European Union Film Festival

The third annual European Union Film Festival concludes Friday through Sunday, February 18 through 20, at the Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Admission is $7, $3 for Film Center members. For further information call 312-443-3737.


The Mating Game

A 1999 Greek comedy about three sisters –a fitness instructor, a stockbroker, and an architecture student–each of whom is trying to find the man of her dreams. Olga Malea directed. (6:00)


Based on a 1932 script by Salvador Dali (for a film that was to follow Un chien andalou and L’age d’or), this 1998 Spanish feature by Manuel Cusso-Ferrer is fascinating mostly for its utter failure as both cinema and surrealism. Its minimal plot, in which the title character searches for a woman, unfolds in images that might have seemed provocative in the 30s–a group of men bicycling past a lone piano on a giant plaza, an egg that seems to fry on a man’s shoe–but now seem oddly anachronistic, long since surpassed by our mass culture’s surfeit of weirdness and discontinuity. And while the content aspires to strangeness, the cinematography is comfortably mainstream; the original surrealists may have been attacking bourgeois values, but these elegant yet empty compositions would look very much at home in a coffee-table book. (FC) (8:00)


Bucks and Goats

A fascinating piece of sociology, Hans Heijnen’s 1999 documentary focuses on the 140-year-old rivalry between two brass bands that divides his hometown of Thorn in the Netherlands. In the 1850s an obscure dispute split the church band into two factions, one nicknamed the Bucks (or “Billies” in the film’s subtitles) and the other the Goats. Over the years the rivalry has driven each band to excellence but divided the townspeople; a few profess to be neutral, but most align themselves with one camp or the other, their allegiance apparently influencing what bakery they’ll patronize or whom they’ll marry (it’s said to be “in the genes”). Heijnen gently points out the arbitrary nature of the conflict by bracketing his interviews with long shots of the town, which from afar looks beautifully unified around its old cathedral. (FC) (4:00)

The Last September

Slated to open here commercially later this year, this 1999 British drama by Deborah Warner adapts Elizabeth Bowen’s novel about a daughter of Anglo-Irish aristocrats who falls for a young terrorist. With Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, and Keeley Hawes. (6:00)

Beautiful People

Bosnian-born Jasmin Dizdar directed this 1999 British feature about his war-torn homeland, with four separate narratives that eventually intersect. The film is scheduled for commercial release here this spring; with Charlotte Coleman, Charles Kay, and Rosalind Ayres. (8:00)



See Critic’s Choice. (4:30)


This stylized, vaguely mystical 1997 melodrama by German director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) tracks five residents of a cozy Alpine ski resort as their lives become intertwined during the Christmas season. The characters–two housemates, their boyfriends, and a farmer looking for an errant driver–seem fated to meet, driven by lust, loneliness, jealousy, spite, or cabin fever. Yet Tykwer weighs down the thin story line with coincidences and premonitions, using visual cues to segue from one event to the next when narrative logic fails him. Frank Griebe’s camera creates a sense of delirium as it glides around the actors and through the snowy landscape, but neither the splashy visuals nor a sound track that mixes punchy pop music with neo-medieval chants can gloss over the film’s superficial emotions. (TS) (6:30)