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Past Forward 

For its 40th year, the San Francisco International Film Festival boldly goes where it has gone before

Wednesday, Apr 23 1997
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Page 7 of 7

9:45 p.m.
Moebius
See commentary under Sunday, April 27.

10 p.m. (at the CASTRO)
* The Old Dark House
(U.S.A., 1932)

This delightful and still potent comic horror film, directed by James Whale with an impressive cast both famous (Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton) and forgotten (sic transit Gloria Stuart), can now be seen as the root from which grew both The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It all depends on how the comedy and horror elements are portioned out. In this case the balance is neat indeed: In one scene, a macabre old woman confronts young Gloria Stuart with the inevitable corruption of her fine clothes and flesh. It moves from the funny to the profoundly unsettling in the space of a few moments. House is S.F. filmmaker George Kuchar's selection in the fest's "Indelible Images" series. (Rickman)

Wednesday, April 30

1 p.m.
Tableau Ferraille
(Senegal/France, 1997)
A drama of political corruption in Africa.

1:15 p.m.
* Pizzicata (Italy/Germany, 1996)
This feature from documentarist Edoardo Winspeare is set in the Salentine Peninsula of Italy during World War II. Politics have passed these people by, so when a young Italian-American pilot is shot down, he's able to fit in without too many questions asked. He even learns to dance the traditional dance of the region, the pizzicata. Well, he gets the steps down well enough, but he doesn't recognize the powerful traditions at work beneath the music. Naturally, he falls in love with the wrong woman. Pizzicata is great when the fiddles play, and the people sing. Winspeare's background as a documentarist serves him well in these scenes, but as a writer he has trouble with the story and in fact seems almost grateful to let it drift from his control. The audience won't feel gratitude when they leave the theater dissatisfied. (Maher)

1:30 p.m.
Moebius
See commentary under Sunday, April 27.

3:30 p.m.
Bastard Out
of Carolina
See commentary under Saturday, April 26.

3:45 p.m.
Goodbye South,
Goodbye
See commentary under Saturday, April 26.

4 p.m.
Honey and Ashes
See commentary under Monday, April 28.

6:45 p.m.
* Festival
(South Korea, 1996)

Veteran director Im Kwon-Taek's film is almost ethnographic in its exhaustive detailing of a traditional Korean funeral, right down to explanatory titles during the various rituals. But it's also an engaging look at a huge extended family, with all its simmering rivalries and long-dormant lusts crashing together after a favorite matriarch's death. And threaded through this Altman-esque chaos is a gentle, occasionally maudlin, storybook fable, told from a child's point of view, of the matriarch's last years. These three strands don't quite weave together comfortably, but it's a lovely film despite the awkward structure. (Booth)

6:45 p.m. (at the CASTRO)
Genealogies of a Crime
(France, 1996)

"A teasingly postmodern puzzle," says the fest of this Raoul Ruiz work starring Catherine Deneuve (in a double role) and Michel Piccoli.

7 p.m.
Love Serenade
See commentary under Tuesday, April 29.

7 p.m. (at the PFA)
La Rencontre
See commentary under Saturday, April 26.

7:15 p.m.
Mother and Son
(Russia/Germany, 1997)

"A masterpiece ... a movie of incredible stillness," writes J. Hoberman of the Village Voice of this drama about a dying woman attended by her son.

9 p.m.
Throne of Blood
(Japan, 1957)

The Kurosawa epic, selected by director Carroll Ballard for the fest's "Indelible Images" series.

9:15 p.m.
Level Five
See commentary under Friday, April 25.

9:30 p.m.
Salvatore Giuliano
(Italy, 1962)
See sidebar, "The Subject Is Rosi."

9:30 p.m. (at the PFA)
Believe Me
See commentary under Friday, April 25.

9:45 p.m. (at the CASTRO)
* Shadows
(U.S.A., 1959)

This was John Cassavetes' favorite Cassavetes movie. You don't have to be interested in Cassavetes, or improvisation, or the roots of the New York film style that flowered with Martin Scorsese to find Shadows funny and moving. You just have to be open to a jumpy, hip, mood-swinging form of dramatic poetry influenced in equal measure by New York acting classes and jazz. Concocting a plot that fit his multiracial group of actors, and coaxing them to summon the thoughts and feelings of art-minded New Yorkers (circa '57), Cassavetes captured the meaning of the words "identity crisis." The film's relative looseness about racial labeling makes the moments when race becomes an issue all the more powerful. The title doesn't refer only to the ability of Lelia Goldoni and a brother to pass for white. It also refers to characters living in the shadows of people they hope or fear they might become. The actors fill the movie with nervy, prickly textures. Goldoni has the face of a sometimes ravaged, sometimes aroused cherub. Rupert Crosse is wonderful as the agent/manager of a down-on-his-luck musician -- he's like a captain who's just a little anxious about sinking with his ship. (Sragow)

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