SU -SAUDADE DO FUTURO
Oak Street Cinema, Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
Like many Minnesotans, I knew only a few crude details about Brazil--biggest country in South America; home to equatorial rain forests, Carnaval, and the girl from Ipanema--before being schooled by the dense cultural nuances of this wonderful documentary. Saudade do Futuro is an impressionistic portrait of São Paulo, the world's fifth-largest city, as experienced by the Nordestinos who have migrated from the drought-stricken regions of the northeast. The Portuguese word saudade loosely translates as sadness plus nostalgia, befitting the accounts of racism, illiteracy, and woe from Nordestinos across the economic spectrum. But the film's most indelible elements are joyful and music-related--particularly the wordplay of Sonhador & Peneira, whose humorous, freestyle repente rhymes, like the best contemporary hip hop, conflate sociopolitical wisdom and street-level entertainment. --Britt Robson
SU -FEMI KUTI: WHAT'S GOING ON?
Oak Street Cinema, Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
A gifted director meets a gifted ranter and runs with him--through Paris, New York, and the clogged streets of Lagos. The ranter is the son of Fela Kuti, the Nigerian superstar who was equal parts Malcolm X and James Brown; the director is Jacques Goldstein, who never quite gets inside the burden of being Fela's son. Still, Femi Kuti is a fascinating exterior. In the recording studio, Goldstein lovingly disassembles the music. In a car, the saxophonist returns the favor by playing tour guide to his homeland: giving in to road rage, pointing out gas lines (in an oil-rich country), and bribing a crowd of apparent fans to relinquish his vehicle. He's both despairing and vibrant, like everyone else in Lagos. (The film screens on a double bill with Ali Farka Touré: Springing From the Roots.) --Peter S. Scholtes
Heights Theater, Sunday at 7:00 p.m.
A splendidly crafted miniature of a movie, this low-key and contemporary East of Eden slyly unfolds its tale of family secrets while evoking a world that has the feel of a real place inhabited by real people. These include the titular hero (Anson Mount), a hayseed Don Juan who helps out on his dad's Nebraska farm, but doesn't seem to have much ambition beyond maintaining his car and finding someone to share the back seat. Tully's straight-arrow younger brother Earl (Glenn Fitzgerald) disapproves, and when levelheaded Ella Smalley (Julianne Nicholson) returns from college, she's one more thing that keeps the siblings apart. The film's pace remains unhurried, its performances remain unhistrionic, and its fields and flyblown habitations remain unchanged despite emotional convulsions and bittersweet resolutions. --Peter Keough
SU -BOOT FACTORY
Bryant-Lake Bowl, Sunday and Monday at 9:30 p.m.
Renowned underground auteur Lech Kowalski (D.O.A., Born to Lose) knows there's plenty of pathos to be mined in the tale of Polish punks struggling with the contradictions inherent in being both rebels and diehard capitalists who make Doc Marten knockoffs by hand. Throw in the obligatory drug problems, a punk wedding with Del Shannon's "Runaway" limping out of a Farfisa, and a Hitchcockian shot of water swirling down a toilet, and you've got the makings of a great documentary. Too bad Kowalski chose to ignore character development, narrative construction, and anything else that might have fulfilled the potential of a promising premise. I know: There's a punk aesthetic to be adhered to. But the aimlessness here is otherwise depressingly devoid of purpose. --Michael Metzger
SU -A SKIN TOO FEW: THE DAYS OF NICK DRAKE
Oak Street Cinema, Monday at 7:30 p.m.
The brilliant singer-songwriter Nick Drake--who died in 1974 at the age of 26, never having achieved much success--has always been an enigma in the music world. And in the absence of any actual footage or non-musical recordings of the melancholy, reclusive English artist, this documentary can't help enhancing the mystery. Indeed, by focusing primarily on haunting shots of Drake's dwelling places, set quite naturally to his music, director Jeroen Berkvens seems to emphasize the fundamental inscrutability of his subject. Even the few interviews here--with Drake's collaborators and his sister--seem to emphasize the point. A Skin Too Few is a gorgeous, lovingly made film, but don't be surprised if you walk away from it knowing even less about Drake than you did going in. (It screens on a double bill with the Soul Asylum doc Something Out of Nothing.) --Bilge Ebiri
SU -THE DADDY OF ROCK N ROLL
Oak Street Cinema, Monday at 9:30 p.m.
Confronting Wesley Willis must be strange. But being the 320-pound, schizophrenic musician must be even stranger. Willis hears demons in his head, greets his friends by head-butting them, and writes songs about fellating zoo animals. Still, as this fantastic documentary demonstrates, just because the outsider artist's bizarre antics are enough to make you laugh--indeed, they are as hilarious as they are sad--doesn't mean he can be dismissed as some irony-loving hipster's punch line. Willis proves himself a talented sketcher of haunting cityscapes, a good friend to local audiophiles, and a shrewd businessman who knows that hamming up his illness just a little can get him exactly what he wants. What he desires most is to become a famous icon. And with The Daddy of Rock N Roll, he's on his way. (The film screens on a double bill with Langley Schools Music Project.) --Melissa Maerz