The Baltimore Film Forum, ever a font for amusing cinematic diversions, has come up with a nifty film series for this month. Called "Festival Redux," it's a look at four films that were big on the film festival circuit this year, but for some reason or other unavailable for the Forum's own April festival.
That's the reasoning behind the series, but forget that; the result is four first-run art films of great potential, which won't be released commercially for some months yet.
The first, which screens at 8 tonight at the Baltimore Museum of Art, is "Through the Olive Trees," which happens to be the first Iranian entry into the Academy Awards since the Islamic revolution. It's a whimsical account of what happens when a film crew comes to an earthquake-shattered village to document the destruction, but itself becomes the center of village attention. Romantic entanglements follow. It was directed by Abbas Kiarostami and is said to be reminiscent of Fellini's "8 1/2 " and Truffaut's "Day for Night."
Next Friday, Sept. 15, the entry is "Blue in the Face," a must-see for those who loved the Wayne Wang-Paul Auster collaboration, "Smoke." This is a continuation of "Smoke," or rather an alternative riff on some of the same themes, set again in Auggie Wren's Brooklyn tobacco shop, and Auggie is the same Harvey Keitel. In this one -- shot in six days at the same time that "Smoke" was shot -- Auggie meets a number of new customers, among them Roseanne, Lily Tomlin, Michael J. Fox and Lou Reed, and together they improvise scenes based on the suggestions of authentic Brooklynites.
"The Four Corners of Nowhere" is screened Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. This is the independent film you'd be hearing and talking about if you weren't hearing and talking about "The Brothers McMullen." Written and directed by Steve Chbosky, it sends up Gen X trendiness with a keen satirical edge. The movie focuses on a group of Gen Xers at Ann Arbor, Mich., and documents what happens to them when an "itinerant everyman philosopher" shows up to challenge the monotony of their lives. It was big at Sundance, and writer-director Chbosky will show up to introduce the film and then discuss it afterward.
The last film may be the most ambitious. This is "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead," already generating great buzz. Directed by Gary Fleder, it has a tres hip cast including Andy Garcia, Gabrielle Anwar and such dazzlers as Christopher Walken, Christopher Lloyd and Steve Buscemi. A crime caper film, it follows a gang that couldn't rob straight when it tries to get out of Denver after a job falls apart. It's said to be this year's "Pulp Fiction." It screens Sept. 29, at 8 p.m.
For more information, call the Forum at (410) 235-2777.