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Picks by Richard von Busack

La Grande Bouffe (1973)
Sept. 24-30 at the Roxie

Deciding to eat themselves to death, four well-off middle-aged men meet at a chateau to devour gourmet meals and consort with whores. They begin as epicures and end up as pigs at a trough. Marco Ferreri's comedy is one of the grimiest movies of the decade, but it is basically joking and affable. It is not a stern, moralistic condemnation of gluttony, like movies that came afterward, particularly The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. Stars Marcello Mastroianni, Ugo Tognazzi, Michel Piccoli and Philippe Noiret.

Out of This World Sci-Fi Festival
Sept. 15-26 at the Red Vic Theater

Highlight: Trekkies (Sept. 19). Roger Nygard's documentary about the most slavish of Star Trek fans contains moments that test your ability to resist dying of embarrassment. Interviewees include a guy who translated Hamlet into Klingonese (wouldn't the Klingons have preferred Titus Andronicus?) and a "filk" singer who has written tender ballads about the might of Capt. Kirk. Also: Slaughterhouse Five (Sept. 21), George Roy Hill's pretty good 1972 film version of Kurt Vonnegut's novel. It's the story of an alien-abducted ophthalmologist who lives out two different lives: as a denizen of an outer-space zoo, in captivity with a bosomy porn star named Montana Wildhack (Valerie Perrine), and as a survivor of a terrible Allied war crime, the fire-bombing of Dresden during World War II.

The Source
Sept. 17 at the Castro Theater

Chuck Workman, who creates the film montages that are the high point of any Oscar show, directed this collage/documentary on the history of the Beat generation. Plenty of rare moments are included, among them scenes of Bob Dylan at the grave of Kerouac, and Alfred Hitchcock clowning in chin whiskers and beret. The story of the Beats isn't focused as a moral lesson about the effects of drugs or the corrosiveness of fame. The Source sees the Beats positively, as spirits who changed--and continued to change--the nation. There are cameos by John Turturro, giving a hammy reading of Howl; Dennis Hopper delivering an inspired recitation of some bracingly vicious passages from Burroughs; and Johnny Depp, who seems the perfect actor to play Kerouac, reading the opening of On the Road.

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From the September 13, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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