'The Elite Squad,' Claude Chabrol: Los Angeles Film Festival

by Andre Soares

The Elite Squad by Jose Padilha

José Padilha's The Elite Squad (AMC Avco Center 4:00 pm), about cops and druglords in Rio's slums, was the controversial winner of this year's Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.

Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In

Jason Sanders calls Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In (screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist) “a remarkable award-winning blend of preteen schoolyard melodrama and vampire flick.” (AMC Avco Center 10:30 pm)

Bye Bye Birdie by George Sidney

Bye Bye Birdie (outdoor screening on Broxton Ave in Westwood at 8:30 pm). This 1963 George Sidney musical spoof on the Elvis Presley phenomenon stars Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh, and a highly charged Ann-Margret. Not the greatest comedy or musical ever made, but it's worth a look. And it's free.

James Marsh's Man on Wire

James Marsh's Man on Wire (Majestic Crest 7:00 pm), about the French acrobat who walked on a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers back in 1974, was the best documentary winner at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Lori Petty's The Poker House

Lori Petty's The Poker House (Mann Festival 7:30 pm) is a coming-of-age story in which the young heroine is stuck “with a strung-out mother, a pimp father figure, and a home overrun by gamblers, thieves, and johns.” Petty co-wrote the screenplay with David Alan Grier, who also has a role in the film. The Poker House stars Selma Blair, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bokeem Woodbine.

Al Pacino in Scarface

The Swear-A-Long Scarface screening (Ford Amphitheatre 8:30 pm) – that's the Brian De Palma Scarface, starring Al Pacino – sounds like entertainment for the whole family. It'll certainly be more wholesome than those perverse The Sound of Music sing-a-longs.

Ludivine Sagnier, Francois Berleand in A Girl Cut in Two

Claude Chabrol's A Girl Cut in Two (Majestic Crest 9:45 pm) stars Ludivine Sagnier (who was excellent in both 8 Women and Swimming Pool), Benoît Magimel (the handsome and oh-so-wholesome young man seduced by kinky Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Player), and François Berléand (best known for The Chorus / Les Choristes). On the LAFF website, Rachel Rosen wrote the following: “Set in and around present-day Lyon, France, Claude Chabrol's latest wicked evisceration of France's class-conscious society takes as its jumping-off point the famed Golden Age murder of the architect Stanford White. Ludivine Sagnier plays Gabrielle, a young TV weather reporter simultaneously pursued by two men: a jaded womanizing novelist and a young eccentric heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. Though no pushover, Gabrielle is not immune to the attractions of either intellectual culture or moneyed society. At the same time, her presence seems to magnify the two men's egos and insecurities with calamitous results.”

Pang Ho-Cheung's Exodus

“While taking a statement from women's room peeper Kwan, police officer and career underachiever Tsim quickly decides his suspect must be nuts, especially when Kwan claims he's investigating a female conspiracy to kill all men. But when Kwan recants after a visit from Tsim's superior, Madam Fong, Tsim does a little research of his own and notices a striking pattern of 'accidental' deaths. Could it be true? And what's with Tsim's pretty wife and her nutcracker dolls?” That's Lucia Bozzola on Pang Ho-Cheung's Exodus (The Landmark 3 7:00 pm).

Hafner's Paradise by Gunter Schwaiger

“Eighty-three-years-old, fit, and active, Paul Hafner would be the model octogenarian if he weren't penning a book called Hitler For Eternity. Günter Schwaiger's subversive documentary chronicles the day-to-day life of this former S.S. officer and Holocaust denier, now in his fifth decade as a resident of Madrid, who considers his life – past and present – perfect.” That's how Amy Nicholson describes Hafner's Paradise (The Landmark 3 10:00 pm).

Robert Kramer's Ice

Scott Foundas on Robert Kramer's Ice (Billy Wilder Theater 3:30 pm): “Praised by Jonas Mekas as 'the most original and most significant American narrative film of the late sixties,' Ice unfolds in a vaguely defined neo-future (looking suspiciously like late-1960s New York) where the U.S. has abandoned the war in Vietnam in favor of a new one in Mexico, and where a revolutionary guerilla cell struggles to maintain unity while combating government-issued fascism.” In the cast: Leo Braudy, Tom Griffin, Robert Kramer, Paul McIsaac.

Mathieu Amalric in Heartbeat Detector

Lucia Bozzola on Nicolas Klotz's Heartbeat Detector (screenplay by Elisabeth Perceval): “Assured company psychologist Simon Kessler excels at weeding out bad employees at a German chemical conglomerate's Paris branch and helping the corporate team bond through the occasional dance rave. Naturally, he's the icy assistant director's go-to guy to surreptitiously diagnose the CEO's recent odd behavior. As Kessler's clandestine operation deepens, he uncovers secrets about the company's wartime past that upset his own emotional stability.” Heartbeat Detector stars Mathieu Amalric and veteran Michael Lonsdale. (The duo played father and son in Steven Spielberg's Munich.) (Billy Wilder Theater 7:00 pm)

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Cindy Moore -

The Poker House is the most well thought out, creative and realistic piece of art that I have ever seen and I have seen much with my eyes. This movie I saw with my head, eyes, heart, and heard every bit with my ears. How amazing! Lori Petty should win the best of all time there is no other like her, super award! And the young cast bleeds out talent from their veins. C. Moore

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