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[whitespace] Still Reeling

Cinequest winds to a close

Mercy (U.S.): "Have mercy" is what audiences are likely to scream when they see this muddled thriller. A tired-looking Ellen Barkin plays a cop investigating some gruesome sex murders; her sleuthing leads her into the world of fashion-model lesbianism and very kinky B&D. Barkin wades thigh-high through a sea of red herrings leading to--of all people--Julian Sands as a cross-dressing psychiatrist. At last, a movie that 8mm can look down on. (Michael S. Gant)

Plays March 2 at 7:15pm; March 3 at 7:30pm; and March 5 at 5pm--all at the AMC Saratoga.

The Mutants (Portugal-France; Portuguese with subtitles; 113 min.): Troubled Lisbon runaway teens are the title characters. Unlike American comic-book heroes, these mutants lack any superpowers beyond flights into fancy; they scrabble a half-life in the streets, orphanages and jails. To its credit, The Mutants maintains a consistent tone: gloomy. (Don Hines)

Plays March 4 at 3pm at the AMC Saratoga.

No Trains No Planes (Netherlands; 103 min.): The opening sequence of Jos Stelling's comedy/drama takes place in an unnamed city in the Netherlands as pedestrians step on each others' heels and bash into each other accidentally. This brusque slapstick sets the mood for the film, which is mostly staged in the worst-run cafe in Holland, where a sadsack named Gerard (Dirk Van Dijck) is trying, desperately, to court the mean but sexy Paula (Ellen Ten Damme). When it turns out that Gerard is the brother of a well-known singer, the down-at-the-heels man becomes a sudden celebrity. It's depressing when the film takes a turn into Eugene O'Neill-style barroom pathos after displaying such a vital, grubby sense of humor. (Richard von Busack)

Plays March 4 at 7:45pm at the AMC Saratoga.

Ordinary Madness (U.S.; 94 min.): Good pacing and technique distinguish this debut by producers (and ex-San Joseans) Paula Keane and James J. Smythe. The story involves a knot of disaffected Angelenos, including a moody woman (Denise Gentile), her husband and a young drifter. The film is most interesting as a character tale of lonely souls, but the framing plot about a murder lost me from the beginning. (RvB)

March 3 at 1pm at the Towne and March 5 at noon at the AMC Saratoga.

A Reasonable Man (South Africa; 103 min.): Sean and Jennifer (Gavin Hood and Janine Eser), a white South African couple, return home after nine years away from their troubled country. While camping in Zululand, the couple encounters the aftermath of a brutal crime: Sipho (Loyiso Gxwala), a Zulu herdsman, has killed a 1-year-old child with a hatchet. Sipho maintains that he killed an evil spirit; convinced of extenuating circumstances in the case, Sean, who is a lawyer, defends Sipho. This intelligent film expands a courtroom drama into a provocative exploration of how a multicultural society struggles to deal with racism and conflicting religious beliefs. (Heather Zimmerman)

Plays March 2 at 2:30pm and March 4 at 10:15am at the AMC Saratoga.

Saturday Night (Australia; 90 min.): A terminally overwrought two-person Australian drama about the all-night conversation between a suicide-prevention counselor named Simone (Alison Whyte) and a despondent caller (Aaron Pedersen). It's a slow-speed chase to the usual destination--the unveiling of both characters' hidden problems--but first you have to see Pedersen sobbing the night away and drunkenly roaring out his anger at women. (RvB)

Plays March 3 at 3pm at the AMC Saratoga.

S.O.S. (Norway; 90 min.): Angelo (Gianmarco Tognazzi) is a Lothario who uses personal ads to enjoy short-term sexual liaisons, which he videotapes and ranks statistically. He meets Alba (Jacqueline Lustig), who literally employs a ball and chain to ensure his commitment to their relationship. Angelo and Alba are dangerously close to the near-caricatures found in Bertrand (Going Places) Blier's films, but the erotic affection of the stars allow us to forgive the film's overstated dialog between freedom and fidelity. (DH)

Plays March 3 at 3pm at the AMC Saratoga.

Cinequest runs through March 5 at the Camera Cinemas, Second and San Carlos streets, San Jose; the Towne Theater, 1433 The Alameda, San Jose; and the AMC Saratoga, Saratoga Avenue and Prospect Road. Individual screenings are $7 students/$8 general. Call 408.295.FEST for ticket information. (Full Disclosure: Metro is one of the executive sponsors of the festival.)

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From the March 2-8, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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