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Second Chance Theater: The White Ribbon

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 10, 2010 5:20PM

Christian Friedel and Leonie Benesch in "The White Ribbon"
Austere, wintry, ethereal, nerve-wracking: all good adjectives to describe Michael Haneke's Oscar-nominated film The White Ribbon, which returns for a week-long encore presentation starting tomorrow at the Siskel Film Center.

Like many of Haneke's movies (and here's an excellent primer for the uninitiated), the setup is deceptively simple. Seemingly random acts of sabotage begin to plague a small German town in the years shortly before WWI. Who could be causing them? The sullen farm worker, who holds a grudge against the town's wealthiest landowner? The landowner's adulterous wife? The kindly but out-of-place schoolteacher? Unwrapping this mystery is like peeling an onion, albeit a gorgeous onion that rivets your attention even while making your eyes tear up. Christian Berger received last year's top honor at the American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement Awards for his luminous work, capturing some of the most breathtaking images we've ever seen on the big screen. It complements an ascetic storytelling style so meticulously restrained that when the ratcheting tension finally bursts into violence during the movie's second half it takes your breath away.

The White Ribbon screens June 11-16