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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reviews of the Cinematheque's weekend films

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 11:28 AM

The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque is showing several great movies this weekend. Here are our reviews of three of them.

Know Your Mushrooms (Canada, 2008) Part Discovery Channel-style nature doc, part totally awesome mind-fuck, Know Your Mushrooms digs up the historical and social impact of shrooms through the ages. Using Telluride, Colorado’s annual four-day Mushroom Festival as its springboard, the film chronicles pretty much every facet of mushroom culture. A bunch of shroom experts, amateur hunters and other fungus fanatics discuss both the culinary and mind-altering — um, medicinal — benefits of their favorite spore-bearing food source. Authors, educators and some hairy young dude who can barely put together a sentence weigh in too. Plus, there’s lots of time-lapse photography, CGI animation, traditional animation, ancient PSAs and old TV commercials. But the best testimonials come from festival attendees — old and young, extremists and newbies, curious nature hikers and Birkenstock-sporting hippies. “There’s something really cool about finding free food,” says fungus hunter Larry Evans, a self-described “mushroom gypsy” and the film’s chief mushroom proponent. “Going out in the woods and, ‘Hey, you can eat that!’” At 8:35 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11 and at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12. *** (Michael Gallucci)

The Limits of Control (Spain/US/Japan, 2009) Jim Jarmusch-come-latelys who dug 2005’s (relatively conventional by Jarmusch standards) Broken Flowers will probably grit their teeth throughout The Limits of Control. Isaach De Bankolé plays Lone Man, a typically taciturn, largely inscrutable Jarmusch protagonist who gives every appearance of being a somnambulist, despite the fact that his character never seems to sleep. A pointedly obfuscating series of encounters with equally confounding, baldly monickered types (Tilda Swinton is Blonde, Gael García Bernal is Mexican) passes for plot (never a big deal in Jarmusch land anyway). Like most Jarmusch films, The Limits of Control is basically a series of repetitions, and the transcendental beauty of cinematographer Chris Doyle’s gorgeously lit, rigorously composed images makes the experience damn near hypnotic. At 9:10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13. *** (Milan Paurich)

The Unmistaken Child (Israel, 2008) Pedestrian documentary about Nepalese monk Tenzin Zopa’s four-year search for the reincarnation of his Tibetan master. The most intriguing parts of the film involve anxious stage parents “auditioning” their gurgling infants for this plum gig. The fact that none of the toddlers has the slightest idea who Zopa is or what’s expected of them gives their testing sequences the feel of slightly surreal Stupid Pet Tricks. You’re never remotely convinced that the child Zopa ultimately decides is his reborn master was the reincarnation of anyone. But maybe you have to be a Buddhist to accept that sort of thing on faith alone. While an abbreviated version of Nati Baratz’s overlong, prosaic movie could have made serviceable TLC or Discovery Channel fodder, it seems conspicuously out of place on the big screen. At 9:05 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13. ** (Paurich)

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