Sat., Oct. 16, 2:25pm + Mon., Oct. 18, 7:30pm, R5.
If I Want to Whistle, I’ll Whistle: B
The Romanian New Wave continues to spit out interesting work with Florin Serban’s juvie drama. Tough yet sensitive, just like the title, delinquent Silviu (newbie George Pistereanu) explodes with five days left in his stint after his vagrant mother announces she’s absconding with his young brother to Italy. Serban’s plotting can be as reckless as his protagonist, but the film is held together by Pistereanu’s quiet intensity.
Sun., Oct. 17, 7:45pm, R5.
Kings of Pastry: B-
Direct cinema legend D.A. Pennebaker (Don’t Look Back, a thousand others) hasn’t had a directorial credit in ages, and it’s a little tough to glean why a competition doc about people who work in sugar brought him back. Made with wife/co-conspirator Chris Hegedus, the film trails the “Best Craftsman in France” pastry-off, which is either an honor to win or a pointless waste of time and energy, depending on the chef. Mostly, the cameras stare at the painstaking craft of pastry-making, including “bijous,” sugar structures that can (and do) fall apart at the slightest shock. As food porn goes, this is a step above the Food Network, but just a step.
Sat., Oct. 16, 7pm, IH.
Kristin Scott Thomas is awesome. Her welcome re-entry into the mainstream continues with another film in France, this time as the trophy wife to a cold bastard (Yvan Attal). After taking up with a burly handyman (Sergei Lopez), she keeps it a secret for a record short amount of time; the ensuing consequences strip her down to near-feral. She’s so taken with her doughy lover that she’s eventually not above asking strangers for money when hers runs out. The usually thrilling Lopez (Pan’s Labyrinth) is mysteriously bland, perhaps knowing this is his co-star’s show.
Fri., Oct. 15, 7:30pm, R5 + Sun., Oct. 17, 2:20pm, R5.
Lebanon, Pa.: B
Visiting the rural Pennsylvania town in which his estranged father has just died, a Philly ad man (Josh Hopkins) starts a fling with a married woman (Samantha Mathis, surprisingly credible). Meanwhile, his Drexel-bound teen cousin C.J. (Rachel Kitson) finds her plans waylaid by an unwanted pregnancy. Working off James Carville’s axiom that Pennsylvania is “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in the middle,” Ben Hickernell’s follow-up to Cellar limns our culture clash without pandering to either side, while his handling of abortion neither simplifies nor chickens out.
Fri., Oct. 15, 5pm, PMT.
Machete Maidens Unleashed: B
Having covered Aussie exploitation with Not Quite Hollywood, documentarian Mark Hartley turns to the Filipino grindhouse scene of the ’70s and ’80s, revealing how penny-pinching filmatists—mostly Roger Corman, natch—headed across the Pacific to take advantage of cheap prices, willing stuntmen and a brutal dictatorship that would loan you helicopters if they weren’t off bombing revolutionaries. The offerings aren’t as varied, or as rich, as in Hollywood—it’s 80 percent grade-Z slime, with guys in rubber masks raping virgins—but a sludgy blast nonetheless.
Fri., Oct. 15, 9:45pm, IH.
The Man Next Door: B-
Imagine Michael Haneke’s (occasionally literal) eviscerations of the petty bourgeoisie as a neighbor-from-hell comedy and you get something like this Argentinian import. Leonardo (Rafael Spregelburd), a creator of overpriced furniture, gets into a petty squabble with his neighbor, the ornery Victor (Daniel Aráoz). Victor’s a louse, overbearing, slimy and dense. But Leonardo’s a rich prick whose wife won’t fuck him, whose daughter ignores him and who listens excitedly to douchey avant-garde music. Directors Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat seem uncomfortable making a genre comedy, and their film stalls in the bottom half. Still, they have a strong visual sense, with most scenes knocked out in one ideally placed shot.
Sat., Oct. 16, 2:30pm, R5 + Sun., Oct. 17, 10:05pm, R5.
Those seeking sexy dirt in a doc on Jeanette Maier, madam of the late, well-patroned Canal Street brothel, take note. The brunt of Cameron Yates’ doc isn’t the scandal, but its less-skeezy aftermath—what becomes of the news sensation once the sensation ends?
Neil Barsky’s "Koch" Keeps It Light