OSU festival offering big films in small packages


CORVALLIS - The International Film Series at Oregon State University will offer proof winter term that, in judging films by their titles, size doesn't matter.

The OSU festival's winter term slate includes a number of critically acclaimed films from the United States, Japan, Great Britain and The Netherlands, and their titles flash by as quickly as one of those subliminal shots of popcorn they allegedly show in theaters.

Wilde. Crumb. The Eel. Character. Pi.

The similarities among the films, in many cases, began and end with the titles. The slate includes a variety of different types of movies, from biopics about Oscar Wilde and Robert Crumb to, of all things, a thriller about mathematics. Go figure.

Leading off the fall term schedule is "The Opposite of Sex," which critics loved for its anti-sitcom overtones and a standout performance from actress Christina Ricci. Called intelligent, cynical, hilarious and venomous, this sort-of romantic comedy will be shown on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 8-9.

Later in January, the festival will offer John Sayles' "Men With Guns" and Barbara Kopple's documentary on Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn, "Wild Man Blues."

And then come the short-titled features.

"Character" (Jan. 29-30) is the winner of the Academy Award for best foreign film. The masterfully directed film by Mike van Diem of The Netherlands is a strange yet effective combination of paranoia and a coming of age tale, featuring a young lawyer accused of murder and his mysterious father.

The series concludes Feb. 26-27 with "Pi," a story about Max, a paranoid genius plagued by headaches and a bleeding brain, who is obsessed with numbers. Using numbers to predict the stock market, and to numerically determine the name of God, he is pursued by Wall Street thugs as well as a desperate group of Hasidic Jews.


All films will be shown at Gilfillan Auditorium in Wilkinson Hall for $3. The series is sponsored by the Center for the Humanities and the English department. The schedule for winter term follows:


  • Jan. 8-9

    "The Opposite of Sex," by Don Roos (U.S., 1998) - Former television writer Roos made his directorial debut with this offbeat romantic comedy starring Christina Ricci. Called an "anti-sitcom," the film looks at love from a different viewpoint than Hollywood usually takes. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m.


  • Jan. 15-16

    "Men With Guns," by John Sayles (U.S., 1998) - Set in a Latin American country, the film chronicles the odyssey of a wealthy doctor through a countryside torn by political, social and spiritual unrest. Veteran independent film maker Sayles uses the doctor's journey to look at past and present Latin America, and peek into its future. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9:30 p.m.


  • Jan. 22-23

    "Wild Man Blues," by Barbara Kopple (U.S., 1998) - This rare documentary glimpse at the personal life of Woody Allen and his new wife, Soon-Yi Previn comes on the heels of Allen's well-chronicled personal battles which provided fodder for every tabloid on the newstands. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m.


  • Jan. 29-30

    "Character," by Mike van Diem (The Netherlands, 1998) - Winner of the Oscar for best foreign language film, "Character" is set in claustrophobic Rotterdam in the 1920s. It explores the complicated relationship between a young lawyer accused of murder and his mysterious father. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9:30 p.m.


  • Feb. 5-6

    "Wilde," by Brian Gilbert (Great Britain, 1998) - Based on Richard Ellmann's biography, the film focuses on the homosexuality, sexual awakening and social pressures of Oscar Wilde, while firmly and entertainingly establishing his importance in the development of 20th century culture. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m.


  • Feb. 12-13

    "Crumb," by Terry Zwigoff (U.S., 1995) - An unforgettably disturbing journey into the life of underground legend Robert Crumb, this highly acclaimed film won kudos for director Zwigoff and its portrayal of Crumb as a bizarre combination of genius and madman. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m.


  • Feb. 19-20

    "The Eel," by Shohei Imamura (Japan, 1998) - Winner of the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, this film follows a taciturn character named Yamashita, freshly released from prison with only his pet eel as friend and companion. This combination of comedy, fantasy and romance follows Yamashita's emergence into a society of obligation, love and danger. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m.


  • Feb. 26-27

    "Pi," by Darren Aronofsky (U.S., 1998) - A thriller about mathematics, of all things, "Pi" is the story of Max, a paranoid genius who is plagued by headaches and a bleeding brain, and obsessed with numbers. He thinks they will unlock the secrets of the universe, from predicting Wall Street to identifying God. His obsession results in his pursuit by Wall Street thugs and a group of Hasidic Jews. Director Aronofsky uses black-and-white film, quick edits and a thumping soundtrack to capture Max's claustrophobic descent into ruin. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m.