The Adventures of God
(dir. Subiela, Argentina)

Using the rooms and hallways of an historic hotel as its canvas, The Adventures of God paints a metaphorical dreamscape of a man searching for his identity, or god, or something like that. The heavy-handed, symbolic plot is hardly worth noticing, leaving us to feed on the visual elements of the film. Drawing from the work of Dali, Bunuel, Greenaway, Svankmajer and a host of other surrealist filmmakers, Subiela creates quite a fantastical world. Unfortunately, the use of digital video cameras in place of actual film keeps us from enjoying any aspect of the great art direction; everything is flat, there is no color and no definition. That leaves us with... well... just about nothing. PABLO DE OCAMPO Fox Tower: 8:15 pm, Feb 10; 5 pm, Feb 11

*Bread and Tulips
(dir. Silvio Soldini, Italy)

In this movie, the main character is a housewife with grown kids who looks about like a housewife, and she's terrific. She's well worth watching as she evolves from a harried mother on a bus tour to a freewheeling single woman establishing a new life in Venice. MONICA DRAKE Fox Theater: 7:15 pm, Feb 9; 3 pm, Feb 10

*The Faithless
(dir. Ullman, Sweden)

As unflinchingly debilitating as it is long, this film, directed by Liv Ullman, carries on the traditions of retired filmmaker (and author of this screenplay) Ingmar Bergman. Much like a Bergman film, the narrative unfolds as if it were a therapy session. An aging screenwriter (named Bergman) sits in his study as his imagined character, Marianne, recounts the details of the story he is trying to pen. She tells of her friendship with a man that inevitably turns romantic. Markus, her husband, spends much of his time traveling as a conductor, but learns of Marianne's affair all the same, and everyone's life collides in total destruction. While not for the impatient soul, The Faithless is every bit as beautiful and heartwrenching as one would expect from Ullman and Bergman. PABLO DE OCAMPO Guild Theater: 1:45 pm, Feb 10; 6:45 pm, Feb 11

With a Friend Like Harry
(dir. Moll, France)

In this film, Michael, on vacation with his wife and three daughters, runs into Harry, an all-too-friendly and ominous classmate from his high school days. After an awkward conversation, Harry and his girlfriend invite themselves to Michael's vacation home and proceed to intrude on their lives for the rest of the film. But he intrudes so politely--what could be suspicious about this kind Frenchie-Man? There's no way he's going to go psycho and kill everyone?!? Oh shit... did I give away the ending? PABLO DE OCAMPO Guild Theater: 7 pm Feb 9; 1:45 pm, Feb 11

The Girl in the Sneakers
(dir. Rassul Sadr Amerli, Iran)

A 15-year-old girl, attracted to a philosophical and dreamy boy she meets in the park, finds herself nearly squashed under the oppressive rule of her parents and culture when the authorities step in. Ultimately, the story is about the perpetual conflict between control and impulsiveness in a person, a family or a culture as a whole. MONICA DRAKE Broadway Theater: 2:45 pm, Feb 10; 7 pm, Feb 12; 6:30 pm, Feb 15

* Innocence
(dir. Cox, Australia)

In this surprisingly sweet and heartfelt film, director Paul Cox traverses into a territory rarely explored: a passionate, romantic love story about a couple in their seventies. Andreas and Claire reconnect after their brief love affair fifty years earlier. Through beautifully sincere memory sequences, Cox inter-cuts Claire and Andreas' memories of each other with their present-day encounters. While the film is far from perfect, it certainly avoids becoming the expected and simplistically preachy schlock it could have been. Rather, Cox touches on so many subtle ideas that we are left with an intelligent and sweet meditation on spirituality (of the atheistic variety, even!), love, maturity and death. PABLO DE OCAMPO
Broadway Theater: 7:30 pm, Feb 9 & 11; 6:15 pm, Feb 10

The Taste of Others
(dir. Jaoui, France)

If this gentle romantic comedy were Iranian it would be the perfect PIFFle program. But it happens to be French, so you know there will be lots of pillow talk, cafe lounging, and infidelity. Actress-turned-director Agnes Jaoui offers up a tale of a businessman (Jean-Pierre Bacri) with bodyguards who falls inexplicably for a homely actress (Anne Alvaro). The film has a few nicely observed moments, but this is the kind of domestic tale that the French turn out in their sleep, and all too often sleep is the viewer's reaction of choice. Why a minor, two-year-old French film demands inclusion in this year's festival, however, remains anyone's guess. D. K. HOLM Guild Theater: 7:15 pm, Feb 14; Whitsell Auditorium: 7 pm, Feb 15

* Yi Yi
(dir. Edward Yang, Taiwan)

Confident enough in its rhythms to dwell gingerly over the rituals and mysteries of a teenager's first date yet almost rush without comment past a murder, Edward Yang's Yi Yi manages the miraculous feat of being a work of art that unfolds with the inevitability of life. If this family drama is not a masterpiece, the word is meaningless. BRUCE REID Whitsell Hall, 7 pm, Feb 10

For more reviews, see Film Shorts pg 35.