WorldFest: Wild, Mild and Wicked

Moviegoers may find both their Sixth Happiness and Seventh Heaven in these 40 featured indie films

Long John Silver is supposed to be the most fearsome man to sail the sea. But at the end, the old, tired sailor couldn't remember the names of sails. Jim laughed and looked happy for no apparent reason; he was probably just glad it was over. (Wendy Grossman)

Treasure Island Friday, April 16, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 18, at 7 p.m.

Dark Dance
You get the feeling Angel's Dance was supposed to be a studio release -- it stars James Belushi. The film, directed by David Corley, is the story of Tony (Kyle Chandler), who is a contract killer in training, his Zen-ish mentor (Belushi) and Angel (Sheryl Lee), the woman/target he falls in love with.

At his hit-man graduation ceremony, Tony is required by "The Rose," Belushi's hit man extraordinaire, to choose a victim at random from the phone book and off her. Just Tony's luck -- he chooses the wrong woman. His first attempted whacks fail and frighten the originally addle-brained Angel into becoming a tough-minded self-defense expert who winds up doing a little killing of her own. Turns out she likes murder much more than Tony does.

This reads as if the film were a rather nifty black comedy, and it does wind up being worth watching, but only after putting its viewers through quite a bit of foolishness. (David Theis)

Angel's Dance Thursday, April 15, at 5 p.m. and Saturday, April 17, at 7 p.m.

Breakfast Treat
Chocolate for Breakfast, directed by Emily Baer, is the story of the lives and loves of four young women living together in New York City. One's a Wall Street whiz about to have an out-of-wedlock baby, which is taken as a direct affront by her freedom-loving roommates.

There are good things here, including the now-familiar sex-talk-among-gals scenes. And their communal lives, especially the sharing of the bathroom, are nicely observed, as is the women's fierce sense of intimacy, so awe-inspiring to a male viewer such as myself. So this is worth a look, even though it also feels a bit like a boyless episode of Friends. (David Theis)

Chocolate for Breakfast Thursday, April 15, at 9 p.m. and Saturday, April 17, at 5 p.m.

Noble Conquest
The Canadian films that wind up in film festivals tend to be rather small, bloodless affairs. At first I was afraid that description would also apply to Conquest, directed by Piers Haggard. It tells the story of a small Saskatchewan town that is so down-and-out it's on the verge of drying up and blowing away.

But this town called Conquest, and the movie itself, gets a blast of energy from the arrival of a beautiful and mysterious young woman, Daisy MacDonald (Tara Fitzgerald), whose disabled car strands her among the gloomy locals. Even though he's a banker, it doesn't take Pincer Bedier (Lothaire Bluteau) long to fall in love with the mysterious stranger.

Local women are attracted to her as well, seeing as how they're all too old to be threatened by her. Especially taken is Grace, who is inspired by Daisy's Alfa Romeo to dream about Rome. She has always wanted to escape Conquest but never quite got the nerve. This is familiar material, except in its United States version Grace would not be haunted by her memories of the death of Ernest Hemingway, to which her farmer husband was curiously indifferent. After seeing Bluteau suffer spiritually as the Jesuit priest in Black Robe, and as Jesus of Montreal, it was nice to see him get the girl. (David Theis)

Conquest Thursday, April 15, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 18, at 5 p.m.

Kids' Turn
Shiloh Season is the best of the festival's children's movies. It begins badly, with an entire novel's worth of voice-over narration, but then settles into a satisfying story. A bitter, alcoholic old man wants back the pup he gave to a young boy. The boy resists, eventually wins the old man over and helps him regain his will to live. The film is directed by Sandy Tung and has a fine cast, including Rod Steiger and Michael Murphy. (David Theis)

Shiloh Season Friday, April 16, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 18, at 3 p.m.

Love Shorts
A Short Story About Love is an episode from Krzysztof Kieslowski's monumental Dekalog series, in which he made ten short films, each one illustrating a "Thou Shalt Not" from the Ten Commandments. In Short Story, a young man spies on the promiscuous woman living next door to him. Observing what appear to be her loveless couplings, the young man becomes so depressed that he attempts suicide. Moved by his gesture, the woman turns her attentions to him. Kieslowski can be heavy going, but this film is a wry, sly take on the vagaries of love. (David Theis)

A Short Story About Love Wednesday, April 14, at 9 p.m.

Bland Black Bean
I wanted to like Catfish in Black Bean Sauce more than I did. It has recognizable faces, including the tragically underused Paul Winfield, mixed with total unknowns, and a potentially engaging story line. Winfield's character is a Vietnam vet and father to two grown Vietnamese kids.

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