April 23, 2003
It's funny in Kansas
Arts and Entertainment
Film listings are edited by Cheryl Eddy. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Meryl Cohen, David Fear, Dina Gachman, Susan Gerhard, Dennis Harvey, Johnny Ray Huston, Patrick Macias, and Chuck Stephens. See Rep Clock and Movie Clock, for theater information.
San Francisco International Film Festival
The 46th San Francisco International Film Festival takes place April 17-May 1. Venues are the AMC Kabuki 8 Theatre, 1881 Post, S.F.; Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, S.F.; PFA Theater, 2575 Bancroft, Berk; and CineArts at Palo Alto Square, 3000 El Camino Real, Bldg. Six, Palo Alto. For more information, including how and where to purchase tickets, go to www.sffs.org. All times p.m. unless otherwise noted.
Castro The Peter Sellers Story...as he filmed it 1. The Tracker 4. My Voice 6:45. MC5: A True Testimonial 9:30.
Kabuki Hard Goodbyes: My Father 10a. Eat, Sleep, No Women 1. Nothing to Lose 3:30. His Brother 4. In My Skin 4:15. Oasis 6. Ten 6:30. Bus 174 6:45. Happiness for Free 7. The Devils 8:45. "Wherever You Go, There You Are" (shorts program) 9:15. Cabin Fever 9:30. Last Scene 9:45.
PFA Too Young to Die 7. The Man of the Year 9:15.
Castro Cry Woman noon. Bus 174 2:30. Lenny (Dustin Hoffman: Peter J. Owens Award) 7:30.
Kabuki The Sea Watches 10a. The Weather Underground 1. My Voice 4. The Century of the Self (pts. 1-2) 4:15. Aiki 6:30. La Turbulence des Fluides 6:45. Waiting for Happiness 7. girlhood 7:15. Stones in the Sky 9:15. Almost Peaceful 9:30. Monday Morning 9:30. In My Skin 10.
PFA Doing Time 7. Our Times 9:15.
Kabuki "Around the World Where 8 Kids Play" (shorts program) 10a. Lost Boys of Sudan 1. The Devils 3. MC5: A True Testimonial 3:45. Woman of Water 4. Gabriel Orozco 4:15. Nada + 6:45. Infernal Affairs 7. The Olive Harvest 7:15. The Cuckoo 7:30. The Man of the Year 9:30. Jet Lag 9:45. Nothing to Lose 10. "Stay Tooned" (shorts program) 10. Double Vision midnight.
PFA The Century of the Self (pts. 3-4) 4. Cry Woman 7. Marooned in Iraq 9:15.
Kabuki "The Young and the Fearless" (shorts program) 10:30a. Iran, Veiled Appearances 11a. "Around the World Where 8 Kids Play" (shorts program) 11:30a. The Trilogy I: On the Run noon. With Beak and Claw 1. Eat, Sleep, No Women 1:15. Monday Morning 2:30. The Trilogy II: An Amazing Couple 2:30. Love and Diane 3. Hukkle 3. The Trilogy III: After Life 4:40. Save it For Later 5:30. Piedras 6. The Same River Twice 6:45. Friday Night 7:30. Together 8:30. Mango Yellow 9:15. "Something from Nothing" (shorts program) 9:30. The Best of Times 10. The Eye midnight.
PFA Lost Boys of Sudan 2. My Terrorist and For My Children 4:15. Waiting for Happiness 7. Dark Side of the Heart 2 9:15.
CineArts Hard Goodbyes: My Father 1. Our Times 3:45. Happiness for Free 6:15. So Close 9.
Kabuki All Hell Let Loose noon. "See What You Want" (shorts program) 12:15. Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka'ehukai 12:30. The Sea 2:30. The Weather Underground 3. My Terrorist and For My Children 3:15. Adventures of God 3:30. The Sea Watches 6. Girlie 6:15. The Last Train 6:30. "Cautionary Tales" 6:45. A Hidden Life 8:45. Historias Minimas 9. Sex Is Comedy 9:15. Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story 9:30.
PFA The Same River Twice 1. Woman of Water 3:15. Bus 174 6. A Peck on the Cheek 8:45.
CineArts Dark Side of Heart 2 6:45. La Turbulence des Fluides 9:45.
Kabuki Together 10a. girlhood 1. The Olive Harvest 2. Extra¤o 3:45. The Eye 4. Respiro 4:15. girlhood 4:30. TBA 6:30. Drowned Out 6:45. Owning Mahowny 7. Women's Prison 7:15. El Leyton 9. The Day I Will Never Forget 9:15. We Are the Music 9:45. Double Vision 10.
PFA The Weather Underground 7. Stones in the Sky 9:15.
CineArts The Sea Watches 7. Piedras 9:30.
Kabuki A Peck on the Cheek 10a. Power Trip 10:15a. The Last Train 12:45. Women's Prison 1. With Beak and Claw 3:15. Girlie 3:45. Sex Is Comedy 4. A Hidden Life 4:30. "Wherever You Go, There You Are" (shorts program) 5. The Man of the Year 6:45. L'auberge espagnole 7. Cry Woman 7:15. "Edited by Nelson Rodriguez" 8:30. A Peck on the Cheek 9:30. Mango Yellow 9:45. The Sea 10.
PFA "Cautionary Tales" (shorts program) 7. We Are the Music 9:15.
CineArts Girlie 7. Jet Lag 9:30.
Kabuki Heart of the Sea: Kapolioka'ehukai 10a. Drowned Out 1. El Leyton 3:45. Oasis 4. "See What You Want" (shorts program) 4. Virgin of Lust 6:30. The Best of Times 6:45. Respiro 7. Extra¤o 7:15. Gabriel Orozco 9:15. Comandante 9:30. Power Trip 9:45. Nada + 10.
PFA Hukkle 7. Historias Minimas 9.
Castro Virgin of Lust noon. Hukkle 3:30. Dopamine 7.
Kabuki "The Young and the Fearless" (shorts program) 1. TBA 2. TBA 2:30. Owning Mahowny 5. Comandante 5. TBA 5:30. TBA 5:30. Friday Night 8. TBA 8. Happiness for Free 8:15. TBA 8:30.
PFA Women's Prison 7. Monday Morning 9:30.
Confidence James Foley's Confidence is a heist movie that feels like many a predecessor. All the ingredients are there: good and bad crooks, Tarantino dialogue, an exotic bombshell, and a twisty scheme with a payoff finale. Despite these echoes, the film is fun and mostly clever, and it moves at a brisk pace. Edward Burns plays Jake Vig, a grifter whose specialty is constructing elaborate setups to fleece wealthy targets. Remember The Sting? This is a pared-down, new-millennium version. Jake and his team mistakenly con the accountant of "the King," an eccentric mobster (Dustin Hoffman), and must put things right by pulling off a monster job for him. Burns is OK if occasionally annoying as one of those smooth-talking, balls-of-steel criminals who use the word "fuck" as punctuation; other notable cast members include Andy Garcia as a pissed-off FBI agent and Rachel Weisz as the token lady swindler. (1:38) Century Plaza, Century 20, Empire, Grand Lake, Orinda. (Koh)
Hush The "alternative family" is beginning to lean toward the everyday in this town, but according to writer-director Hashiguchi Ryosuke, it resembles the freakish in Japan. The dramatic energy of Ryosuke's Hush rests upon his characters' internal negotiations of the culture's tensions between modern and traditional structure very subtle negotiations, which the camera captures distantly in looks, misinterpreted gestures, and diffuse dialogue. Naoya (Takahashi Kazuya) is a young gay man coasting from one bed to another when he meets and falls for Katsuhiro (Tanabe Seiichi), an extremely closeted engineer. Into the middle jumps Asako (Kataoka Reiko), an unbalanced dental hygienist who decides she wants to have a baby with the gentle Katsuhiro. At first disaster looms, but the notion of a child begins to bring the three together in the midst of a trying family confrontation. Ryosuke employs a reserved-to-the-point-of-frustrating style throughout most of the overlong film, although his understated layering allows the film's cultural examinations and touching moments to stand out. (2:16) Castro. (Koh)
Identity Ten seemingly random travelers (including John Cusack, Ray Liotta, and Alfred Molina) take refuge at an isolated hotel during a rainstorm, only to discover there's a killer among them. (1:35) Presidio.
It Runs in the Family Three generations of Douglases (Kirk, Michael, and Michael's son Cameron) unite for this what else? family drama. (1:49) Century Plaza, Century 20, Grand Lake.
Lilya 4-Ever Known for the feel-good movies (Show Me Love, Together) that put him on the map internationally, Lukas Moodysson here carries his audience into the unexpectedly darker world of a collapsed Soviet Union where children are treated as junk to be trashed or, even worse, to be recycled by other adults of uncertain motives. With boundless empathy and cinematic exactitude, Moodysson teaches us to care for the abandoned Lilya, played by 15-year-old Russian actress Oksana Akinsjina. From the first jolt of her abandonment at the start, Lilya's life is tough and getting tougher, as she ricochets from brutality to brutality in search of love and survival. This is serious stuff, a tear-jerker where every tear is earned, not by surges of music but through the impact of the hideous destinies to which we bear witness. Here's a film to confirm your worst opinion of mankind and your best opinion of this brilliant and courageous director, who refuses to offer cheap salvation to his characters when the world outside does no such thing. (1:49) Opera Plaza. (B. Ruby Rich)*The Man Without a Past In the dark and in the park, a solitary, silent man the title character is viciously beaten by strangers. He seems dead, but no, he's just deadpan, and thus at home in the Finland of Aki Kaurismäki, where comedy and poverty are married whether they like it or not, yet are still capable of a fine romance. The Grand Prize winner at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, this film is dramatically expansive and stylistically extroverted by Kaurismäki standards invoking melodrama in particular but a Salvation Army-style DIY sensibility is still in effect. Along with cosmic twin Jim Jarmusch, Kaurismäki has a silent-film sensibility: he's fond of sight gags (the anti-antics of an allegedly vicious dog are this movie's comic highlight), and his camera has never met a droll face it didn't want to have a love-laced staring war with. (1:37) Lumiere, Rafael. (Huston)
*Raising Victor Vargas See Movie Clock, page 99. (1:40) Embarcadero.
The Real Cancun The producers of MTV's Real World enter feature-film territory with this unscripted tale of real-life college kids boozin' it up on spring break. (1:27) Century Plaza, Century 20, Grand Lake.
Warrior of Light For many street kids struggling to get by in Rio's massive slums, the one bright spot in their lives is Yvonne Bezerra de Mello, a tireless advocate whose hands-on involvement has brought them medicine, food, schooling, jobs, and (in many cases, most importantly) affection and hope. The earthy Bezerra de Mello is an interesting figure an accomplished sculptor, she's also married to a wealthy hotel owner and enjoys an upper-class lifestyle. But as Monika Treut's portrait shows, Bezerra de Mello is most unique for her ability to cross class boundaries to help her country's most neglected and needy residents. (One friend points out, "High society hates her because they think she is defending thieves.") In a culture where making donations and volunteering are unfamiliar practices, her dedication is all the more unusual, and immeasurably valuable, as this unflinching doc in depicting the bleak reality of the children's lives (physical and mental abuse, malnutrition, police harassment, and worse) reveals. (1:31) Roxie. (Eddy)
The Young Unknowns I don't wanna be a hater, but why is it that nearly every film I see about Los Angeles makes me never want to go there? Especially the ones about languid, drug-addled youth who do sketchy things by pools. That's pretty much the plot of The Young Unknowns, written and directed by first-time film-maker Catherine Jelski. Charlie (Devon Gummersall), an aspiring commercial director who is also a supreme asshole; his girlfriend; and a stupid sidekick friend take up space at Charlie's absent father's house. Predictably, bad things happen, and their normal lazy fury is punched up by the intrusion of distorted reality. Jelski's intent is a critique of this lifestyle, but the film is too weak to ride on disgusting behavior alone. The main character is also such a prick that I winced when the script allowed him moments of humanity, or every time his much-too-cool girlfriend returned to him. (1:27) Galaxy, Oaks. (Koh)
About Schmidt (2:04) Balboa.
Adaptation (1:52) Galaxy.
*Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony (1:43) Four Star, Rafael.
Anger Management (1:41) Century Plaza, Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.
*Bend It like Beckham With a witty screenplay, feel-good story, and kick-ass soundtrack, Gurinder Chadha's Bend It like Beckham (named, by the way, for the soccer star who's also known as Mr. Posh Spice) has already broken box-office records in the U.K. and arrives in the United States with a worldwide $50 million gross already under its belt. Jess, Beckham's protagonist, is a reluctant challenger who's driven by her passion for soccer to deviate from the expectations of her old-world family. Beckham pointedly punctures English, Indian, and immigrant foibles despite a few jokes that are broad enough to hit the side of a barn. But its pseudo-lesbian subplot is unlikely to ruffle viewers of any lifestyle. More satisfyingly, the film's climactic wedding scene erupts into high drama with mistaken-identity mischief delicious enough to ensure it won't be mistaken for Monsoon Wedding. (1:42) Embarcadero, Orinda. (Rich)
*Better Luck Tomorrow Ben (Parry Shen) is your archetypal Asian studyholic but despite his academic prowess he's completely invisible. Ben's crew does its best to tweak the stereotypes: there's Virgil (Jason Tobin), the "other smart guy at school" and a goofy, squeaky spaz; Virgil's brother Han (Sung Kang), a cool would-be greaser with a muscle car; and Daric (Roger Fan), an obnoxious Max Fischer archetype who has his hand in every school club and, later, every scam. Director-cowriter-producer Justin Lin's Better Luck Tomorrow succeeds at infusing the secret life of the Asian nerd with an unprecedented level of sexiness and humor; we can all imagine what would happen if the culture's tenacity, skills, and pressure to excel were applied to crime instead of tests and study sessions. Like its characters, though, Better Luck Tomorrow comes off like an early acceptance-style academic overachiever. It makes all the right moves and is ready for the big leagues with MTV backing, yet is still a little too eager to please. (1:38) Century Plaza, Century 20, Empire, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Kimberly Chun)*Bowling for Columbine (1:59) Lumiere.
The Bread, My Sweet Seasoned theater director Melissa Martin had little interest in making films until the day her friend Gemma passed away. Gemma, an elderly woman who lived above Martin's husband's bakery in Pittsburgh, Penn., embodied a breed of Italian Americans hugely traditional, highly religious, and generally obsessed with food that Martin saw as slowly disappearing from the American landscape. She felt a need to preserve that image, and chose film as the medium for her monument because it could reach a larger audience. Unfortunately, she also gathered a cast and crew with little to no experience in film. The resulting movie is sweet and obviously heartfelt but plagued throughout by writing and acting that clearly belongs on the stage. The only member of the cast who seems comfortable in front of the camera is Scott Baio, who, despite a post-'80s lull, seems well on his way to building a new career in independent cinema. (1:40) Galaxy, Oaks. (Cohen)
Bringing Down the House (1:45) Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.
Bulletproof Monk Any movie with the guts to aim for a mix of The Matrix, The Karate Kid, and Raiders of the Lost Ark should theoretically be anything but dull, particularly if such a film were to star the original Tiger on Beat himself, Chow Yun-Fat. Sad to say, Bulletproof Monk is a film that defies all expectations in the worst way. There is precious little excitement to be had as a nameless, ageless Tibetan monk (Chow) teams up with annoying pickpocket Kar (Seann William Scott) to protect an ancient sacred scroll with vague, ill-defined powers from a clan of Nazis. Long stretches of unconvincing "philosophy" and cavorting with a cold Jamie King are occasionally broken by wearisome PG-13 strength action, shoddy wire work, and obvious stunt doubles (when is Hollywood going to figure out that Chow Yun-Fat, Chinese though he may be, should not be cast as a martial artist?). Those seeking genuine thrills should be notified that recent Steven Seagal and Jet Li movies costarring rappers have given far more bang for the buck, and that it is more fun watching Chow pee on Danny Lee in 1978's Heroic Cops than it is sitting through the entirety of Monk. (1:43) Century Plaza, Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Macias)
Chasing Papi If Charlie's Angels met a Mexican soap opera, the result might look like Chasing Papi. In director Linda Mendoza's comedy, a blond bimbo (Sofia Vergara), a pampered society girl (Jaci Velasquez), and an uptight attorney (Roselyn Sanchez) embark on an adventure after realizing they're being three-timed by the ultimate Latin lover (Eduardo Verástegui). Enter a parade of drug lords, FBI agents, and beauty pageants as the passed-out stud is dragged along, à la Weekend At Bernie's. Of course, listening to accented English and reading Spanish subtitles below (an experiment aimed at hooking the Latino demographic) begs the question, why not just film it in Spanish? If only it were a musical with drag queens, Papi with its cartoon interludes, cha cha numbers, and a flamboyant TV astrologer might have a chance at being a cult hit. (1:20) Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Sabrina Crawford)
*Chicago (1:47) Century 20, Galaxy, Grand Lake, Orinda.
*City of God (2:10) Four Star.
The Core (2:15) Century Plaza, Century 20, 1000 Van Ness.
Cowboy Bebop (1:55) Opera Plaza.
*Divine Intervention Palestinian director Elia Suleiman's Divine Intervention is neither documentary nor docudrama, nor even a Costa-Gavras-style feature designed to prompt international action. Rather, shooting in Nazareth and on the road to Jerusalem with a largely Israeli crew and an irreverent eye, Suleiman translates his riven, battle-weary homeland into a comic parable full of slapstick provocation. Consider the opening: Santa Claus gets mugged. A spoof on local violence? A gloss on racial intolerance? A salvo in an ongoing argument about symbolism versus action? It's a bracing opening for a film that fuses humor with inchoate rage but only much later deploys fantasy violence to make a political point, albeit a surreal one. Distilling tragedy from tedium, Divine Intervention invites the viewer into a meditation on the absurdity of daily existence in today's Middle East, as seen from the perspective of Palestinians relentlessly occupied with occupation. Could anything be braver or more taboo at this moment than humor? It is a brave filmmaker who can set aside the easy posture of outrage to mine conundrums and contemplate deeper truths. It is a truly exceptional one who can do all of that without compromising the history that lies at the heart of the self. (1:29) Balboa. (Rich)
Frida (1:58) Balboa, Red Vic.
Gangs of New York (2:57) Galaxy.
Ghosts of the Abyss James Cameron returns to the sunken subject of his multi-Oscar triumph, but this time the end result is aimed more at Discovery Channel buffs than Leo DiCaprio devotees. Armed with some nifty inventions a specially designed large-format 3-D camera and two compact, remote-controlled camera units created to investigate the interior of the wreck Cameron has created a film that's a marvel, technologically speaking, and it's not surprising that Ghosts of the Abyss's best moments are those that incorporate the remarkable deep-sea footage. Reenactments help contextualize parts of the ship (including a dining room with near-intact windows) and bring to the forefront the tale's human tragedy. The underwater exploration scenes are so engrossing that everything else such as the running commentary by actor Bill Paxton and a tense moment when one of the minicameras becomes lodged inside the vessel could've been edited down to make way for more. Still, Ghosts of the Abyss is fascinating stuff for "Titaniacs" and blessedly Celine Dion-free. (1:00) Metreon IMAX. (Eddy)
The Good Thief The rare Neil Jordan movie that feels like a "package" deal, this remake of Jean-Pierre Melville's classic (if slightly overrated) 1955 Gallic noir Bob le flambeur has everything good taste and quite a few euros can buy. But it all seems a trifle unnecessary, a vehicle that's all luxury and no destination. Bob (Nick Nolte) is a smack-jackin' gambler and semiretired underground scenester in Nice who gets clean for one last big score: robbing a Monte Carlo casino of its spectacular art collection. Various interesting international faces like Tchéky Karyo, Said Taghmaoui, Emir Kusturica, and guest-slumming Ralph Fiennes play colorful confederates; taking Isabel Corey's old amoral-prostitute role but channeling Milla Jovovich's dead-eyed runway "allure" is Nutsa Kukhianidze as "the Girl." Jordan dips the movie in cushy color-saturated, cool-club-tracked style though having Bono sing the theme song (three times, by god!) isn't cool at all. His results do play better as updated Eurotrash capering than The Trouble with Charlie managed to. Yet somehow this high-calorie Good Thief ends up tasting like all batter, no steak. (1:49) Bridge. (Harvey)
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (1:42) Four Star.
*Head of State (1:35) Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.
Holes Stanley Yelnats IV (Shia LaBeouf), a.k.a. "Caveman," is a Texas kid whose family curse plagues him with rotten luck. So when Stanley gets sent to a surreal juvenile detention center for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he and his eccentric family just blame the curse. The film's title comes from the endless holes that Stanley and the other kids are forced to dig every day by Warden Walker (Sigourney Weaver), who has some dark family secrets of her own. The warden's associates keep the boys in line, with the sheriff-father hen Mr. Sir (a beautifully campy and creepy Jon Voight) and the slimy therapist Mr. Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson) doling out punishments at will. Holes scriptwriter Louis Sachar (adapting his award-winning children's book) weaves in stories of Eastern European gypsies and Old West ghost stories that add a touch of mystery and make Stanley's story more Goonies than, say, Toy Story 2. (1:51) Century Plaza, Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness, Shattuck. (Gachman)
House of 1000 Corpses (1:28) Century 20.
*Laurel Canyon (1:43) Lumiere.
*Malibu's Most Wanted Teen comedies are like horror movies: critics have grown so accustomed to denigrating them, they can't even tell when a good one comes along. So ignore the curmudgeonly comments surrounding Jamie Kennedy's film given disappointments lodged by such recent, more-hyped comedies as Anger Management, Old School, Bringing Down the House, and even A Mighty Wind, this "Wigga, please!" epic is a shining little beacon of actual hilarity. Kennedy plays "B-Rad," who was more or less raised by a black housekeeper, BET, and Yo! MTV Raps while his well-meaning absentee parents (Ryan O'Neal, Bo Derek) were otherwise occupied. Ergo, he's now truly convinced he and his mallrat "crew" are da bomb. This reps a public relations disaster for his dad's gubernatorial campaign, so a scheme is hatched whereby thespians (Taye Diggs, Anthony Anderson) play "gangstas" who "kidnap" and confront B-Rad with the decidedly nonghetto-fabulous reality of South Central life. Of course nothing goes as planned. A couple of bad-taste (just bad, as opposed to good-bad) jokes aside, Most Wanted manages to sustain its high spirits and silliness right through an "inspirational," just-be-yourself finale that is mercifully a hundred percent bogus. This teen-target-demo'd Bulworth would make a great, deflating cofeature for 8 Mile. (1:20) Century Plaza, Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Harvey)
A Man Apart Perhaps it's too early for Vin Diesel to make movies where he keeps his shirt on. This overly earnest, just-adequate crime drama is strictly '80s-style vigilante action fodder of the "this time it's personal" variety, B-grade material granted an unnecessary "A" budget. V.D. hey, we didn't choose his initials plays a freewheeling DEA operative who busts a really baaaad Mexican drug cartel boss (Geno Silva). Said villain then has Vin's wife killed. Uh-oh: Vin go boom. Decently assembled by director F. Gary Gray, the movie tries hard to pretend it invented numerous hoary clichés, from the "You've crossed the line! You're off the force!" scene, to the holding-back-tears-at-her-grave moment, to the inevitable instance when our hero fumes, "You call me a fuckin' faggot?!" to outscare scary thugs. Also, many vehicles explode. A Man Apart struggles to put a gritty face on cartoonish material, but the surgery never quite takes. After all, the villains here are named "Diablo" (as in "you cannot keel Diablo") and "Lucero," while climactic dialogue can't resist fanning America-wants-vengeance hyperbole enough to suggest the great Satan himself no, not us silly, we mean Saddam! Keepin' it so "real" that all of his homies here must call him "dawg" (amid a Dr. Dre soundtrack, yet), the new Diesel is so feh you might actually miss last year's XXX party-blowhard action figure. (2:00) Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness. (Harvey)
*Marion Bridge (1:33) Roxie.
*A Mighty Wind The latest from Christopher Guest (Best in Show) and his ensemble of comics and character actors is another high-concept parody: when the legendary folk music impresario Irving Steinbloom passes away, his son organizes a tribute show featuring the crème de la crème of the 1960s Bleecker Street scene. The event heralds the return of such seminal acts as the Folksmen (Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer) and the reunited Mitch and Mickey (Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara). Wind features the genius comic turns (Levy's shell-shocked Brian Wilson impersonation vies with Fred Willard's unctuous band manager for the show-stealing throne) and deadpan shtick that's become synonymous with the all-star collective. But although Wind is still far funnier and more inventive than most of what passes for yukfests these days, this experiment in without-a-net creative comedy never quite gels; one senses that not even the editing room could turn what's essentially a number of disparate, fragmented laugh-riot ideas into the cohesive tour de force their legacy demands. (1:27) Century 20, Embarcadero, Empire. (Fear)
Nowhere in Africa (2:18) Opera Plaza, Rafael.
Old School (1:30) 1000 Van Ness.
Phone Booth (1:21) Century Plaza, Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.
*The Pianist (2:28) Clay.
*Rabbit Proof Fence (1:34) Rafael.
*Rivers and Tides (1:30) Roxie.*Russian Ark (1:48) Balboa.
Shanghai Ghetto (1:35) Balboa.
*Spider (1:38) Four Star.
Spun Following the doings of a loosely connected gang of SoCal drug addicts, Spun accurately approximates a crystal meth high by being hilarious, grotesque, and annoying in equal parts. Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund has a wicked fascination with the low end of American life (the kind in which trailers figure prominently), and he lays out the environs and inner worlds of his speed freaks with every music-video edit and visual gimmick in the armory. Meanwhile, a not entirely convincing air of "slumming it" hovers around Jason Schwartzman, Brittany Murphy, and Mena Suvari as they toot, jabber, and interact with an odd collection of cameo players (including Deborah Harry, China Chow, and Rob Halford). John Leguizamo's bug-eyed hyperactive shtick gets by on sheer volume alone, but it is Mickey Rourke's quietly monstrous performance as the cook that holds Hurricane Spun together at least until the third act, which trades in intense black humor and grimy close-ups for overreaching dramatics that reduce something wild to nothing more than another Just Say No piece. (1:36) Opera Plaza. (Macias)
*Talk to Her (1:52) Opera Plaza.
What a Girl Wants (1:44) Century Plaza, Century 20, Metreon, 1000 Van Ness.
Zemsta In 17th-century Poland, two feuding noblemen begrudgingly share a castle separated by a crumbling stone wall. Complications arise when a tenant's son develops a fancy for the other's niece just as the wall is set to be fixed and permanently estrange the families. It's up to the bumbling, holy-fool figure of Papkin (Roman Polanski), an unemployed soldier who's manipulating both parties, to make sure romance and rivalry run their course. Legendary Polish director Andrzej Wadja (Ashes and Diamonds) tackles Aleksander Fredro's classic folkloric play like a Gogol farce, emphasizing its broader sex-romp aspects over the comedy's inherent social satire. While his version lacks the political weight of the earlier screen adaptation (done in 1956, when the symbolism regarding a fractured, fragmented Poland was unmistakably relevant), Wadja's film boasts a well-honed sense of regional storytelling and fellow Pole filmmaker Polanski sporting one of the most odious-looking moustaches ever committed to film stock. (1:40) Rafael, Roxie. (Fear)