Five Golden Reels

The Deep Ellum Film Festival grows up--nicely

On the Run (Cavale) This is the second installment of Lucas Belvaux's trilogy of films, which includes A couple épatant (a comedy) and Après la vie (a drama); this one's the "thriller," more or less. Less, actually, as Belvaux's Bruno, a terrorist committing random acts of violence in the service of "liberating" the "people," spends most of the film scampering from hiding place to hiding place in Grenoble after he escapes from prison; rarely is a film's title intended to be taken so literally. Bruno's not a character with which we can sympathize; his actions are brutal and senseless, and even when he dries out a cop's junkie wife his motives are purely those of self-preservation, and he thinks nothing of involving a former lover and comrade (Catherine Frot) or endangering her young son in his violent escapades. Yet the film's gripping nonetheless, perhaps because rare is the occasion when we root for the demise of a main character; Bruno's more than someone you love to hate, he's someone you'd love to see dead. October 28, 9:30 p.m., Angelika. (R.W.)

Party Monster Macaulay Culkin stars as Michael Alig, the murderous "Club Kid" of New York's Limelight in this emotionally distressing yet compulsively watchable drama by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, who made a documentary on the same subject in 1988 with the same title. Interesting as that was, it didn't have what this amusingly rancid jape has, which is not only the star of Home Alone, but Seth Green as his aide de camp (or campy, as it were) James St. James. It's one of the most original pieces of acting in years. Chloë Sevigny, Wilmer Valderrama, Wilson Cruz, Marilyn Manson, Diana Scarwid and Dylan McDermott also figure effectively in the cast. October 27, 7:30 p.m., Angelika. (D.E.)

Bad luck of the Irish: A family wins and loses In America, Jim Sheridan's poignant fairy tale.
Bad luck of the Irish: A family wins and loses In America, Jim Sheridan's poignant fairy tale.
Hello, my baby: Alien: The Director's Cut opens Deep Ellum Film Festival.
Hello, my baby: Alien: The Director's Cut opens Deep Ellum Film Festival.

The Triplets of Belleville It's baffling how Sylvain Chomet's animated feature has been tagged as "hilarious" and "delightful" by critics who've seen it at Cannes and during its European run; it's dazzling, yes, but also mordant and dour, the laugh that sticks in your chest. It tells the story of a mother who trains her pudgy son to be a champion cyclist at the expense of all else, including his beloved dog, only to watch him grow up and get kidnapped by gangsters who'd use him and others as caged animals to be wagered on and disposed of. Hysterical. Then again, Chomet's is a dark, occasionally mean sense of humor that imagines the United States as a fat and self-contented country (even the Statue of Liberty, holding aloft a Big Mac, is obese) and renders three singing sisters as grenade-wielding frog-killers. So goofy this ain't. Brilliant, though? Quite possibly. October 28, 7:30 p.m. (R.W.)

Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election Was Florida's confused vote in the 2000 presidential election a farce or a tragedy? Clearly, it was both, according to filmmakers Richard Ray Pérez and Joan Sekler's 50-minute documentary on the bitterly contested recount that saw George W. Bush elected president. Going beyond issues of hanging chads and confused elderly voters mistakenly casting ballots for Patrick Buchanan, Pérez and Sekler carefully chronicle a slew of missteps--some inadvertent, some cynically less so--that saw black, likely Democratic voters removed from the voting rolls by a Republican administration before the election. The story continues post-Election Day, as both Democrats and Republicans struggle to ensure that the right votes--that is, theirs--are counted, while thousands remain disenfranchised. Though the GOP takes the hardest licks in the filmmakers' well-documented report, this is no pro-Al Gore polemic, but instead makes clear that elections are run by those whose interest is in winning at all costs, rather than guaranteeing the promise of one person, one vote. October 26, 7 p.m., Angelika. (Patrick Williams)

Whale Rider Niki Caro's sound, smart, sweet and significant crowd-pleaser (liberally adapted from the novel by Witi Ihimaera) takes an elegant approach to its feminist salvo. Our focal point is Paikea (wunderkind discovery Keisha Castle-Hughes), a preteen Maori girl named by her bohemian father, Porourangi (Hollywood staple Cliff Curtis), after the male ancestor who originated the Ngati Konohi tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, a thousand years earlier, arriving astride a whale. Pai being a girl doesn't please her sternly traditionalist, unrepentantly sexist grandfather Koro Apirana (terrific Rawiri Paratene), so she strives to earn his acceptance and respect--and claim her tribal destiny--helped along by her whip-smart grandmother Nanny Flowers (energetic Vicky Haughton) and noble uncle Rawiri (charming Grant Roa). Caro's desire to make men look silly wears thin, but otherwise she relates Maori sensibilities and culture with great affection and aplomb, delivering a film as important, yet generally more audience-friendly, than 1997's Once Were Warriors. October 24, 10 p.m., Angelika. (Gregory Weinkauf)

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