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        30 August
 
        Today's films in competition: *One Night Stand* by Mike
Figgis (USA) and *Vor*/*The Thief* by Pavel Chukhrai (Russia),
        Figgis's film is premiering at the festival and will open in the US
in November.  As the title suggests, the film recounts a passionate
night between Max (Wesley Snipes) and Karen (Nastassja Kinski) who
have met by chance.  Having decided that their encounter was nothing
but a one night stand, they put it behind them.  However, something
begins to erode their relationship with their respective spouses
(Mimi--Ming-Na Wen and Vernon--Kyle MacLachlan).  When Max and Karen
meet again a year later--again by chance, at the deathbed of Charlie
(beautifully played by Robert Downey Jr.), Max's friend and Karen's
brother in law, they are forced to face the predictable consequences
of that one night they spent together.
        Figgis has said of the film: "It's not a judgmental film about
guilt, but rather about life going through a period of crisis.  There
are three short films about marriage in *One Night Stand.*  The first
is a bitter sweet comedy on a one night stand between two married
people.  The second is on the pressures of careers and emotional
crises that can lead a married person to seek a fling.  The third is
on the consequences of that fling on those directly and indirectly
involved."      For some strange reason, the accredited journalists booed
at the screening I attended, which both surprised and enraged me.  On
the other hand the same people cheered enthusiastically at the film
*Gummo* directed by Harmony Korine (US), the screenwriter of *Kids,*
despite (or maybe because of) its characters' racism, homophobism,
and disturbing attitudes towards the physically and mentally
disabled.
        Similar in style to *Kids*, *Gummo* is a cinema verite exercise in
which a group of aimless white trash youths are paraded in front of
the camera for all to gawk at.  While the 23-year old Korine claims
that Jean-Luc Godard is his idol, the film implies that it may
actually be P.T. Barnum, as it has dozens of distorted humans to look
at, but nothing of much value to say.
        Of *Vor*, set in 1952 in the Soviet Union, the director says, "The
idea for *Vor* came to me three years ago, when I heard the story of
a thief who pretended to be a military officer, set himself up in a
popular quarter of the city together with a woman and her young son
[editor's note: Misa Filipcuk, who looks like Kolja's brother] and
started burgling his neighbors.  This film partly arises from my
personal desire to shoot a film in the areas of my childhood.  The
film is about the childhood of an entire generation that has had a
key influence on the present day life of the country.  For me, it was
very important to explain why the post-war generation grew up the way
it did."
        Also screening today was *The Second Civil War*, an HBO
production directed by American Joe Dante.  It imagines a situation
in which the governor of Idaho (played by Beau Bridges) closes the
borders against immigration to end ethnic conflicts within his state.
 Dante says, "Imagine if this had happened in 1850.  It would have
taken months for people to hear about it.  Now news spreads
instantaneously."  The film is based on the first draft of a book by
Edward Lutvak, "The Thirdworldizaion of America", which takes an
apocalyptic view of the results of American immigration policy.
Besides Bridges, it also features Dan Hedaya, Elizabeth Pena, James
Coburn, James Earl Jones, and Denis Leary.  The bad news is that it
is played as a farce -- and not a very funny one at that,
infantilizing the spectator throughout.
 
        gloria monti
 
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