The 16th European Union Film Festival continues through Thursday, March 28, at Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800. Tickets are $11, $7 for students, and $6 for Film Center members. Following are selected films screening through Thursday, March 21; for a compete schedule see siskelfilmcenter.org.
4Some This low-key sex farce may be a minor effort for director Jan Hrebejk (Up and Down, Beauty in Trouble), but it still advances his generous worldview. As usual he fashions a knowing portrait of the Czech bourgeoisie that’s neither complacent nor mean-spirited, and the characters seem real enough that you can imagine them existing outside the plot. The movie depicts two long-married suburban couples, all of them close friends, who decide to experiment with group sex; to everyone’s surprise, it works out just fine. Sincerely and affably, Hrebejk asserts that normal life doesn’t have to be dull and that sex is good for you. The original Czech title translates as “The Holy Quaternity.” In Czech with subtitles. —Ben Sachs 75 min. Sun 3/17, 7:30 PM, and Wed 3/20, 6 PM.
In the Fog Set in Belarus during the Nazi occupation, this bleak 2012 drama follows a small-town railway worker, suspected of collaborating with the Germans, as he tries to escape to another part of the country. Director Sergei Loznitsa (My Joy) often employs dreamy, intricately choreographed long takes reminiscent of Russian filmmakers Andrei Tarkovsky, Aleksei Guerman, and Aleksandr Sokurov, and like them he maintains a heightened sense of the present moment while deliberately blurring the story’s historical context. If you admire any of those directors, you’ll probably appreciate this, though you may also experience a feeling of deja vu. The movie was shot by Oleg Mutu, the brilliant cinematographer of The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days; his stunning landscape photography demands to be seen on a big screen. In Russian with subtitles. —Ben Sachs 123 min. Sat 3/16, 3:45 PM, and Wed 3/20, 7:45 PM.
Madrid, 1987 A self-important newspaper columnist (José Sacristán) attempts to seduce a naive young writing student (Maria Valverde) and ends up locked in a bathroom with her overnight. David Trueba, who wrote and directed this cerebral Spanish drama (2011), keeps the conversation fluid despite the cramped setting, and he achieves some moments of genuine eroticism. His lead characters are fully realized, if never exactly likable; the film offers some solid insights into Spanish history and the writing process, but you might not feel like putting up with these people in order to hear them. In Spanish with subtitles. —Ben Sachs 108 min. Sun 3/17, 5:15 PM, and Tue 3/19, 6 PM.
My Worst Nightmare Isabelle Huppert may be approaching self-parody as an icon of Gallic frigidity, yet the talented writer-director Anne Fontaine puts that to excellent use in this broad, obvious, but consistently funny bedroom farce. A haughty gallery owner (Huppert) clashes instantly with the vulgar workman (Benoit Poelvoorde) who is the single father of her son’s favorite schoolmate; her elderly husband (Andre Dussollier) invites the man to stay with them as he remodels part of their house, and you can take it from there. Fontaine is one of the few current French directors capable of pulling off both heavy drama (How I Killed My Father, Entre Ses Mains) and rowdy comedy (The Girl From Monaco). Nicolas Mercier cowrote the script. In French with subtitles. —J.R. Jones Sat 3/16, 8:15 PM, and Mon 3/18, 6 PM.
Paradise: Faith Even at his most thematically reductive, Ulrich Seidl exhibits one of the richest pictorial sensibilities in contemporary movies. In this second film (2012) of his “Paradise” trilogy, his subject is a fanatical Catholic woman (Seidl regular Maria Hofstätter, throwing herself into the part) who imposes her beliefs on everyone she encounters, going so far as to show up at strangers’ homes offering unwanted moral council. There’s nothing remotely subtle about this religious caricature—she’s practically introduced flagellating herself naked in front of a crucifix—yet Seidl seems interested not in shock value but in something more ambiguous and rarefied. Working with master cinematographers Wolfgang Thaler and Ed Lachman, he evokes Renaissance-era painting through near-symmetrical compositions and carefully modulated lighting; the images are too beautiful to register as merely ironic. In German with subtitles. —Ben Sachs 109 min. Sun 3/17, 5:15 PM, and Thu 3/21, 8:15 PM.
You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet Alain Resnais reflects on some lifelong themes—the presence of history in contemporary life and the ability of art to remove us from time—and though this drama is characteristically eerie, it also conveys a calm that’s rare in his work. Actors gather at the home of a recently deceased theater director who led them through productions of Jean Anouil’s 1941 play Eurydice; his strange final request is that they watch a new production filmed by a young theater troupe, and as the movie screens, it casts a spell on the actors, making them spontaneously re-create their old performances. Resnais shows how great art connects people to the infinite, not only through his brilliant manipulation of space (the setting seems to expand and contract at different points) but also through rhymes in the dialogue that suggest the ancient story of Eurydice will echo into eternity. In French with subtitles. —Ben Sachs 110 min. Sun 3/17, 3 PM, and Thu 3/21, 6 PM.