The Odds Are in Favor at UCI

<i> Mark Chalon Smith is a free-lancer who regularly writes about film for The Times Orange County Edition. </i>

Fellini exposes himself, John Waters gives his version of family values wrapped in polyester, and Stanley Kubrick offers a future drenched in violence. It’s time for UC Irvine’s “Off the Beaten Path” film series.

The 10-movie program begins Friday, April 8, with Fellini’s “8 1/2.” The great director, who died in October after a stroke, often found ways to let us see bits of his own personality through his pictures, and this 1963 release may be his most revealing.

The Italian filmmaker’s alter-ego this go-round is Marcello Mastroianni, playing a movie director at the apex of his career but creatively drained. He turns inward for visions, and Fellini presents a terrain where fantasy and reality merge.

Moving east, the series features Juzo Itami’s “The Funeral” on April 15. Itami, probably best known for the later “Tampopo” and “A Taxing Woman,” takes a spoofing ride through the funeral rites of middle-class Japan in this 1984 picture, his debut.


Zhang Yimou’s “Red Sorghum” is up next, on April 22. The Chinese director of “Raise the Red Lantern” provides a love story set against the rigid conventions of China during the ‘20s. This black comedy was released in 1987.

Ildiko Enyedi’s “My Twentieth Century” screens April 29. The 1989 Hungarian movie follows twin sisters as they strive for personal freedom--one sexual, the other political--at the turn of the century.

American John Waters’ yowling comedy “Polyester” is spotlighted May 6. The 1981 release features Tab Hunter as the owner of a drive-in and transvestite Divine as the harried mom he has a thing for. A 20-minute Buster Keaton short, “One Week,” will also be screened.



The university continues its fascination with Pedro Almodovar (the Spanish director shows up in almost every series) on May 13 with his 1982 picture, “Labyrinth of Passion.” Almodovar, known for “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” and “Law of Desire,” digs into Madrid’s underworld.

Another American oddball, Jim Jarmusch, arrives May 20. “Mystery Train,” released in 1989, follows a couple of Japanese teen-agers on their rock ‘n’ roll pilgrimage to Memphis.

On May 27, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Marriage of Maria Braun” will screen. The 1978 German film focuses on postwar reconstruction as his heroine builds an empire out of Third Reich rubble.

Victor Erice’s “Spirit of the Beehive” is scheduled for June 3. The 1973 Spanish movie uses, of all things, Frankenstein’s monster as the catalyst for a village girl’s awakening sexual identity.

There are monsters in Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” as well. His controversial 1971 film, based on Anthony Burgess’ satiric novel of the same name, closes the series with a bang and a whimper. Malcolm McDowell plays Alex, the ultra-violent king of the Droogs, his gang of toughs rampaging through futuristic London.

What: UC Irvine’s “Off the Beaten Path” film series.

When: Fridays, at 7 and 9 p.m. (except for “8 1/2" and “A Clockwork Orange,” which will screen at 7 and 9:30 p.m.); beginning April 8 and ending June 10.

Where: The UC Irvine Student Center Crystal Cove Auditorium.


Whereabouts: Take the San Diego (405) Freeway to Jamboree Road and head south to Campus Drive and take a left. Turn right on Bridge Road and take it into the campus.

Wherewithal: $2 to $4.

Where to call: (714) 856-6379.