As ever, IFFBoston is a treasure trove of titles both hotly anticipated and ready to be discovered. We have yet to see such biggies as opening night bombshell “End of the Tour” — with Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace on a road trip with a fawning/nervous journo (Jesse Eisenberg) — or Bobcat Goldthwait’s celebrated doc “Call Me Lucky.” But here are six we can say for sure to pen into your schedule:
‘Heaven Adores You’
Elliott Smith deserves more than a traditional biographical documentary, and he gets one — sort of. A mix of the usual talking heads and a more expressionistic approach, it takes a pile of pages from the experimental “Kurt Cobain About a Son,” often setting interviews with Smith and his friends over top striking footage of Portland, New York and Los Angeles today. Best of all, there’s no hyperbolic praise from fellow musicians or journalists; it’s just his closest friends, creating an intimate — and increasingly harrowing — portrait of the man, not the legend. Fri., Apr 24 7:00 p.m., Brattle Theatre
‘The Look of Silence’
Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow-up to “The Act of Killing” doesn’t have the same audacity, but it’s equally as important. Here, his stars aren’t remorseless Indonesian murderers but the brother of a man castrated and killed by same, who interrogates and attempts to figure out those who did it. Once again the state-sanctioned murderers are essentially emotionally-stunted children, but this one goes the next step in trying to find out what drove them without employing satirical tricks.Sun., Apr 26 6:00 p.m., Brattle Theatre
The latest oddball neo-Western — after “The Salvation,” “The Homesman” and the art film/mindf— “Jauja” — is perched somewhere between a straight-up genre entry and a dreamy, comic lark. Michael Fassbender does fine laconic work as a taciturn badass helping a gawky youngster (Kodi Smitt-McPhee) reunite with his beloved. The pitilessness is matched and tempered by a deadpan absurdist streak, which films the sometimes violent action as black-out sketches told in compositions that seem tightly composed without being stiff. It’s masterly in quiet, weirdly funny ways, and proof that a genre presumed dead has evolved into something rich and strange all over again. Life, as Michael Crichton said, will find a way. Thu., Apr 23 7:15 p.m. and Sat., Apr 25 7:30 p.m., Somerville Theatre
The fest’s most annoying title at least belongs to one of its most dedicated and accomplished films, which goes the distance with “Shariff,” a 60-something FBI informant enlisted in the wake of September 11 to rat out fellow Muslims who may (or may definitely not) be getting in deep with terrorists. A former Black Panther who once looked down on stool pigeons, he’s become a man effectively without a country, including America, which uses him and abuses others, including locking up some of his targets on mere technicalities. Not that “(T)ERROR” is just about fumbled anti-terrorism tactics. It’s a chilling portrait of loneliness, with Shariff forced to live a life filled with subterfuge and faked connections, and all to survive on the most meager of resources. Thu., Apr 23 9:15 p.m. and Mon, Apr 27 9:30 p.m., Somerville Theatre
Cinephilia has gripped few like it has the subjects of this troubling and fascinating doc, which hangs with a legion of ponytailed teenage boys whose parents rarely let them stray outside their LES high-rise. When we say “rarely,” we mean there have been years where they’ve only strayed out once, if that. Indeed, lurking under the funny/endearing recreations of Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan movies (complete with impressive costumes and paper guns) is a portrait of a form of child abuse, made all the more disturbing for being largely suggested. Their father skulks about the movie, hiding in the apartment and forcing his sons and wife into a prison-like existence, enduring matters that are likely worse than are shown. When they start escaping one by one into the real world (and at one point just to an actual movie theater) it’s as moving as any tearjerker, but without the histrionics.Tue., Apr 28 9:45 p.m., Coolidge Corner Theatre.
‘World of Tomorrow’
One of the best titles at IFFBoston ’15 is only 15 minutes long, but it’s worth a hundred feature lengths. The latest from stick figure animator Don Hertzfeldt builds off the existential despair of his last film, the feature length “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” depicting a third generation clone from a grim future using time travel to meet her original, four-year-old self. Hertzfeldt has matured since the days of smartass greats like “Billy’s Balloon” and “Rejected,” but in the least boring way possible. His films probe pitilessly into the deep questions of existence. What he finds is not hopeful, but still hilarious, and a salve on the eyes. It’s a beautiful downer that might break and make your day. Fri., Apr 24 9:45 p.m. and Sun., Apr 26 5:45 p.m., Somerville Theatre.
IFFBoston runs through April 29. Visit their website for full list of films, schedules and tickets
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