The second annual Movieside Film Festival runs Saturday and Sunday, December 13 and 14, at the Biograph. Tickets are $10; for more information call 773-856-5220.


Down by Law

Jim Jarmusch directed this 1986 comedy about three small-time cons (John Lurie, Tom Waits, Roberto Benigni) who bust out of jail only to find that life isn’t any more interesting outside than in. There are a few good absurdist laughs, and Robby Muller’s slick black-and-white cinematography affords some scuzzily noirish moments, but once the deadbeat trio get thrown into their cell the film comes virtually to a halt: it’s minimalism reinforcing minimalism, with none of the subtle counterpoint between movement and stasis that gave Stranger Than Paradise its small charge. Even Muller seems defeated by the formal enervation; his rich, textured images are an incongruous match with so much aimless, entropic winding down. 106 min. (Pat Graham) Also on the program: Jarmusch’s short Int. Trailer. Night and music by Joan of Arc. (6:00)

Jim Jarmusch’s Favorite Short Films

Eight short films: Orlando Jiminex Leal and Saba Cabrera’s P.M. (1962); William S. Burroughs and Anthony Balch’s Towers Open Fire (1963); Carl Theodor Dreyer’s They Caught the Ferry (1948); Max Fleischer’s Betty Boop cartoon Bimbo’s Initiation (1930); Sara Driver’s The Bowery (1994); Jem Cohen’s Little Flags (2000); Hype Williams’s music video for Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Got Your Money (1999); and Buster Keaton’s The High Sign (1920). 87 min. (8:00)

Jim Jarmusch appearance

The director will be interviewed by Reader film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum and then take questions from the audience. (9:30)


Melvin Goes to Dinner

See Critic’s Choice. (5:00)

Unseen Videos From the Underground

Music videos for Fugazi, Sleater-Kinney, Elliott Smith, Black Heart Procession, Peaches, Solex, U.S. Maple, Guitar Wolf, the Makers, the Locust, Melt Banana, Julie Ruin, Holy Ghosts, the Flying Luttenbachers, Tusk, Bloodhag, Bobby Conn, and others. Also on the program: live music by Diane Izzo. (6:30)

Short Films From Around the World

A mixed bag of short films and videos, ranging from work by Samuel Beckett to Eric Fensler’s ubiquitous series of dubbed GI Joe cartoons. The haunting Film (1965), directed by Alan Schneider, casts 68-year-old Buster Keaton in a Beckett script about a man hiding his face from the camera and the world; Keaton was the filmmakers’ fourth choice for the role (after Chaplin, Zero Mostel, and Jack MacGowran), but his artful pantomime is the best thing the film has going for it. Most of the gems on the program are animation: in Blister Freak Circus Presents 4 Films in 5 Minutes, Skizz P. Cyzyk uses hand-drawn and cutout vignettes to illustrate songs by the band Blister Freak Circus; in Usama Alshaibi’s Allahu Akbar dazzling white-on-black mandalas spin to various Hindi pop tunes; and in Eva Honegger’s No Place Like Home two hand-drawn American tourists sit oblivious in their sealed train car as cutouts of European landmarks outside the window sail past them. But nothing made me laugh like Bob Odenkirk’s Bread Winnerz, in which suburban dads serenade their kids with an ersatz Limp Bizkit tune called “My House, My Rulez.” (JJ) Also on the program: live performances by Kit Kat Honeys, Environmental Encroachment, Chic-a-Go-Go, and the Audreys. (8:00)