Saturday

Film Festival

May 01, 2008|By Michael Sragow

I've found the best way to get in a great mood for the weekend proper is to start out at my Sun colleague Chris Kaltenbach's annual 3-D presentation (11 a.m., Charles Theatre 1). This year, you can savor tremendous dimensional depictions of Rita Hayworth's pulchritude in Miss Sadie Thompson (1953), the third big-screen version of W. Somerset Maugham's story "Miss Thompson" (fourth if you count Dirty Gertie From Harlem). The movie is even more campy fun if you realize that it changes Sadie (Hayworth) from a prostitute to a kid-loving entertainer and her duplicitous antagonist Davidson (Jose Ferrer) from a reverend to an unfrocked hypocrite.

But I may flip a coin because a former colleague, Andrew O'Heir of Salon.com, will be at Charles 2 at the same time, introducing his guest-critic pic, Bamako. It's said to combine protests against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Mali with rousing nightclub extravaganzas and a Sergio Leone-style Western called Death in Timbuktu.

Pals who follow the mini-budgeted "mumblecore" movement have recommended Mary Bronstein's Yeast (1:30 p.m., Charles Theatre 1), featuring Bronstein herself as one of three female friends (including mumblecore-ubiquitous Greta Gerwig) who take an emotionally fraught camping trip.

At midday, documentary fans will run into multiple conflicts. Listening Project (2 p.m., UB Student Center) butts up against Waiting for Hockney (2:30 p.m., MICA Center), and Betrayal/Nerakhoon (4:30 p.m., Charles Theatre 2) against I.O.U.S.A. (5 p.m., Charles 3). Hockney, about a Baltimore artist's obsession to improve on Richard Avedon's Marilyn Monroe portrait with his own graphite rendering of it, and Betrayal, about a Laotian family's traumatic relocation to New York, appear to have more compelling narratives; Listening Project, about the quest of four Americans to find out what foreigners think of us, and I.O.U.S.A., an investigation of America's financial woes, have more topical urgency. I'll probably go from Yeast to Betrayal.

Oscar-winning documentary-maker Alex Gibney returns to the festival with Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (6:30 p.m., Charles Theatre 1). Having experienced the newsroom anxiety the great gonzo provoked as editors waited for him to file at the San Francisco Examiner in the mid-1980s, I'm curious to see what a gifted, savvy filmmaker like Gibney makes of his (in more ways than one) "late" period.

I'm hoping for repeat screenings of the documentaries We Are Wizards (7:30 p.m., Charles Theatre 3), about the Harry Potter creative underground, and American Teen (7:30 p.m., MICA), a depiction of new-millennial high-school life. And I should top off the day with the literary doc Polis is This (9:30 p.m., UB Student Center), a portrait of poet Charles Olson. Sometimes, after hours packed with visual stimulation, a poem is worth a thousand pictures.

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