Arthouse Film Picks

What's at the Cinematheque and Cleveland Museum of Art this week?

Art of the Steal

This terrific documentary begins with the announcement that the art collection Albert Barnes amassed in 1922 was relocating five miles from its current museum to downtown Philadelphia — a move made against the late Barnes' wishes. The movie works its way backward through a tumultuous history that includes sordid backroom dealings that ensured the collection would end up in Philadelphia. After Barnes died in 1951, city leaders (with some assistance from deep-pocketed board members) filed lawsuits to relocate the collection, claiming the move would boost tourism. Art of the Steal documents the battle in detail. Even if art isn't your thing, there's plenty of drama in this David vs. Goliath story to keep you on the edge of your seat. Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. At 7 p.m. Friday, July 2. (Jeff Niesel)

I Am Love

"Romance" may have derived from the vulgar Latin, but the romance in the Italian-made I Am Love is pure upper-crust elegance. From the stunning ensembles that everybody wears to the gorgeous homes, villas, and vistas in which the movie takes place, Love looks like a Vogue fashion spread come to sweeping, melodramatic life. The Milanese Recchi family built its fortune in the garment industry, and at the family patriarch's birthday fete — complete with seating chart and white-gloved attendants — he announces he's retiring and leaving the business to his son Tancredi (Pippo Delbono) and grandson Edoardo (the doe-eyed, handsome Flavio Parenti), starting Love's generational drama. The real fireworks come courtesy of Tancredi's Russian wife, played by Tilda Swinton, who learned both Russian and Italian for the role and speaks both with subtle, consummate grace. Swinton is the expected and undisputed star here, slowly and sometimes wordlessly unfurling nesting dolls of passions. But the real dazzle comes from how director Luca Guadagnino and editor Walter Fasano orchestrate Yorick Le Saux's cinematography to John Adams' score. The result is often intoxicating, symphonic pretension that goes down surprisingly well. Opens Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre. (Bret McCabe)


After getting hit by a stray bullet that becomes lodged in his skull, video-store clerk Bazil (Dany Boon) joins forces with a makeshift community of wacky junkyard denizens (including the divine Yolande Moreau from Seraphine) to take down a pair of piggish weapons manufacturers. The latest film by Gallic fabulist Jean-Pierre Jeunet feels like a retrenchment — it's a lot closer to cultish earlier works like Delicatessen and City of Lost Children than it is to the hyperbolic romanticism of art-house blockbusters Amélie and A Very Long Engagement. Though perfectly enjoyable, and as heedlessly inventive and visually dazzling as every other Jeunet film, Micmacs suffers from the absence of muse Audrey Tautou. Littered with charming digressions and witty nuggets of Tati-esque physical comedy, the film is a self-contained film festival for Francophiles of all ages. Opens Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre. (Milan Paurich)


"The need for fantasy is greater in the adult than in the child," says outsider artist Renaldo Kuhler at the start of this documentary about his life. Kuhler has spent the past 60 years documenting a fantasy world with his art. Located somewhere in Canada, this imaginary world includes wild forests, a ski resort, and rolling hills. Rocaterrania has solved many of the world's problems (it's a poor country, so its residents aren't caught up in consumer greed). But it's also a way for the 76-year-old Kuhler to cope with his own problems (other kids picked on him when he was a child, and his parents were mentally abusive). This fascinating film explores a very complicated man's life and his bizarre imagination. Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 30. (Niesel)


Maria de Medeiros made her screen debut in this 1982 movie about a nobleman's daughter. The film concludes the Cinematheque's tribute to Portuguese director João César Monteiro. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 1, and 9:10 p.m. Friday, July 2.

A Town Called Panic

Someone referred to this Belgian stop-motion film as "Toy Story on acid." You've been warned. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 7:25 p.m. Saturday, July 3.

War Lords

Peter Chan's historical epic opens with a battle where everyone is killed except for general Pang Qing-Yun (Jet Li), who emerges from a pile of bodies and is nursed back to health by farm girl Liansheng (Xu Jinglei). Pang meets a pair of bandits he convinces to join the army. It's not long before the three become "blood brothers" and proceed to successfully take on bigger armies in enormous battle scenes that must have cost a small fortune to stage. Warlords certainly has an epic scope and scale, but too often it resorts to melodramatic moments (like when the guys pledge their allegiance over a roaring campfire) to be truly convincing. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 7 p.m. Friday, July 2 and at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 3. (Niesel)

White Meadows

An Iranian boatman who collects tears is at the center of this film, a highlight at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 7:50 p.m. Thursday, July 1, and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, July 3.

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