The original 1990 pilot for David Lynch’s mystery series, with 15 minutes of extra footage, including a solution of sorts. It’s a lot better than what followed. 113 min. (JR)
If this Australian hit about adultery and midlife angst in Sydneyadapted by Andrew Bovell from his stage play Speaking in Tonguesweren’t quite so shapeless, it would be tempting to compare it to Carlo Emilio Gadda’s unfinished 1946 novel That Awful Mess on Via Merulana, a detective story whose focus is less the never-solved mystery than the overall misery exposed by the investigation. This is striking for its performancesespecially Anthony LaPaglia as a highly compromised (and married) detective, Rachael Blake as the married woman he sleeps with, Barbara Hershey as a troubled psychiatrist who disappears, and Geoffrey Rush as the latter’s husbandbut not terribly interesting in terms of mise en scene; Ray Lawrence (Bliss) directed. The somewhat abstruse title refers to a beautiful bush with a thorny underside. 120 min. (JR)
Three Argentinean killers, two of them lovers (Eduardo Noriega and Leonardo Sbaraglia), hide out in Uruguay after a bank heist with a heavy body count and wait for false passports. Under the strain, things start to come apart. Marcelo Piñeyro’s slick, homoerotic thriller, set in 1965, aims to be as hot as possible, and some might feel it succeeds, but I was reminded of commercials for cologne. In Spanish with subtitles. 125 min. (JR)
Souleymane Cisse’s extraordinarily beautiful and mesmerizing fantasy is set in the ancient Bambara culture of Mali (formerly French Sudan) long before it was invaded by Morocco in the 16th century. A young man (Issiaka Kane) sets out to discover the mysteries of nature (or komo, the science of the gods) with the help of his mother and uncle, but his jealous and spiteful father contrives to prevent him from deciphering the elements of the Bambara sacred rites and tries to kill him. Apart from creating a dense and exciting universe that should make George Lucas green with envy, Cisse has shot breathtaking images in Fujicolor and has accompanied his story with a spare, hypnotic, percussive score. Conceivably the greatest African film ever made, sublimely mixing the matter-of-fact with the uncanny, this wondrous work won the jury prize at the 1987 Cannes festival, and it provides an ideal introduction to a filmmaker who is, next to Ousmane Sembene, probably Africa’s greatest director. Not to be missed. 105 min. A new 35-millimeter print will be shown. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Friday, January 4, 6:15 and 8:15; Saturday, January 5, 4:15, 6:15, and 8:15; Sunday, January 6, 4:15 and 6:15; and Monday through Thursday, January 7 through 10, 6:15 and 8:15; 312-846-2800.