The 15th annual Asian American Showcase, presented by the Foundation for Asian American Independent Media and the Gene Siskel Film Center, continues Fri-Thu 4/9-4/15, with screenings at the Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800. Tickets are $10, $7 for students, and $5 for Film Center members. Following are selected films screening this week; for a complete schedule visit siskelfilmcenter.org.
Mr. Sadman Scarred by a knife-wielding attacker, a body double for Saddam Hussein loses his job on the eve of the gulf war and, for reasons unexplained, flies to Los Angeles, where he’s adopted as a mascot by kindly strangers and abused as a freak by unkindly ones. This silent soul (played by Al No’mani) gets exposed to Western pop culture and tries on various personas (Bruce Lee, Prince, and Travis Bickle of Taxi Driver). Frat boys get him high and strand him at an orgy, gangbangers mug him for his shoes, and two federal agents named Wang and Johnson bungle their attempts to find and detain him. The story may sound funny on paper, but this indie comedy by writer-director Patrick Epino is tonally scrambled, wearyingly episodic, and far too dependent on its central sight gag. 85 min. —Cliff Doerksen Fri 4/9, 8:30 PM.
Raspberry Magic This doesn’t deserve a raspberry, but it’s not exactly magic either. Written and directed by Leena Pendharkar, it’s a pat and formulaic coming-of-age story about an Indian-American girl (Lily Javaherpour) trying to roll with the changes as her father loses his job and, fed up with his wife’s nagging, moves out of the house. At school the girl hopes to win a science fair competition with a project in which she uses touch therapy to stimulate the raspberry plants that will no longer bloom in the family’s backyard. One critic has likened this to the ABC Afterschool Special anthology series, which seems apt; like so many of those children’s dramas, it’s well-meaning and serious-minded, but the characters and issues are carefully contained, as if to fit in a lunch box. 82 min. —J.R. Jones Thu 4/15, 8:15 PM.