MILL VALLEY FILM FEST: Our picks of the litter
In Another Country (Hong Sang-soo, Korea) This latest bit of gamesmanship from South Korea's Hong Sang-soo (2000's Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors) has Isabelle Huppert playing three Frenchwomen named Anne visiting the same Korean beachside community under different circumstances in three separate but wryly overlapping stories. In the first, she's a film director whose presence induces inapt overtures from both her married colleague-host and a strapping young lifeguard. In the more farcical second, she's a horny spouse herself, married to an absent Korean man; in the third, a woman whose husband has run away with a Korean woman. The same actors as well as variations on the same characters and situations appear in each section, their rejiggered intersections poking fun at Koreans' attitudes toward foreigners, among other topics. Airy and amusing, In Another Country is a playful divertissement that's shiny as a bubble, and leaves about as much of a permanent impression. Tue/9, 4:15pm, Sequoia; Oct. 12, 9:45pm, Smith Rafael. (Harvey)
To Kill A Beaver (Jan Jakub Kolski, Poland) Furtive, paranoid, solitary Eryk (Eryk Lubos) returns from places unknown to prepare his dilapidated farmhouse for a mission that, for a long time, remains equally unclear. Veteran Polish director Jan Jakub Kolski's enigmatic drama takes its time unfolding the mysteries of Eryk's traumatic past, unstable present, and future purpose. He's all suspicion when he finds local teen Bezi (Agnieszka Pawelkiewicz) trespassing on his property, but her brazen come-on and hidden vulnerabilities chip away at his ample defenses. This intricate character study in the guise of a thriller puzzle is offbeat and absorbing, thanks in large part to Lubos' prickly performance as a man as damaged as he is dangerous. Oct. 10, 6:30pm, Smith Rafael; Oct. 11, 9:30pm, Sequoia. (Harvey)
Holy Motors (Leos Carax, France) Holy moly. Offbeat auteur Leos Carax (1999's Pola X) and frequent star Denis Lavant (1991's Lovers on the Bridge) collaborate on one of the most bizarrely wonderful films of the year, or any year. Oscar (Lavant) spends every day riding around Paris in a white limo driven by Céline (Edith Scob, whose eerie role in 1960's Eyes Without a Face is freely referenced here). After making use of the car's full complement of wigs, theatrical make-up, and costumes, he emerges for "appointments" with unseen "clients," who apparently observe each vignette as it happens. And don't even try to predict what's coming next, or decipher what it all means: this wickedly humorous trip through motion-capture suits, graveyard photo shoots, teen angst, back-alley gangsters, old age, and more (yep, that's the theme from 1954's Godzilla you hear; oh, and yep, that's pop star Kylie Minogue) is equal parts disturbing and delightful. Movies don't get more original or memorable than this. Oct. 11, 6pm, Sequoia; Oct. 12, 3:15pm, Smith Rafael. (Eddy)
The 35th Mill Valley Film Festival runs Oct. 4-14 at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St, San Rafael; Cinéarts@Sequoia, 25 Throckmorton, Mill Valley; and 142 Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley. For additional venues, full schedule, and tickets (most shows $13.50), visit www.mvff.com. Additional short reviews at www.sfbg.com.