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Review: Film-O-Rama 

Will Coviello on the good, the bad and the just plain weird features at this year's Film-O-Rama

Film-O-Rama

May 13-19

Prytania Theatre, 5339 Prytania St., 891-2787; www.theprytania.com or www.neworleansfilmsociety.org

click to enlarge In Rubber, Roxanne Mesquida and Stephen Spinella track a murderous tire. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MAGNOLIA PICTURES

For the week of Film-O-Rama (May 13-19), the Prytania Theatre's single screen will feature a greater variety of films than area multiplexes. The weeklong festival's 17 movies include independent and foreign features, documentaries, grindhouse schlock films and three screenings of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman.

  The lineup includes several notable documentaries. The People vs. George Lucas is about the devotees for whom Star Wars is much more than a cult film, it's almost a religion itself. Page One: a Year Inside The New York Times chronicles daily decisions and big stories against the backdrop of the paper's struggle to adjust and survive in the age of the Internet. Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams 3-D explores French caves with wall paintings believed to 32,000 years old.

  Dramatic releases include 13 Assassins, a Japanese drama about feuding samurai warlords. Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy garnered French actress Juliette Binoche a best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival. Set in Italy, it is the romantic story of a couple of strangers mistaken for husband and wife, who then get caught up in the pretense. Hobo with a Shotgun is a grindhouse orgy of violence and gore about an extraordinarily principled homeless man who arrives in a town almost literally held hostage by a sadistic entrepreneur who peddles entertainment in the form of outrageous and vicious attacks performed as public spectacles. Rubber is a far less bloody absurdity about a tire that goes on a killing spree. Imagine No Country for Old Men meets The Red Balloon. It would work better if director Quentin Dupieux had not tried to overtly address filmmaking devices and suspension of disbelief via an audience of observers within the film, but at times their comments on the action are funny, too. Visit www.neworleansfilmsociety.org for a schedule and details.

  Only a handful of local theaters are open to screening most documentaries and independent and foreign films. Many large chain theaters don't book films that are available on other media platforms, such as video on demand (VOD). Film festivals, like the New Orleans Film Society's October event and this showcase provide an opportunity for a very short run on a large screen. With just one screen, Prytania Theatre takes a big risk when booking a little-known film for an entire week, but the concentrated scheduling and appeal of a festival makes it possible to screen all sorts of films, says general manager Eric Ramstead. Some other local venues that schedule art house and documentary films include Chalmette Movies, which with several theaters can fit an odd film in its rotation, and Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, which almost exclusively runs foreign and independent films.

  The New Orleans Film Society is working with other organizations to sponsor screenings in a variety of alternative spaces. It recently presented King Kong in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in conjunction with the New Orleans Museum of Art's Where Y'Art series. Partnerships with Chalmette Movies and the Prytania Theatre offer society members regular free screenings as well.

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