The 1994 Asia-Pacific Film Tour: Best of the Hawai'i International Film Festival continues at 5 tonight at USC's Norris Theater with the captivating "Southern Winds," an anthology film to which four notable filmmakers have contributed beautifully articulated, well-matched vignettes.
Indeed, two of the four contrast the corrupt life of the big city with the hard but decent rural existence: Slamet Rahardo Djarot's "Mirage" presents Jakarta as a merciless, glittering snare for a young woman from the country, whereas Cherd Songsri's "The Tree of Life" finds a Bangkok construction tycoon returning to his native countryside to draw strength from his roots to face impending bankruptcy.
Mike De Leon's dark satire "Aliwan Paradise" takes its title from a Manila movie palace where the "Ministry of Entertainment," established to divert the masses from social ills, tempts a stunning-looking but impoverished young couple who've come to audition; De Leon's clever twist protests the degradation Filipinos face just as much in the country as in the city.
The most assured and inspired episode of all is Shoji Kogami's sharp fantasy, "Tokyo Game," in which a bored retired office worker, via a virtual reality video game, gets to fulfill his greatest desire, which is to relive his life as a salaried man. But in the present-day business world he discovers his fanatic workaholism is disastrously out of style.
Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf's "The Cyclist" (Tuesday at 5 p.m.) is a joltingly well-told tale, with endless social, economic and political implications, about an Afghan immigrant so desperate to pay for his wife's hospital care that he agrees to ride a bike for seven days, his marathon provoking much lucrative gambling for its promoter.
It will be followed at 7:30 by Xie Fei's stunning feminist work, "Women From the Lake of Scented Souls," about a rural entrepreneur who runs a sesame oil mill while coping with an alcoholic husband and trying to marry off a retarded son.
"Spotlight on Hawaii," on Thursday and Friday starting at 6 p.m., is composed of videos dealing with some aspect of Hawaiian culture and history and the attempt by the dwindling native population to reclaim and preserve its lands and heritage.
The strongest is Puhipau and Joan Lander's "Act of War" (Friday at 8 p.m.) is a stirring, rigorous, step-by-step account of the U.S. invasion of Hawaii and overthrow of its monarchy in 1893, which reveals this outrage to be the culmination of the white man's systematic--not to mention racist and hugely hypocritical--exploitation, oppression and decimation of native Hawaiians and their culture that got under way the instant Captain Cook dropped anchor in 1788.
Information: (213) 743-1426.
Boetticher Tribute: In the American Cinematheque's tribute this weekend at the Directors Guild to director Budd Boetticher don't overlook the two delightful segments of the television show "Maverick" screening Saturday at 4:15 p.m.
The first, the series' pilot episode, finds James Garner's cocky but do-gooding drifter taking on a crooked silver baron (Edmund Lowe); in the second, a woman (Karen Steele) with a past ensnared by a greedy Mike Conners, tries to con a smitten Maverick. Vigorously directed, they are shrewd and witty but are driven by a firm sense of right and wrong. Garner and Boetticher will discuss them afterward.
Also screening are four of Boetticher's fabled Randolph Scott Westerns--three with new 35mm prints--plus his epic bullfighting films, "The Bullfighter and the Lady" (Friday at 7) and "Arruza" (Saturday at 4:15), and his gangster classic "The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond" (Sunday at 3). Boetticher and many of his colleagues will be on hand.
Information: (213) 466-FILM.
Religion's Role: Teodoro Maniaci and Francine Rzeznik's "One Nation Under God" (at the Nuart at noon this Saturday and Sunday only) is a sobering, comprehensive, well-researched and evenhanded account of the attempt by Christian fundamentalist groups--Exodus International in particular--to "cure" homosexuality.
Information: (310) 478-6379.