bureaucratic procedure taking precedence over any mystery proper. Also influenced by recent Romanian cinema and more striking on a formal level than it is immediately profound, the movie nevertheless feels like a major work for its maker.�BK
Oslo, August 31st Sat Oct 8, 3:30pm; Sun Oct 9, 5:15pmDir. Joachim Trier. 2011. 96mins. Norway. An ex-junkie attempts to restart his life but receives only ineffectual help from the friends who�ve long since passed him by. A major step forward from Trier (Reprise), this is such a first-rate pushing-30 movie that the drug material is almost incidental.�BK
Patang Tue Oct 11, 6:10pm; Thu Oct 13, 2:20pm; Fri Oct 14, 9:10pmDir. Prashant Bhargava. 2011. 93mins. India. Chicago-born Bhargava�s hypnotically shot story, set in the old city of Ahmedabad, India, amid the town�s giant, kinetic kite festival, drifts into a family drama about the division between new and old ways. The cinematography is an impressive mix of kaleidoscopic color and documentary grit, but the story lacks a similar punch.�JM
Pina Tue Oct 18, 6:15pmDir. Wim Wenders. 2011. 103mins. Germany/France/U.K. Wenders�s love letter to German choreographer Pina Bausch, who died during their collaboration on the film, only truly sells its choice to go 3-D in a few scenes. But it�s a stunner nonetheless, featuring brilliant performances in four major works from throughout Bausch�s career. Her company rarely appeared stateside outside of New York; for most Americans, Pina will serve as a great, if late, introduction. �Zachary Whittenburg
Play Sun Oct 16, 3pm; Mon Oct 17, 5:30pm ; Tue Oct 18, 2:15pmDir. Ruben �stlund. 2011. 118mins. Sweden/Denmark/Finland. With coolly distanced long takes that suggest a (slightly) more compassionate Michael Haneke, �stlund offers his version of an actual rash of racially fraught incidents in Sweden. The film follows a scam in which black teens successfully talk white kids into handing over their cell phones. Once the two groups of adolescents negotiate a fragile accord, the film becomes more conventional than it first appears, but this is still confident, arresting filmmaking.�Ben Kenigsberg
Rabies Fri Oct 7, 11:15pm; Sat Oct 15, 10:15pmDir. Aharon Keshales. 2010. 90mins. Israel. Billed as Israel�s first slasher horror-comedy, Rabies overturns genre conventions to entertaining effect, setting a group of unconnected cops, a park ranger, tennis players and runaway siblings loose in a forest preserve with a psycho. The film�s unusual rhythms should be enough to keep audiences on their toes.�Alison Willmore
Return of Joe Rich, The Sat Oct 8, 8:05pm; Mon Oct 10, 6:15pm; Tue Oct 13, 2:30pmDir. Sam Auster. 2011. 95mins. USA. Not to be confused with opening night�s The Last Rites of Joe May, this hapless Chicago gangster flick plunders Scorsese�s greatest hits before making clear that it considers itself some sort of parody, in which a ne�er-do-well (Sam Witwer), hamstrung in this economy, attempts to make it in the mob. The tone is unstable and the editing (meatball wipes?) is amateur hour.�BK
Return Ticket Wed Oct 12, 5:30pm; Thu Oct 13, 6pm; Sat Oct 15, 1:15pmDir. Teng Yung-Shing. 2010. 85mins. China/Taiwan. Executive producer Hou Hsiao-hsien�s stamp seems clear in the opening scenes, which offer an interesting sense of dislocation as a twentysomething woman (Qin Hailu) returns to Shanghai looking for work. The movie takes a mawkish turn once she signs on for an ill-fated scheme involving a beat-up bus, but the sense of economic anxiety is potent.�BK
Romeos Sun Oct 16, 6:45pm; Tue Oct 18, 9pmDir. Sabine Bernardi. 2011. 94mins. Germany. After moving to Cologne, a female-to-male transgender youth falls for a new friend. Not available for review.
Sacrifice Sun Oct 9, 8pm; Sat Oct 15, 5:30pmDir. Chen Kaige. 2010. 132mins. China. Dir. Chen Kaige. 2010. 132mins. China. Chen (Farewell My Concubine) serves up a solid, satisfying, slightly choppy martial-arts revenge picture. A warlord gains license to wipe out an entire clan by framing it for a noble�s murder, then hunts down an infant, the sole survivor. The film might have had even greater impact at a longer length.�Ben Kenigsberg
Sadermania Sat Oct 15, 6:15pmDir. Adam Gacka. 2011. 85mins. USA. Through sheer stalkerish persistence, Hulk Hogan fanatic Chris Sader insinuates himself into the life of his pro-wrestling idol�and what do you know, the Hulkster digs having a fawning sidekick to pal around with him. Though Gacka seems to think he�s made some uplifting testament to the transformative power of superfandom, his documentary works best as a portrait of life-consuming hero worship and the mutually parasitic relationship it births. The film�s attempts to frame Sader�s own small-potatoes wrestling career in cathartic big-fight terms are just sad.�A. A. Dowd
Salaam Dunk Sun Oct 9, 11:30am; Tue Oct 11, 5pmDir. David Fine. 2011. 83mins. USA/Iraq. Looking beyond the images of war-torn Iraq, this documentary offers an uplifting account of a women�s basketball team from the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. The dedication of the young players is inspiring; their personal stories bring meaning to an otherwise by-the-numbers sports film.�JJ
The Screen Illusion Fri Oct 7, 5pm; Sat Oct 8, 11:30amDir. Mathieu Amalric. 2010. 77mins. France. Amalric transplants Corneille�s 1636 play to the age of Xbox. As with modernized Shakespeare, the gimmick defies logic, but the cast deserves credit for seeming contemporary while spouting archaic dialogue.�AAD
The Silver Cliff Fri Oct 14, 8pm; Sat Oct 15, 12:30pm; Mon Oct 17, 4pmDir. Karim A�nouz. 2011. 82mins. Brazil. After her husband abruptly leaves her, a dental worker (Alessandra Negrini) goes on an impromptu excursion. This Brazilian feature sometimes plays like a gentler version of Lucrecia Martel�s The Headless Woman in its sensual, often wordless depiction of a character�s dissociative state, but A�nouz can�t quite tie it together (which may be the point).�Ben Kenigsberg
Sleep Sun Oct 16, 8:50pm; Tue Oct 18, 8:10pmDir. Katsumi Sakaguchi. 2011. 96mins. Japan. Sakaguchi�s film is a disturbing, borderline-surreal examination of how random acts of violence linger, in this case leaving a homeless family to make decisions out of desperation rather than logic. This off-putting movie�s quiet, Zenlike plodding through even the most lurid scenes is sometimes shocking.�Amy L. Hayden
Sleeping Beauty Sun Oct 16, 8:10pm; Mon Oct 17, 8:30pmDir. Julia Leigh. 2011. 102mins. Australia. Australian novelist Leigh (The Hunter) makes the classic first-time filmmaker�s mistake of confusing coyness with subtlety in this tale of a college student (Emily Browning) who takes a sideline gig getting drugged and fondled in her sleep. Leigh withholds all detail and asks viewers to supply the profundity. The carefully composed images flirt with art-house clich�, though the oft-undraped Browning is a selling point.�Ben Kenigsberg
The Slut Thu Oct 13, 8:20pm; Sat Oct 15, 7:15pm; Sun Oct 16, 12pmDir. Hagar Ben-Asher. 2011. 88mins. Israel. An impressive debut feature by Israeli actor and filmmaker Ben-Asher, who plays the eponymous lead, The Slut follows an earthy and sexually insatiable single mother of two young girls who is drawn into an affair with a good-looking returning local. The movie is revealing for what it says about sexuality, desire and severely regimented faith.�Patrick Z. McGavin
 (Akiko Honda)
Akiko HondaSmuggler Wed Oct 12, 8:30pm; Thu Oct 13, 8:20pmDir. Katsuhito Ishii. 2011. 115mins. Japan. If you�ve seen one over-the-top seriocomic Japanese crime picture, you�ve seen them all. This latest variation, about a meek corpse smuggler who gets mixed up in a gang war, offers the usual mix of broad mugging and stylized mayhem. A few moments of well-choreographed carnage fend off narcolepsy.�AAD
Snowtown Fri Oct 14, 8:30pm; Sat Oct 15, 9:40pmDir. Justin Kurzel. 2011. 120mins. Australia. In a rundown community, a boy is gradually drawn into the orbit of a charismatic stranger, whom Australian audiences will identify more quickly than outside viewers as the country�s most notorious serial killer. Wallowing in squalor without offering much insight (a friend who walked out before the murders mistook it for a Harmony Korine knockoff), Snowtown may be based on a true story, but that doesn�t make it profound.�Ben Kenigsberg
Southwest Fri Oct 7, 8:15pm; Sat Oct 8, 12:30pm; Tue Oct 18, 2:45pmDir. Eduardo Nunes. 2010. 128mins. Brazil. Shot in gorgeous black and white, Nunes�s magical-realist fable concerns a woman who lives out her entire life in the space of a single day. Neither its outlandish, Benjamin Button conceit nor its often-stunning visuals can lend the film a heartbeat; its solemnity grows wearisome almost immediately.�AAD
The Student Sun Oct 9, 5:35pm; Mon Oct 10, 9pmDir. Santiago Mitre. 2011. 110mins. Argentina. Those steeped in the minutiae of Argentine politics may get the most out of Mitre�s well-regarded but somewhat dry discourse on electoral pragmatism. The film uses a campaign for university dean (seen through the eyes of a playboy staffer) as a metaphor for various alliances and betrayals.�BK
Take Me Home Fri Oct 7, 6:40pm; Sat Oct 8, 6pm; Fri Oct 14, 2:15pmDir. Sam Jaeger. 2011. 97mins. USA. Jaeger casts himself as a struggling NYC photographer moonlighting behind the wheel of an unregistered taxi. His real-life wife plays the married woman who hops in his cab and finagles a ride across the country. The leads have chemistry�let�s hope so, for the sake of their marriage�but the vehicle they�re trapped in hits every contrivance on the road-movie highway.�AAD
Target Mon Oct 17, 8:10pm; Tue Oct 18, 8:50pmDir. Alexander Zeldovich. 2011. 2hrs 34mins. Russia. In this sci-fi takeoff on Anna Karenina, Muscovites from the year 2020 search for the secret to eternal life. Color us disappointed that this title wasn�t available for review.
The Three Musketeers Sun Oct 16, 5pmDir. Paul W.S. Anderson. 2011. 110mins. USA. The Resident Evil director�s efficient 3-D reworking of Alexander Dumas�s tale of 17th-century heroism, romance and friendship is notable only for its introduction of Gilliamesque, airborne war machines based on designs by Leonardo da Vinci. As the Duke of Buckingham, Orlando Bloom is acted off the screen by Milla Jovovich, whose Milady de Winter uses her feminine wiles and fighting skills to survive in a man�s world.�Nigel Floyd
Ticket to Paradise Fri Oct 7, 6:15pm; Sat Oct 8, 2:30pm; Mon Oct 10, 3pmDir. Gerardo Chijona. 2010. 88mins. Cuba. A young Cuban woman leaves home and her abusive father and ends up getting in too deep with fellow kids on the street. Not available for review.
Tomboy Fri Oct 7, 6:10pm; Sat Oct 8, 3:10pmDir. C�line Sciamma. 2011. 84mins. France. A ten-year-old girl in a new community passes as a boy, apparently because her neighbor confuses her for one. Can the charade last? Not available for review.
Top Floor, Left Wing Sun Oct 9, 5:30pm; Mon Oct 10, 3:30pm; Thu Oct 13, 3:30pmDir. Angelo Cianci. 2010. 93mins. France. A tense ride, Top Floor is also unusually funny for a hostage thriller. When an eviction attempt in run-down tenement housing outside Paris turns into a full-blown standoff, both father-son conflicts and the untenable circumstances of France�s Arab-immigrant population become impossible to ignore.�Ruth Welte
The Turin Horse Thu Oct 13, 7:15pm, Sat Oct 15, 2pmDir. B�la Tarr. 2011. 146mins. Hungary. What is base will always triumph over what is noble, so you might as well stop eating your potatoes and die. That�s the not-much-abridged philosophy of Tarr�s latest, although the eponymous animal, a horse once hugged by Nietzsche, understands it more quickly than the humans. Focusing on the daily routines of the equine�s owner and his daughter, this relentlessly bleak, almost self-parodic film is punishing even for someone who loves Tarr�s 7.5-hour S�t�ntang�. And yet, on a visual and conceptual level, it inspires a grudging admiration.�BK
Turn Me On, Dammit! Sat Oct 15, 5pm; Sun Oct 16, 6:20pmDir. Jannicke Systad Jacobsen. 2011. 76mins. Norway. A refreshingly frank, funny portrait of awkward teenage sexuality, this Norwegian comedy follows the highs and lows of 15-year-old Alma, who struggles with small-town boredom, raging hormones and a thwarted crush by finding solace in a phone sex line.�Alison Willmore
Tyrannosaur Sun Oct 9, 8pm; Mon Oct 10, 5:45pmDir. Paddy Considine. 2011. 91mins. U.K. Gruff Peter Mullan bonds with kind, religious Olivia Colman, whose husband (Eddie Marsan) turns out to be far more of a brute. Spare to the point of feeling insubstantial (despite the dark subject matter), Considine�s directorial debut is a kitchen-sink drama that never turns the water on.�BK
Undefeated Fri Oct 14, 8:20pmDirs. Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin. 2011. 113mins. USA. Lindsay and Martin follow a largely African-American high-school football team in Memphis over the course of a season. The film boasts a few powerful moments, but it�s hardly as invested as Hoop Dreams. You get the feeling the filmmakers could have selected any number of locations, flown in and fashioned a similar crowd-pleaser.�Ben Kenigsberg
Valley of the Forgotten Sat Oct 15, 4:15pm; Mon Oct 17, 2:15pmDir. Maria Raduan. 2010. 72mins. Brazil. Raduan charts the land rivalries in Brazil�s Mato Grosso region, where the indigenous population fights for property ownership rights with private-sector-sanctioned squatters, who the film argues are essentially placeholders for an eventual government takeover. A pointed but brief bit of muckraking, dealing with issues applicable beyond Brazil, this documentary has so much ground to cover that it really calls for a three-part miniseries.�Ben Kenigsberg
Volcano Tue Oct 11, 5:50pm; Wed Oct 12, 7:50pm; Fri Oct 14, 3:20pmDir. R�nar R�narsson. 2011. 99mins. Iceland. A newly retired, curmudgeonly janitor lets the mask slip while caring for his ailing wife. The volcano is strictly metaphorical; the film is seldom volatile or surprising.�BK
Ways of the Sea Fri Oct 7, 4pm; Thu Oct 13, 5:30pmDir. Sheron R. Dayoc. 2010. 78mins. Philippines. A somber but brisk addition to the plight-of-the-immigrant genre, this ensemble drama follows a group of desperate individuals�including several young prostitutes�plotting an illegal voyage from the Philippines to Malaysia. Despite the heavy subject, Dayoc paints with light strokes, trusting his capable cast of travelers with the dramatic lifting.�AAD
We Believed Wed Oct 12, 8pmDir. Mario Martone. 2010. 2hrs 50mins. Italy. Like The Leopard, this four-part epic is set during Italy�s 19th-century Risorgimento, the period of Italian unification. Not available for review.
We Need to Talk about Kevin Tue Oct 11, 7:30pm, John C. Reilly to attend; Tue Oct 18, 7:45pmDir. Lynne Ramsay. 2011. 112mins. U.K./USA.Morvern Callar director Ramsay�s first feature in nine years sorts through the fragmented memories of the mother (Tilda Swinton) of a school shooter; once the flashbacks kick in, it quickly devolves into a moronic, trivializing bad-seed drama. Fest VIP John C. Reilly�s part is way too small for what the film is trying to do.�BK
Wetlands Mon Oct 10, 8:15pm; Tue Oct 11, 8:20pm; Thu Oct 13, 3pmDir. Guy �doin. 2011. 111mins. Canada. After a family tragedy, a mother and son on a Quebec farm grapple with the fallout. The film is nicely shot�the Quebecois countryside gives it some novelty�but the attempts at dramatic restraint seem largely like affectation.�BK
What Love May Bring Sat Oct 8, 7:30pm; Tue Oct 11, 3:30pmDir. Claude Lelouch. 2010. 120mins. France. The second Lelouch title in the festival (see From One Film to Another) follows a young woman through the first and second world wars. Lelouch will attend Sat 8 screening. Not available for review.
The Whisperer in Darkness Tue Oct 11, 10:15; Wed Oct 12, 9:45pmDir. Sean Branney. 2011. 103mins. USA. Branney gives an old H.P. Lovecraft story the Good German treatment, lending it the look and feel of an unearthed genre classic from the Golden Age. As with Soderbergh�s experiment, the film never fully commits to the �limitations� of its retro aesthetic. Worse still, the unknown stars seem ill-equipped to mimic the acting styles of their Hollywood forebears.�AAD
Wild Bill Tue Oct 11, 8:15pm,Wed Oct 12, 6:10pmDir. Dexter Fletcher. 2011. 96mins. U.K. After eight years in prison, Bill Hayward returns home to find his sons abandoned by their mother. A Western-tinged gangster flick set in London�s East End, the film offers a spirited, mildly charming look at the psychology of leaving a life of crime and settling into a working-class family.�Amy L. Hayden
Without Sat Oct 8, 3:45pm; Sun Oct 9, 1:15pm; Wed Oct 12, 3:30pmDir. Mark Jackson. 2011. 87mins. USA. After accepting an elder-caregiving job in the boonies, a teenage girl (Joslyn Jensen) comes down with a bad case of cabin fever. Painful memories of an old lover and the advances of a local jock further frazzle her already shaky mental state. The film�s escalating tension never quite pays off, but asRepulsion knockoffs go, it beats the hell out of Black Swan.�AAD
The Woman in the Fifth Sat Oct 8, 7:15pm; Sun Oct 9, 3:15pm; Thu Oct 13, 4:05pmDir. Pawel Pawlikowski. 2011. 83mins. France/Poland/U.K.Ethan Hawke plays an American professor who travels to Paris to win back his estranged wife and daughter; he quickly becomes involved in assorted intrigues that seem derived from a failed study of vintage Polanski. Hoping for a good ending? You lose.�BK
Women and Children Wed Oct 12, 6pm; Thu Oct 13, 9pm; Tue Oct 18, 2:10pmDir. Daniel Mitelpunkt. 2011. 80mins. U.K. About to become a parent for the second time, a hapless sod goes looking for the teen son he abandoned with his first wife, and learns that parenthood is, you know, not bad. A laugh or two can�t compensate for the overarching slightness.�BK
Yellow Sea, The Fri Oct 14, 11pmDir. Na Hong-jin. 2011. 140mins. South Korea. This operatic immigrant-gangster saga from the director of The Chaser tracks Chinese cab driver Gu-nam (Ha Jung-woo) as he sneaks into Korea and gets ensnared in a mob war. The nasty, comic and brilliantly staged knife fights are arterial-sprayed illustrations of the widening economic inequalities in capitalist China.�R. Emmet Sweeney
By TOC Staff |

All showings are at AMC River East 21 unless otherwise noted.

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