Film Festival

May 01, 2008|By Chris Kaltenbach

The final day of MFF 2008 starts with one of the festival's most delightful traditions, a Sunday-morning silent film with accompaniment by the three-piece Alloy Orchestra. Underworld (11:30 a.m., Charles Theatre 1) is a 1927 gangster flick from Austrian-born Josef von Sternberg, who would go on to achieve his greatest fame as the director-of-choice for Marlene Dietrich. This film, starring George Bancroft (as Bull), Evelyn Brent (as Feathers) and Clive Brook (as Rolls Royce), is filled with the requisite turf battles, conflicting loyalties and two-timing molls that would come to characterize the great Warner Bros. gangster flicks of the '30s, even if the snappy dialogue is -- obviously -- missing.

At 1:30 p.m., Jason Connell's Strictly Background (Charles Theatre 5) follows a handful of film extras as they search for screen immortality a few voiceless seconds at a time. Sounds like the sort of thing that should be required viewing for anyone intent on extra work in My One and Only, the Renee Zellweger flick that begins filming in Baltimore later this month.

At 4 p.m., a program of Around the World Shorts (Charles Theatre 4), including offerings from Japan, the U.K., Australia, Germany, New Zealand and even the U.S., is sure to include something memorable.

Sean Donnelly's I Think We're Alone Now (5:30 p.m., Charles Theatre 3) tracks both fleeting fame and chronic obsession through its look at a pair of fans whose devotion to 1980s-era shopping-mall diva Tiffany knows bounds of neither taste nor propriety.

The festival wraps with a 7:30 p.m. showing of the latest film from the perpetually agitated Melvin van Peebles, whose autobiographical Confessions of a Ex-Doofus-Itchyfooted Mutha (Charles Theatre 1) suggests that the man responsible for the incendiary Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song has plenty of fire left in him.

After 10 years, it's nice to be able to say the same thing about the Maryland Film Festival. Time to start counting down the days until next year's 11th annual cinematic lovefest.

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