Parting Shots

The Man Who Laughs This effective 1927 piece of macabre Gothic, made by the brilliant director and set designer Paul Leni, is a beauty-and-the-beast tale based on Victor Hugo. Set in 17th-century England, it concerns a blind girl and a rebel peer's son (Conrad Veidt,Dr. Caligari'ssomnambulist) whose face has been mutated into a permanent hideous grin at the orders of the king. This special presentation will be accompanied by a lush new score composed by Gabriel Thibaudeau and performed by the Octuor de France. October 8, at the Walter Reade Theater. (ES)

Holy Smoke Not since Woman Under the Influenceor Warhol's Blue Movie has there been a heterosexual mano-a-mano like this one between Kate Winslet as a novice member of a mystical cult and Harvey Keitel as a sleazebag deprogrammer. Pondering the connection between sex and spirituality and the terrifying possibility of love, Jane Campion mixes Bollywood extravaganza, outback surrealism, and crawl-in-the-mud Actor's Studio naturalism to cosmically hilarious and heart-wrenching effect. A Miramax release. October 8 and 9. (AT)

Felicia's Journey The festival ends on a down note with Atom Egoyan's fusty follow-up to The Sweet Hereafter. Fate, editing, and the implacable past contrive to involve an innocently lovely-if glazed-Irish colleen (Elaine Cassidy) and an obnoxious psychopath (Bob Hoskins). Less creepy than oppressive, the movie is tiresome even in its revelations. Artisan plans a November release. October 10, at Avery Fisher Hall. (JH)

Horse latitudes: License To Live
photo courtesy of the 37th New York Film Festival
Horse latitudes: License To Live

Short Films Once upon a time Robert Breer's ultrakinetic Fistfighthad NYFF viewers on their feet throwing punches at one another. Today, Breer leaves aggression to the Hollywood boys, which is why his delicate memory piece, Time Flies (playing with Rien sur Robert), is no less a countercurrent to the millennial tide. Breer's subject-how images and sounds live in the mind's eye and ear-and his handcrafted 16mm animation have always been in perfect sync. In his latest tour de force, snapshots, drawings, and bits of film from a lifetime of art-making and domesticity dance across the screen. It's not a summation (that's not Breer's style), more of a backward glance before moving forward again.

If none of the other short films are in a class with Breer's, Laurence Attali's lively Even the Wind (in which a French female saxophone player and an African male cabdriver chatter nonstop as they drive through Senegal) and Jean-Marie Straub's old warhorse Machorka-Muff are very fine indeed. (AT)

Unavailable for screening: The Carriers Are Waiting; The Woman Chaser; Mobutu, King of Zaire

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