AFI FILM FEST: A WINDOW ON SOME FAR SHORES : THURSDAY

"Man Looking Southeast" ("Hombre Mirando al Sudeste"; Argentina, 1986, 9:30 p.m.). A prize-winner at the Toronto Festival, this brilliantly unsettling and hypnotic film concerns the mysterious Rantes, a young, compelling mental patient who claims to be from another planet. Highly intelligent and asking not to be cured but to be understood, he sways his doctor's skepticism and our own as director/writer Subliela goes beyond a Christ and Pontius Pilate metaphor to raise fundamental philosophical questions about our place in the universe. Rantes becomes as powerful, vulnerable and poignant a hero as David Bowie in "The Man Who Fell to Earth" or Michael Rennie in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," in an Tarkovsky-like atmosphere by this important director new to North Americans. Recommended.

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