The Georgia Straight - - Movies -

from pre­vi­ous page and a Bri­tish film that fol­lows a Holo­caust sur­vivor on his Brexit-age trip to the doc­tor are very slightly marred by stylis­tic over­reach. The strong­est pieces are the sim­plest dra­mas. In “Open Your Eyes”, an Is­raeli woman with fail­ing eye­sight has trou­ble spot­ting her own prej­u­dice. In the black-and-white “Gerry”, Joan Collins—all 85 years of her—is qui­etly mag­nif­i­cent as a work­ing-class widow sud­denly forced to con­front lone­li­ness and her hus­band’s hid­den past. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 5 (6 p.m.) and 8 (12 p.m.) KE

LUSH REEDS (China) Af­ter a co­worker com­mits sui­cide, in­tro­verted re­porter Xi­ayin (Huang Lu) faces a num­ber of changes and cut­backs in her news­room. Al­though she tries to pur­sue a story about a wa­ter-poi­son­ing in­ci­dent at an agri­cul­tural vil­lage, her edi­tor dis­cour­ages her. But in­stead of aban­don­ing it or at­tend­ing to her stale mar­riage with her univer­sity pro­fes­sor hus­band, she will­fully takes off to the coun­try­side in pur­suit of an­swers, of­ten putting her­self at risk. Highly ob­ser­vant, with at­ten­tive re­flec­tion given to de­tail, this thought­fully con­structed, at­mo­spheric, and low-key film gives a nu­anced voice (par­tic­u­larly on a metaphor­i­cal level) to con­tem­po­rary so­cial is­sues in China rang­ing from gender and in­tel­lec­tual frus­tra­tions to ur­ban and ru­ral strug­gles. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber (9:30 p.m.) and 6 (4:15 p.m.) CT

MARIA BY CAL­LAS (France) Whether you’re an opera neo­phyte or a well-callased vet­eran, this profile of the orig­i­nal diva is a huge travel trunk of riches. In a com­pan­ion to his spec­tac­u­larly ex­pen­sive cof­fee-ta­ble book, new film­maker Tom Volf weaves to­gether bits of the ir­re­place­able singer’s life and art through footage and stills from myr­iad sources—all shined to a lus­trous dig­i­tal sheen—with nar­ra­tion taken from her let­ters and jour­nals. These are mostly read by Fanny Ar­dant, al­though Maria’s own voice is heard in nu­mer­ous in­ter­views and in ri­otous press con­fer­ences that ri­val those of the Bea­tles or JFK. The di­aris­tic ap­proach pits her serene self-im­age, com­plete with shape-shift­ing class ac­cents, against the re­al­ity of her as a mer­cu­rial hand­ful. Most cru­cially, there are com­plete per­for­mances of her key arias. SFU, Oc­to­ber 11 (1:15 p.m.) KE

ME­MOIR OF WAR (France/bel­gium) The Hollow Crown’s Mélanie Thierry turns in an un­flinch­ing por­trait of Mar­guerite Duras in a film based on her writ­ings about life in Nazi-oc­cu­pied Paris. She was part of a Re­sis­tance group that also in­cluded fu­ture pres­i­dent François Mit­ter­rand, al­though this cen­tres on the absence of her hus­band, cap­tured by the Gestapo, and her am­bigu­ous re­la­tion­ship with a col­lab­o­rat­ing French po­lice de­tec­tive. The hand­somely shot tale per­haps sus­tains its pro­tag­o­nist’s cigaret­tepuff­ing an­guish for too much of its two-hour-plus length. (Her mem­o­ries of the pe­riod were col­lected in a book called La Douleur.) But there’s quite a lot to ad­mire in the se­ri­ous­ness of its tone and the re­al­ism of its re-cre­ated mi­lieu, com­plete with smoke, mir­rors, and ra­tions of all kinds. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 6 (9:30 p.m.) and 8 (3:45 a.m.) KE

MINUTE BOD­IES: THE IN­TI­MATE WORLD OF F. PERCY SMITH (U.K.) Re­mem­ber those 1950s movies in which gi­gan­tic bur­row­ing ants and an­gry taran­tu­las ter­ror­ized a help­less Cold War pop­u­lace? Well, F. Percy Smith turned the tiny lives of bees, tad­poles, and mi­cro­scopic crea­tures into size-large nar­ra­tives al­most a half-cen­tury ear­lier. With macro lenses, time-lapse pho­tog­ra­phy, and al­most un­be­liev­able pa­tience, the ec­cen­tric Brit cat­a­logued the se­cret life of small stuff. In his first di­rect­ing ef­fort, Tin­der­sticks co­founder Stu­art A. Sta­ples ap­plies his own hyp­notic in­stru­men­tal mu­sic to an in­ter­locked se­ries of Smith vi­gnettes, lend­ing greater lyri­cism and so­cial con­text to the fervid pere­gri­na­tions of pro­to­zoans, leaf cells, and the like. Out­side the frame, this pi­o­neer­ing nat­u­ral­ist took aerial pho­to­graphs of land bat­tles dur­ing the First World War and took his own life at the end of the Se­cond. Not that any of this mat­tered to the blue­bot­tle flies he made (slightly) fa­mous. Vancity, Oc­to­ber 10 (3:15 p.m.); Cine­math­eque, Oc­to­ber 12 (9 p.m.) KE

MI­RAI (Ja­pan) An un­usu­ally in­tro­spec­tive anime, Mi­rai homes in on a small­town fam­ily qui­etly en­dur­ing grow­ing pains, start­ing with a grouchy work­ing mom and a stay-at-home ar­chi­tect dad. Well, those pains are not so quiet for four-year-old Kun, ut­terly freaked out by the ar­rival of baby sis­ter Mi­rai. In Ja­panese, that means “fu­ture”, un­der­lined when the more grown-up Mi­rai be­gins to in­fil­trate Kun’s con­scious­ness to show him where his life is headed—if, you know, he doesn’t kill the lit­tle brat first. Their jour­neys through time, their tiny (but well-de­signed) house, and an as­ton­ish­ing Tokyo train sta­tion can be phan­tas­magor­i­cal. But the movie never loses its rare and deeply for­giv­ing in­ti­macy. Play­house, Oc­to­ber 6 (3:30 p.m.) KE

NER­VOUS TRANS­LA­TION (Philip­pines) While her fa­ther is work­ing abroad in Saudi Ara­bia, eight-yearold Yael (Jana Ag­oncillo) spends her days at her home in the Philip­pines cook­ing minia­ture meals with her toy kitchen, do­ing her math home­work, and pluck­ing white hairs from the head of her emo­tion­ally dis­tant mother. Against the back­drop of Filipino politics of the 1980s (con­veyed through news­casts), Yael—of­ten left to her own de­vices—in­ter­prets the go­ings-on of her world in her own way, par­tic­u­larly when she se­cretly lis­tens to the cas­sette record­ings her fa­ther sends to her mother. With stylish, edgy edit­ing and a lack of sen­ti­men­tal­ity, direc­tor Shireen Seno ef­fec­tively con­veys how a child can adapt to the dis­com­fort of un­cer­tainty. Cine­math­eque, Oc­to­ber 9 (6:30 p.m.); Vancity, Oc­to­ber 11 (3:15 p.m.) CT

THE NEW RO­MAN­TIC (Canada) Praise be to a low-bud­get Cana­dian film that man­ages to squeeze Pretty Woman, Hunter Thomp­son, and Jlaw’s fap­pen­ing into its witty script, all while ask­ing “Why does our so­ci­ety hate gold dig­gers?” In pur­suit of an an­swer, Blake (Jes­sica Bar­den) is the am­bi­tious jour­nal­ism stu­dent who writes her­self into a sugar-baby re­la­tion­ship with a hip­ster prof, al­though her real con­nec­tion is with a col­league, Ja­cob (Brett Dier), a lit­tle closer in age, sta­tus, and moral fi­bre. Riverdale’s Camila Men­des and Hay­ley Law also bring their mojo to a small comic gem brimming with spo­ton per­for­mances and sport­ing a se­ri­ous bead on the strug­gles of a gen­er­a­tion su­per­pro­grammed to view ev­ery­thing as a com­mod­ity, body and soul in­cluded. Van­cou­ver na­tive Carly Stone’s fea­ture de­but slayed at SXSW, and rightly so. And when has Sud­bury ever looked this… not aw­ful? Rio, Oc­to­ber 4 (9 p.m.); SFU, Oc­to­ber 6 (4 p.m.) AM

PAT­RI­MONY (Czech Repub­lic) An en­gag­ing cast and funky, off-road Czech lo­ca­tions can’t quite make up for the cloy­ing, bor­der­line-point­less com­edy of Pat­ri­mony, con­cern­ing the search for a pre­vi­ously un­known sib­ling dis­cov­ered by a young Prague woman and her newly wid­owed mother. The no­tions that Mom was a well-liked the­atri­cal cos­tume de­signer and that Dad was a fa­mous mu­si­cian are barely ex­ploited by the story, which also makes the daugh­ter’s own mar­i­tal woes bor­ingly ran­dom. They meet var­i­ous colour­ful char­ac­ters along the way, and ev­ery­thing is played for easy laughs while the gid­dily inspirational mu­sic and Tv-com­mer­cial crane shots of their shiny red car speed­ing through sun­set-dap­pled coun­try­side mainly give you time to think about who will star in the Hol­ly­wood re­make. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 9 (4:15 p.m.) KE

PI­AZZA VIT­TO­RIO (Italy) The maker of un­spar­ing fare like Bad Lieu­tenant and Pa­solini may seem like an un­likely tour guide. But since mov­ing to cen­tral Rome, Abel Fer­rara has be­come a pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cate for one of the Eter­nal City’s largest open spa­ces. It used to be home to a gi­gan­tic pro­duce mar­ket, but is now a run­down cross­roads stop for im­mi­grants strug­gling to get a toe­hold on Ital­ian life. The potty-mouthed New Yorker in­ter­views neigh­bours trou­bled, am­bi­tious, re­signed, and some­times fa­mous (like Pa­solini star Willem Dafoe and his Ital­ian wife), who sketch out a place full of history that is far from over. No idea why he uses the same Woody Guthrie song at least three times, though. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 9 (8:30 p.m.) KE

THE PRICE OF EV­ERY­THING (USA) A thor­oughly en­ter­tain­ing romp through the ab­sur­dity of the sky­rock­et­ing global art mar­ket, The Price of Ev­ery­thing is by turns hi­lar­i­ous and—de­pend­ing on how you feel about Jeff Koons’s bal­loon an­i­mals go­ing for $60 mil—scary. Direc­tor Nathaniel Kahn deftly con­nects all the dots here, jump­ing be­tween artists’ stu­dios (in­clud­ing Koons’s paint-bynum­bers fac­tory), auc­tion houses (now “trad­ing houses for as­sets”), and pri­vate col­lec­tors’ pent­houses—the only place to see some of our cen­tury’s great­est art­works. The pace may be breezy, but Kahn digs into im­pli­ca­tions, speak­ing to artists like Njideka Akun­y­ili Crosby, who will never see a frac­tion of what’s paid when their work is flipped like Van­cou­ver real es­tate, and search­ing out hi­lar­i­ously gruff painter Larry Poons, an oc­to­ge­nar­ian, once-hot ab­strac­tion­ist who now toils away in his iso­lated barn, far away from mar­ket de­mands. Un­til a New York gallery comes calling… SFU, Oc­to­ber 12 (6:30 p.m.) JS

PROFILE (USA) Young Brit jour­nal­ist Amy poses as a newly con­verted Mus­lim in Timur Bek­mam­be­tov’s film, which dares to tell its en­tire story on a desk­top. The gam­ble works, cre­at­ing ten­sion and a sick­en­ing ur­gency out of Amy’s re­al­time Skype chats with the ISIS re­cruiter and pos­si­ble hu­man traf­ficker Bilel, covertly mon­i­tored by an edi­tor, an IT guy, and a boyfriend, who all throw their own pan­icky curve­balls into the ac­tion. Va­lene Kane car­ries the movie, es­pe­cially when Amy be­gins to fall, ap­par­ently, for the sexy ex­trem­ist. Sadly, in the spirit of its dodgy source ma­te­rial (Anna Erelle’s In the Skin of a Ji­hadist), the film ends up float­ing BBC me­dia types as the moral author­ity in the kind of false nar­ra­tive gen­er­ally pimped by BBC me­dia types. The Twit­terati will prob­a­bly mis­take all this for sub­ver­sive, and for­mally per­haps it is. In essence, how­ever, Profile is no less re­ac­tionary, lazy, or smug than The Post or an Adam Cur­tis doc. Do bet­ter, film­mak­ers. Rio, Oc­to­ber 7 (1:15 p.m.) and 12 (8:45 p.m.) AM

THE RE­PORTS ON SARAH AND SALEEM (Pales­tine/nether­lands/ger­many/mex­ico) A Pales­tinian man and an Is­raeli woman cross class and eth­nic

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bar­ri­ers to have an af­fair in Jerusalem. When an ill-ad­vised drink in Beth­le­hem ends in a bar fight, Saleem finds him­self in the cross hairs first of Pales­tinian in­tel­li­gence, and then of the Is­raeli po­lice. With truth as an in­con­ve­nience to both sides, chess moves place the lovers in an im­pos­si­ble sit­u­a­tion, not least of all be­cause—uh oh!—her hus­band is an am­bi­tious Is­raeli colonel. Do­mes­tic lies and po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­en­cies feed off each other in this grip­ping drama, while its moral com­plex­i­ties end in quag­mire, and no­body comes out look­ing very good ex­cept for the hot cast. No­tice, how­ever, that it takes three women and a baby to at least raise the faint hope of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 7 (8:30 p.m.) and 11 (4:30 p.m.) AM

SCI­ENCE FAIR (USA) Na­tional Geo­graphic mag­a­zine turns 130 years old this month. And in all that time it has re­mained scrupu­lously apo­lit­i­cal. Un­til now. The hys­ter­i­cally an­ti­science bent of in­dus­try crooks now in charge of most U.S. agen­cies has forced the Nat Geo to re­mind peo­ple that brains are not only good, they’re nec­es­sary! This per­fectly edited doc fol­lows eth­ni­cally and fi­nan­cially di­verse kids from wildly dis­parate parts of the U.S., Brazil, and Ger­many as they con­verge on the epony­mous in­ter­na­tional event, held every year since 1942. Not ev­ery­one’s a win­ner, baby, but it’s sheer plea­sure to meet so many young peo­ple—and even more cru­cially, their teach­ers—who ded­i­cate their knowl­edge to im­prov­ing life for the whole planet. Don’t miss it! In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 5 (6:15 a.m.) KE

THE SEEN AND UN­SEEN (In­done­sia/ Nether­lands/aus­tralia/qatar) When 10-year-old Tantri’s twin brother, Tantra (Ida Ba­gus Putu Ra­dithya Mahi­jasena), is hos­pi­tal­ized for a brain tu­mour that threat­ens him with the pro­gres­sive loss of each of his senses, Tantri (Ni Kadek Thaly Titi Kasih) in­creas­ingly strains to re­main con­nected to him. But she does so through sur­real means, in noc­tur­nal, word­less, move­ment-based vi­gnettes. With strik­ing im­agery and ob­ser­vant cin­e­matog­ra­phy, direc­tor Kamila An­dini’s vis­ual sto­ry­telling in­te­grates an ad­mirable, effortless artistry steeped in Ba­li­nese dance, pup­petry, and theatre in nat­u­ral and sub­lime ways. An aes­thetic and in­tel­lec­tual plea­sure to watch. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 10 (6:30 p.m.); Vancity, Oc­to­ber 11 (1 p.m.) CT

SHÉHÉRAZADE (France) One hes­i­tates to de­scribe as charm­ing a film that in­cludes un­der­age sex work­ers, gang rape, and re­venge shoot­ings—but I guess Shéhérazade breaks the mould. Set in the seed­ier end of Mar­seilles, its dar­ing stride is de­fined in an early scene: it starts with Zach track­ing and then threat­en­ing Shéhérazade when she hoofs it with the chunk of hash he’s of­fered in ex­change for sex, and it ends with the two of them glee­fully steal­ing some items to­gether from a sport­ing-goods store. Dy­lan Robert and Kenza For­tas are tremen­dously en­dear­ing as these two an­gels with dirty faces, both guilty of lit­tle more than be­ing un­wanted by their fam­i­lies. Once bonded, Zach takes on the role of pimp to Shéhérazade, and things go hor­ri­bly wrong, while a dec­la­ra­tion of love at the most pre­car­i­ous pos­si­ble moment finally puts the seal on a hard-boiled movie with the soft­est of hearts. But be warned, Van­cou­ver: HE DOESN’T WEAR A BIKE HEL­MET. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 5 (9 p.m.) AM

of dy­ing refugees.

SI­CIL­IAN GHOST STORY (Italy) It’s slightly at­ten­u­ated at a per­haps overly dreamy two hours. But this mod­ern­day Romeo and Juliet tale, based on re­cent events and em­bel­lished with near-mag­i­cal moviemak­ing skill, earns its keep by car­ing so much about the in­no­cent hu­man be­ings caught up in re­lent­less Mafia vendet­tas. Thir­teenyear-old Giuseppe is the high-school cool kid un­til his dad agrees to tes­tify against Si­cil­ian mob­sters. When he’s kid­napped in or­der to si­lence the old man, al­most-girl­friend Luna is the only class­mate who keeps query­ing where he’s gone. Good thing she’s as kick-ass as any Chloë Grace Moretz char­ac­ter, be­cause what she’s up against is dis­turbingly dark and murky, but also fa­ble­like in its youth­ful cer­tain­ties. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 8 (11:15 a.m.) KE

THE SI­LENCE OF OTH­ERS (Spain/ USA) The unar­tic­u­lated ques­tion un­der­lin­ing this pow­er­ful, ex­cep­tion­ally wellassem­bled doc: why do west­ern lib­eral “democ­ra­cies” so read­ily for­give fas­cism? In Spain, where Gen. Franco’s thugs walk freely or even cling to pub­lic of­fice, a move­ment gath­ers steam to re­scind an in­sane “pact of for­get­ting” en­shrined by law, trig­ger­ing con­de­scend­ing piety from the gov­ern­ment, pre­dictably, but also the at­ten­tion of the in­ter­na­tional court. The sto­ries we hear in Si­lence from the vic­tims of the Franco regime are stom­ach­turn­ing, though it’s el­derly María Martín who car­ries the great­est sym­bolic weight, her dam­aged vo­cal cords fail­ing to break an ur­gent whis­per as she de­scribes the rape and mur­der of her mother. The larger bat­tle is for ar­rests, truth and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, and the teach­ing of Spain’s fas­cist history in schools. All she wants is to re­lo­cate her mother’s body from a mass grave be­neath a high­way. Don’t miss this one. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 4 (1:45 p.m.); Cine­math­eque, Oc­to­ber 6 (6:30 p.m.) AM

STU­DIO 54 (USA) Film­maker Matt Tyr­nauer has paved a fas­ci­nat­ing doc­u­men­tary trail, with thought­ful pro­files of the de­signer Valentino, ur­ban-plan­ning critic Jane Ja­cobs, and, most re­cently, a ge­nial Bev­erly Hills pimp in Scotty and the Se­cret History of Hol­ly­wood. Here, he takes on fa­mil­iar ma­te­rial—the rise and fall of New York City’s most glittering disco palace, and of its flam­boy­ant fig­ure­head, Steve Rubell—and finds new twists to the story. These come mainly through the new­found will­ing­ness of Ian Schrager, Rubell’s sur­viv­ing and more re­cal­ci­trant part­ner, to cough up the good stuff. The footage is great, and this well-con­structed doc makes the case that the club own­ers’ fool­ish­ness with drugs, money, and taxes was matched by cultural ho­mo­pho­bia and au­to­cratic vendet­tas. Play­house, Oc­to­ber 5 (9:30 p.m.); SFU, Oc­to­ber 12 (4 p.m.) KE

STYX (Ger­many/aus­tria) There isn’t a sin­gle su­per­flu­ous moment in Wolf­gang Fis­cher’s near-silent thriller, in which su­per­com­pe­tent para­medic Rike (Su­sanne Wolff) em­barks on a solo At­lantic sail­ing trip to As­cen­sion Is­land, only to bump into a sink­ing trawler full of des­per­ate refugees. De­fy­ing the coast guard’s in­struc­tions to es­sen­tially let them die, she ends up with a dan­ger­ously un­pre­dictable stow­away on her Teu­ton­i­cally main­tained and equipped ves­sel. So yes, the mes­sage about mur­der­ous west­ern in­dif­fer­ence to its own vic­tims is loud and clear. But with such ef­fec­tive, pre­cise per­for­mances on both sides of the cam­era—mak­ing ten­sion a con­stant in the chang­ing in­flec­tion of phys­i­cal and moral jeop­ardy—styx emerges as one of the fest’s best. Play­house, Oc­to­ber 6 (12:45 p.m.)


TEEN PER­SPEC­TIVES (In­ter­na­tional) Eight tales guar­an­teed to make you glad you’re not young any­more, these Per­spec­tives are dom­i­nated by Aus­tralian and other Com­mon­wealth takes on body im­age, gender stereo­types, class (un)con­scious­ness, and self-de­struc­tive ten­den­cies. Most are for­giv­ingly lyri­cal, and all are well-acted, apart from one heart-lift­ing doc that cap­tures the real-life re­la­tion­ship be­tween a Scot­tish mo­tor­bike racer and her über­sup­port­ive dad. The set’s high­light is the beau­ti­fully self-as­sured “Skates”, which limns an Aussie courtship on wheels at an oth­er­wise grim small-town roller rink in a per­fectly dressed 1979. Direc­tor Maddelin Mckenna and her mostly fe­male crew are ob­vi­ous tal­ents to watch. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 4 (11 a.m.) and 7 (6 p.m.) KE

THE THIRD WIFE (Viet­nam) Sump­tu­ous, sen­su­ous vi­su­als play off dev­as­tat­ing re­pres­sion in 19th-cen­tury ru­ral Viet­nam in this stun­ning first fea­ture from Ash May­fair. As a rich landowner’s third wife, May (Nguyen Phuong Tra My) lives in an at­mo­spheric world of lantern-lit trysts and lush trop­i­cal fields. Life and death cy­cle con­stantly on the es­tate, shown most evoca­tively in the re­peated images of silk­worms at work. At first, May enjoys her priv­i­leges, with ser­vants al­ways at hand, and quickly be­comes preg­nant. But as tragedy rip­ples through the farm, she starts to see her true role, as prop­erty and baby­maker, a woman dis­cov­er­ing her lack of agency at the same time that she’s find­ing her iden­tity. It’s as beau­ti­ful as it is com­plex—an ac­com­plish­ment that will re­mind you of early Zhang Yi­mou and Tran Anh Hung. If they were women, of course. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 9 (2 p.m.); SFU, Oc­to­ber 11 (9 p.m.) JS

VAR­I­OUS PO­SI­TIONS (Canada) Most of the po­si­tions de­picted here lean to­ward the prone. You have to want the sus­tained feel­ing of med­i­ta­tive tor­por that hangs over these Cana­dian shorts, but they are re­ward­ing. Some feel like tal­ent in search of a story. Slight tales of a church-clean­ing group, a woman cy­cling through Toronto’s sum­mer streets, and a field recordist cap­tur­ing creak­ing sounds don’t quite pay off, but are sooth­ingly well-shot. A brief look at Van­cou­ver’s Ge­or­gia Viaduct is far more opaque than the cat­a­logue sug­gests, and one about a mid­dle-aged run­ner is ac­tu­ally tan­gen­tially re­lated stills and footage held to­gether by ab­struse ti­tles. The most com­plete items cap­ture a girl’s am­biva­lence at com­pet­i­tive ice-skat­ing in 1994 Is­tan­bul, a Bri­tish woman’s pub­lic-bath­room stand­off with a strange man, and a young Cana­dian’s search for a fe­male vi­o­lin­ist who loomed large in her un­cle’s mu­si­cal life. That last one, called “Veslemøy’s Song”, is the lat­est sub­tle win­ner from Mai­son du Bon­heur’s Sofia Bo­hdanow­icz, who turns open­hearted (and open-ended) ten­ta­tive­ness into a sur­pris­ingly sturdy kind of soul-search­ing mis­sion state­ment. In­ter­na­tional Vil­lage, Oc­to­ber 3 (9:15 p.m.) and 10 (3:30 p.m.) KE

VOL­CANO (Ukraine/ger­many/monaco) What could be a po­lit­i­cal thriller built around the night­mare of kid­nap­ping and un­der­ground civil war is in­stead a more darkly com­i­cal, at times al­most med­i­ta­tive study of so­ci­ety in un­nerv­ingly vague tran­si­tion. New­comer Ser­hiy Stepan­sky, pre­vi­ously a sound tech­ni­cian on Ukrainian movies, plays an ur­bane UN worker on an un­de­fined ru­ral as­sign­ment when he loses his way in a vast hin­ter­land filled with aban­doned projects, wan­der­ing mer­ce­nar­ies, and main-chancers just try­ing to keep their heads above wa­ter. That last part is lit­eral, as the movie’s ti­tle is a lo­cal nick­name for a re­gion re­cently wiped out when dam wa­ters were re­leased. The charm of the movie, which re­calls east­ern Euro­pean pi­caresques like The Saragossa Man­u­script, is that its ini­tially ar­ro­gant pro­tag­o­nist is never sure if he’s

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