The team responsible for Ghost World–director Terry Zwigoff, screenwriter/comic book artist Daniel Clowes, and John Malkovich’s production company–reunites for this bitter satirical comedy. An ambitious and virginal young artist (Max Minghella) arrives at art school in search of sex and fame, but the careerism he encounters causes him to despair and betray his talent, especially when the model he loves (Sophia Myles) goes after one of his classmates. It’s a fascinating and provocative muddle: social satire, self-hatred, misanthropy, and misogyny become hard to disentangle as a subplot involving a serial killer comes to the fore. With Malkovich, Matt Keeslar, Jim Broadbent, Steve Buscemi, and Anjelica Huston. R, 102 min.
In this loving and heartbreaking 2004 video Margaret Loescher recounts her father’s traumatic experience in Iraq. A specialist in war refugees and correspondent for the Web page OpenDemocracy, Gil Loescher was meeting with the UN commissioner for human rights when a truck filled with explosives hit the building, killing 22 people and costing Loescher much of his right hand and both his legs. In her terse but eloquent voice-over Margaret denounces the war and its justifications, but she also interrogates her own motives in recording her family’s struggles and respects the fact that othersincluding the paramedic who saved her father’s life and whom she interviewsfeel differently. 63 min. (JR)
This 2005 video offers a bracing lesson in global economics, crosscutting between a bead factory in Fuzhou, China (a kind of internment camp where teenage girls work 12-hour shifts for ten cents an hour), and the New Orleans Mardi Gras festivities where the beads end up (including a ritual in which women flash their breasts in exchange for them). Video maker David Redmon repeatedly asks each group about the other and discovers that both are usually clueless. No surprise there, nor in the factory boss’s spin on how happy everyone is, the recycling of the beads in care packages sent to Baghdad, or the fact that the styrene used to manufacture them causes cancer. In English, Cantonese, Fujianese, and Mandarin with subtitles. 72 min. (JR)
Sincere, square, and interminable, this World War II adventure (1949) stars Gregory Peck as a hard-as-nails brigadier general who takes command of a U.S. bombing squad in England, works his men to the limit, dispatches them to bomb the hell out of Germany, and flips out from the strain. Peck and director Henry King teamed up again the next year for The Gunfighter, a masterpiece that undermined the same sort of macho cliches presented here at face value. With Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill, Millard Mitchell, Paul Stewart, and Dean Jagger, who copped an Oscar. 132 min. (JR)
A two-hour program of shorts selected and hosted by Gregory Lukow, chief of the Library of Congress’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division. On the basis of two classics in the program that I’ve seenGjon Mili’s great jazz documentary Jammin’ the Blues (1944, 10 min.), with a priceless appearance by Lester Young, and Chuck Jones’s 1957 Bugs Bunny cartoon What’s Opera, Doc?this should be well worth checking out. Also screening are The House I Live In (1945), a piece of liberal propaganda on behalf of racial and ethnic tolerance starring Frank Sinatra, and The Happy Hottentots (1930), a one-reel comedy. (JR)