At Baltimore Film Festival, two movies are worlds apart


No two more disparate films could be imagined than the odd couple that show today at the 26th Annual Baltimore International Film Festival at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The 7:30 screening is a dour, plodding Czech piece called "The Cow," which lays out the relentlessly depressing story of poor Adam, crippled son of a prostitute, who tries to eke out a living in the high mountains.

Sisyphus had nothing on this kid. Each day after working in a coal mine, he loads up his knapsack with dirt to haul up to his farm in hopes of enriching the soil. The film follows his romantic disappointment, brushes with the law and ultimate triumph with a great deal of nearly wordless power. The director is Karel Kachyna, who took on the communists back in 1970 with "The Ear."

The 9:30 film is an epic sci-fi fantasy about rebellion against totalitarian rulers in the post ozone-depletion world, "Half the World." It should have cost $30 million; it looks like it cost about $30. Essentially a gritty student drama, it tries hard and develops a lot of energy with its fanciful but el cheapo effects.

Florian Flicker directs this effort. Godard did it first and better with "Alphaville."

For more information, call the Baltimore Film Forum at (410) 889-1993.

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