Film Fest Coverage II: The Sequel

The M-SPIFF's second week brings 'The World' and more

THE WORLD
Oak Street Cinema, Thursday at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday at 6:45 p.m.

This latest dispatch from Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke revisits the themes of his Unknown Pleasures and Platform: a hesitant romance, the growing pains of modernization, the urge for flight in a culture of inertia. Jia's rootless young adults are finally in the big city--and, in a dizzying Baudrillardian irony, employed at a Beijing theme park that promises a "new world every day." Jia's first government-sanctioned film is his most flamboyant yet--and also his most conventional. --Dennis Lim


A TOUT DE SUITE
Riverview Theater, Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

In the best film in years from Benôit Jacquot (A Single Girl), it's the mid-'70s, and our nameless, upper-middle-class heroine (Isild Le Besco) is a 19-year-old art student seduced by a young Moroccan man's beauty and eccentricity. Her life turns into a Godard film: That new crush (Ouassini Embarek) is a bank robber, and she joins him and his partner on the lam across Spain, Morocco, and Greece, with one eye looking back on the country (and the carnage) left behind. With stunning wide-screen digital videography, Jacquot (who'll be present at the screening) charts the young woman's inner storm as she's blown by the inexorable vagaries of circumstance toward a state of catatonia. --Mark Peranson


THE LAST MOGUL
The Bell, Friday at 5:15 p.m. and Sunday at 9:15 p.m.

This voluminous doc about old-school movie mogul Lew Wasserman has some of the page-turning momentum of a James Ellroy thriller. Part of the delight is in seeing some familiar Hollywood faces spin amazing yarns; part of it is in remembering a moment when there still was some show in show business. But most of it comes from the doc's gift for capturing the unguarded moment--as when producer David Brown deadpans, "The only orgasm Lew Wasserman ever had in his life was [on] the day we opened Jaws." --Matthew Wilder


VISIONS OF EUROPE
McNally Smith Auditorium, Friday at 7:00 p.m.; and Lagoon Cinema, Monday at 2:45 p.m.

No surprise that this anthology of shorts from each of the European Union's member states is all over the map. Some of the shorts are underdeveloped, like Greece; some are boring, like Germany; and some are grimly depressing, like everything east of Prague. Kidding. Actually, Visions offers an intriguing contrast to the neoliberal anodynes of EU cheerleaders in Davos and Brussels: There's even a Python-esque piece from Peter Greenaway that imagines European nations as flabby, naked burghers enjoying a communal shower while poor, skinny Turkey looks on from the sidelines. --Peter Ritter


THE ISTER
The Bell, Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

This three-hour "videofilm" essay on technology, memory, and history follows the Danube from Romania toward its source in the Black Forest, interspersing its travelogue images with philosophical commentaries by Bernard Stiegler, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, and Jean-Luc Nancy. Their discussions of Martin Heidegger's work and its powerful illumination of recent European history are often fascinating--particularly Lacoue-Labarthe's clear-eyed and critical evaluation of Heidegger's arguments concerning the "essence" of technology. But with all this highfalutin pontificating, it'd be nice to have more than tepid videography to look at. --Derek Nystrom


THE HEART OF JESUS
Lagoon Cinema, Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

Never mind the pregnant metaphor of the title--Bolivian writer-director Marcos Loayza certainly didn't. Jesus Martinez (Augustin Medieta) is a selfish bureaucrat who suffers a heart attack and gets saddled with a monster hospital bill because he didn't notify his insurance provider. When he discovers that there's another Jesus Martinez who's fully insured (and dying of cancer), he takes on that man's identity and settles into the terminal ward. Loayza's bizarre cuts to a guitar player performing on a darkened stage make you want to roll your eyes and mutter, "Meanwhile, back at open-mic night..." --Derek Nystrom


MOVING IN A MIRROR
The Bell, Saturday at 3:00 p.m.

This half-hour doc by Twin Cities-based Joanna Kohler follows Ronni Shendar, a Zionist's daughter who, after the start of the second Intifada, began a progressive pursuit to distribute alternative information about the Israeli occupation and give aid to displaced Palestinians. Kohler's film (recut from a version screened two years ago) may be too short for a life as large as Shendar's, but its focus on the subject's inner conflicts makes it a study of how political struggles are always defined by personal idiosyncrasies. The film screens on a double bill with Vu Tran's "From There to Here" as part of the "Identities in Transition" program.--Molly Priesmeyer


WHITE DIAMOND
The Bell, Saturday at 5:00 p.m.; and Lagoon Cinema, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Werner Herzog (Aguirre, Fitzcarraldo) obviously has a thing for daft white guys who lose their shit in the heart of darkness. His Quixote in this brilliant, hypnotically strange doc is a British aviation engineer determined to build and pilot a small dirigible in order to study the jungle canopy of Guyana; his Sancho Panza is a Rastafarian laborer who dreams of using the blimp to sail across the ocean to his lost family. Like Fitzcarraldo, the film is a parable of obsession and ambition too magical not to be based in truth. --Peter Ritter


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