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The Three Rivers Film Festival

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The 22nd annual Three Rivers Film Festival, presented by Pittsburgh Filmmakers, continues through Nov. 23. Tickets for most films are $6 each; exceptions are tickets for the closing night event with filmmaker Stephanie Beroes ($10); Text of Light, with live music ($15); and the Shorts Programs, which are $4 each. Films screen at the Harris Theater, Downtown; the Melwood Screening Room, North Oakland; and the Regent Square Theater, Edgewood. For more information, call 412-681-5449 or see www.pghfilmmakers.org.

 

Following are reviews and descriptions of films screening Nov. 19-23.

 

Addiction

 

 

ADDICTION. While leaving his Manhattan office late one night, bland and clean-cut Bobby (Frank Franconeri) is accosted by a mugger; in self-defense, he wrests the knife away and fatally stabs his assailant. He's sickened, stunned by his act, but says nothing -- not even to his patient wife. But soon -- and it's never really so clear why except that it's necessary to advance the story -- Frank feels empowered by his violent act. As he comes to crave his hyper-charged new state, he must commit more killings; he is as addicted as the handful of heroin junkies the film also portrays. It's hard to accept this dramatic shift as anything more than an exercise, a simplistic analogy between states of addiction. Addiction squanders time on subplots about junkies and out-of-work single mothers that do little to help us understand Bobby's newfound madness. There's potential here for a savvier study: Is it the stress of the modern office? The soulless padded cage of bedroom-community living? Some primal urge of man crushed by the mind-numbing order of modern living? But in James Tucker's film, Bobby is just another enigma with a knife issue. 9:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 21, and 9:30 p.m. Sat. Nov. 22. Melwood (Al Hoff) One and a half

 

BEYOND THE SOUL. Filmed in both India and the United States, this drama from Rajiv Anchal follows an American physician who, while helping a patient, begins to examine alternative medicine. 7:15 p.m. Thu., Nov. 20, and 5:15 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22. Harris

 

DEBT BEGINS AT 20. This part-fiction, part-truth chronicle of the punk scene in late 1970s Pittsburgh features Bill Bored, Sesame Spinelli and Reid Paley, plus music by The Cardboards, The Shakes and Hans Brinker and The Dykes. Filmmaker Stephanie Beroes will be present for this first public screening of Debt in more than a decade, and she will also screen recent work, including footage from the contemporary music scene in Prague. Live music will follow the screening. $10. 7 p.m. Sun., Nov. 23. Regent Square

 

THE EVENT. AIDS patient Matt throws himself a farewell party; his desire for assisted suicide leads his friends and colleagues to examine their feelings regarding Matt's life -- and death -- in this provocative film from writer/director Thom Fitzgerald. 9:30 p.m. Thu., Nov. 20. Regent Square

 

 

Girls WIll Be Girls

GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS. In this drag comedy filled with '70s kitsch, three Hollywood actresses all scheme to advance their careers. Hold onto your wigs! Directed by Richard Day, who has written for Ellen and The Larry Sanders Show. 9:45 p.m. Fri., Nov. 21; 9:45 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22; and 4 p.m. Sun., Nov. 23. Harris


Hukkle


HUKKLE
. In 29-year-old Hungarian director György Pálfi's film Hukkle, as in ordinary life, the rhythms of the everyday -- the trot of a pig, the whirr and whiz of a sewing machine, the rituals of a beekeeper and of (gasp!) a murderer -- add up to far more than the sum of their parts. Threaded together by the eponymous hiccups of an old man, this film explores a speck of a Hungarian village in its daily life with a sincerely appreciative musicality that at once describes that life and elevates it -- its humor, its beauty -- ultimately portraying that life as art. There's essentially no dialogue, and just a few moments of what we might even vaguely see as "action." Yet Hukkle's simple, gorgeous photography and rhythmic tale is done with such matter-of-fact perfection that it would be difficult not to be entranced by its hiccupping progression. 7:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 21, and 5 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22. Regent Square (Justin Hopper) Three and a half

 

ON_LINE. A collection of Manhattan-based bohemians meet "cute" online through a pay-for-view, live-video Web site. One of the site's owners, John (Josh Hamilton), is coming off a bad break-up, and between one-handed sessions he keeps on an online video journal; his partner Moe (Harold Perrineau) is your basic real-world cad -- and neither can stop checking out naked chicks online. Denizens of the sex site cross-mingle with those logging on to a suicide club, and you'll quickly sort out which Web denizen belongs with which. At its heart, On_Line wants all its lonely players matched up (not surprisingly, that happens only when this gang log off and hit the streets). It's You've Got Mail but upgraded with live streaming video, and grittied up with charming freaks. Your enjoyment of this fairly typical romantic comedy-of-errors may depend on your tolerance for scenes of strangers engaged in mutual masturbation via the Internet -- which may be fun to do, but is less captivating to watch. And while it's technically interesting that the film was shot on Web cams, the herky-jerky murkiness is frustrating. Splitting the screen -- a commonly used gambit to illustrate online conversation -- only causes further eyestrain. 7:30 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22, and 2 p.m. Sun., Nov. 23. Harris (AH) Two

 

PERIPHERAL PRODUCE PRESENTS. A collection of experimental short films and videos constitute a retrospective of the 7-year-old Peripheral Produce series in Portland, Ore. At least two have screened previously in Pittsburgh: Bill Brown's wry essay Buffalo Commons, about moribund agricultural small towns of the Midwest, and Matt McCormick's scathingly satirical The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal, which proposes that those monotonous rectangles of paint city workers make to blot out tags are themselves a form of creative expression. Other works include Miranda July's Getting Stronger Every Day and pieces by Naomi Uman, Animal Charm, Bryan Boyce and Jim Finn. 7:30 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22, and 4 p.m. Sun., Nov. 23. Melwood (BO)

 

THE RETURNER. This sci-fi action flick from Japanese director Takashi Yamazaki has gun ballets, time travel, post-apocalyptic woes, aliens and robots. In Japanese with subtitles. 9:15 p.m. Thu., Nov. 20, and 7:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 21. Harris

 

SHORTS PROGRAM NO. 3. Featuring works submitted by artists around the country, the Shorts Programs include narrative, experimental, animated and documentary short films. Filmmakers include Heather J. Thomas, Kathrynn Ramey and L. Marcus Williams. 7:15 p.m. Thu., Nov. 20. Melwood

 

A TALKING PICTURE. A history professor and her daughter take a Mediterranean cruise where they encounter historical sites, learned souls, fellow travelers (including cameos from Irene Papas, Stefania Sandrelli and John Malkovich), and perhaps a twist or two. Directed by Manoel de Oliveira. In several language with English subtitles. 7 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22, and 2 p.m. Sun., Nov. 23. Regent Square

 

TEXT OF LIGHT. As an adolescent, avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage once boasted that he could shoot a feature film in a wastepaper basket. Perhaps the closest he came was this 1974 film, a slow montage of the play of light through a large crystal ashtray. The silent, 67-minute film will be accompanied by a live musical score improvised by guitarists Lee Ranaldo (of Sonic Youth) and Alan Licht, turntablist Christian Marclay, DJ Olive and drummer William Hooker. 7:30 p.m. Wed., Nov. 19. $15. Regent Square. (Bill O'Driscoll)

 

TO BE AND TO HAVE. Nicolas Philibert's quiet documentary follows teacher Georges Lopez over the course of a year, as Lopez patiently teaches elementary school children -- of all ages -- in a rural one-room schoolhouse. There's no great drama (unless you count a snowball fight); what unfolds is a gentle portrait of a significant occupation often taken for granted -- and in a charming pastoral setting. In French with subtitles. 7:15 p.m. Thu., Nov. 20; 9:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 21; and 3 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22. Regent Square

 

Triplets


THE TRIPLETS OF
BELLEVILLE. Slyvain Chomet's quirky and stylized animated feature depicts a tiny grandmother and her grandson, who is training for the Tour de France. When he's kidnapped, Granny and her dog journey to Belleville, where the Triplets, aged music-hall stars, prove useful. In French with subtitles. 9:30 p.m. Sat., Nov. 22. Regent Square

 

THE YEAR THAT TREMBLED. In this coming-of-age drama, based on a novel by Scott Lax, the Vietnam War is the real protagonist, the looming thing that informs the crucial decisions made by loose-knit group of high school buddies, anti-war activists and neighbors. Jay Craven's film follows these mostly naïve Ohioans, living near Kent, from that fateful May 1970 -- when four students were shot by National Guardsmen on the Kent State campus -- through the following summer. The year they share in a ramshackle farmhouse seems idyllic enough, especially when compared to the stock news footage of the war Craven intersperses. Yet the specter of the draft creeps closer, and doing what is "right" seems more ambiguous than ever. The only older adults in the film are played straight by three noted funnymen: Martin Mull, Fred Willard and Henry Gibson. (Oddly enough, Mull and Willard came to national prominence as actors in TV's Mary Hartman and its Fernwood spin-offs -- all set in a fictional Ohio burg right near Kent.) Craven directs in a clear manner, though the film's greatest weakness is some amateurish acting, which appears all the more jarring when contrasted against the fervor depicted in the news footage of contemporary protests. But of course, today's actors lack the real-life motivations of kids being tear-gassed or shipped off to war. 9:30 p.m. Thu., Nov. 20; 7:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 21; and 2 p.m. Sun., Nov. 23. Melwood (AH) Two and a half

 

DAILY SCHEDULE

 

 

Wed., Nov. 19 

Harris Theater

No screening this evening.

 

Melwood Screening Room

No screening this evening.

 

Regent Square Theatre

7:30 p.m. Music and Image: Text of Light

 

Thu., Nov. 20

 

Harris Theater

7:15 p.m. Beyond the Soul (USA)

9:15 p.m. The Returner (Japan)

 

Melwood Screening Room

7:15 p.m. Shorts Program No. 3

9:30 p.m. The Year That Trembled (USA)

 

Regent Square Theater

7:15 p.m. To Be and To Have (France)

9:30 p.m. The Event (Canada)

 

Fri., Nov. 21 

Harris Theater

7:30 p.m. The Returner (Japan)

9:45 p.m. Girls Will Be Girls (USA)

 

Melwood Screening Room

7:30 p.m. The Year That Trembled (USA)

9:30 p.m. The Addiction (USA)

 

Regent Square Theatre

7:30 p.m. Hukkle (Hungary)

9:30 p.m. To Be and To Have (France)

 

Sat. Nov. 22 

Harris Theater

5:15 p.m. Beyond the Soul (USA)

7:30 p.m. On_Line (USA)

9:45 p.m. Girls Will Be Girls (USA)

 

Melwood Screening Room

7:30 p.m. Peripheral Produce Presents (USA)

9:30 p.m. The Addiction (USA)

 

Regent Square Theatre

3 p.m. To Be and To Have (France)

5 p.m. Hukkle (Hungary)

7 p.m. A Talking Picture (France/Portugal/Italy)

9:30 p.m. The Triplets of Belleville (France)

 

Sun., Nov. 23 

Harris Theater

2 p.m. On_Line (USA)

4 p.m. Girls Will Be Girls (USA)

 

Melwood Screening Room

2 p.m. The Year That Trembled (USA)

4 p.m. Peripheral Produce Presents (USA)

 

Regent Square Theatre

2 p.m. A Talking Picture (France/Portugal/Italy)

7 p.m. Debt Begins at 20: An Evening with Stephanie Beroes

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