Chump Change

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Wow! After years of misguided, lackluster programming, the AFI Film Festival again seems worthy of both its hometown and Los Angeles' movie-crazed citizens. The man to thank is Christian Gaines, the festival's new programmer. Gaines, who used to run the Hawaii Film Festival and has worked as a programmer at Sundance, clearly understands that the obvious way to rebuild the festival's core audience is to attend to quantity and quality both. The upshot is that, while there are fewer features on tap than in some previous years, the overall programming is far superior. Asterisks denote critics' choice.



Writer-director Stephen Burrows' romantic comedy is built from a series of bits based on Burrows' own bumpy life as an actor and screenwriter. There are clever and, for the most part, genuinely funny riffs on a jock-itch ad, a legal run-in with Merv Griffin, and a transvestite version of Leave it to Beaver. The movie gets a big boost from a crack cast that includes Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, Traci Lords and the inimitable Fred Willard, and from Burrows' winsome readiness to shine a light on his own humiliations. (Vogue, Mon., Oct. 23, 2000, 9:30 p.m.; & Egyptian 1, Wed., Oct 25, 2000, 11 a.m.) (H-DD)

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