Top pic picks - Page 2

SFIFF: Short takes on festival flicks

14-18: The Noise and the Fury

Way of Nature (Nina Hedenius, Sweden, 2008) Save for when Werner Herzog is doing the talking, documentaries about the natural world often benefit from a lack of voiceover narration. Nature's seasons, cycles, and rhythms provide their own narrative structure, and simply, silently observing what happens can make for fascinating viewing. Nina Hedenius understands this. Her engrossing year-in-the-life portrait of Lisselbäcka Farm in northern Sweden is cut around creatures great and small — horses, cows, goats, chickens, dogs — and their routines. Although humans are part of the bucolic scene Hedenius so meticulously orchestrates (the sound editing is such that the film would be no less immersive if you watched it blindfolded), they are merely supporting actors. After watching, for the fourth time, another gangly offspring leap to its feet, minutes after being born, you start to realize the ways in which our species is quite helpless. If their keepers suddenly passed away, the animals of Lisselbäcka — domesticated though they may be — would probably manage to carry on. The way of nature is instinct, not mastery. Sat/24, 2 p.m., PFA; Sun/25, 3:45 p.m., Kabuki; Mon/26, 1 p.m., Kabuki; April 28, 6:30 p.m., Kabuki. (Matt Sussman)

Between Two Worlds (Vimukthi Jayasundara, Sri Lanka, 2009) Part vision quest, part historical allegory, Vimukthi Jayasundara's lush and beguiling head-scratcher unfolds like the mutable folktale told between two fishermen in one of the film's asides. A synopsis would go something like this: an unnamed South Asian man falls from the sky into an unspecified South Asian country (although the Sinhala the actors speak places us in Sri Lanka) under siege by revolutionaries intent on destroying all means of communication and killing any remaining young men. Fleeing a riot-ravaged city he winds up in the countryside where he reconnects with his sister-in-law, and undergoes several mysterious and mystical experiences at a nearby lake. "It's possible that one can see today what has happened in the past," cautions an old man to our protagonist, and Jayasundara — with an eye for arresting mise-en-scene, gorgeously photographed by Channa Deshapriya — attempts to offer a way to re-see the traumas of the civil war that ravaged Sri Lanka for over three decades. Like a freshly remembered dream, Between Two Worlds is as stubbornly oblique as it is hard to shake. Sat/24, 6:15 p.m., Kabuki; Sun/25, 9 p.m., Kabuki; Mon/26, 9:15, Kabuki. (Sussman)