Short takes: SFIFF week one

You're Next, Rosie, The Kill Team, The Patience Stone, and more reviews of film fest features

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The Patience Stone

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

April 25-May 9, most shows $10-15

Various venues

festival.sffs.org

The Artist and the Model (Fernando Trueba, Spain, 2012) The horror of the blank page, the raw sensuality of marble, and the fresh-meat attraction of a new model — just a few of the starting points for this thoughtful narrative about an elderly sculptor finding and shaping his possibly finest and final muse. Bedraggled and homeless beauty Mercè (Aida Folch) washes up in a small French town in the waning days of World War II and is taken in by a kindly woman (Claudia Cardinale), who seems intent on pleasantly pimping her out as a nude model to her artist husband (Jean Rochefort). As his former model, she knows Mercè has the type of body he likes — and that she's capable of restoring his powers, in more ways than one, if you know what I mean. Yet this film by Fernando Trueba (1992's Belle Époque) isn't that kind of movie, with those kinds of models, especially when Mercè turns out to have more on her mind than mere pleasure. Done up in a lustrous, sunlit black and white that recalls 1957's Wild Strawberries, The Artist and the Model instead offers a steady, respectful, and loving peek into a process, and unique relationship, with just a touch of poetry. Fri/26, 1pm, and Sun/28, 6:30pm, Kabuki. (Kimberly Chun)

The Daughter (Alexander Kasatkin and Natalia Nazarova, Russia, 2012) Imagine a serial-killer tale as directed by Tarkovsky and you'll get an idea of this fascinating, ambiguous Russian drama by co-directors Aleksandr Kasatkin and Natalia Nazarova. Someone is murdering teenage girls in what otherwise seems a tranquil village backwater. That's one reason the almost painfully naïve Inna (Maria Smolnikova) is kept on a fairly tight leash by her gruff, conservative widower father (Oleg Tkachev), who expects her to perform all housekeeper duties and mind a little brother. When brash, borderline-trashy new schoolmate Marta (Yana Osipova) surprisingly decides to make Inna her best friend, she's both a liberating and dangerous influence. Less interested in narrative clarity than issues of morality, spirituality, and guilt (at one point the killer confesses to a priest whose daughter he murdered — tormenting the cleric who is bound to confidentiality), this often-gorgeous feature is a worthy addition to the long line of somber, meditative Russian art films. Fri/26, 6:15pm, and Sun/28, 1pm, Kabuki; May 6, 9pm, PFA. (Dennis Harvey)

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