SIFF Encounters: L'Auberge Espagnole and Camp

L'Auberge Espagnole

6:30 p.m. Fri., May 23 at Pacific Place 1:45 p.m. Sun., May 25 at Pacific Place

In its average moments, this pleasantly diverting film is like Friends with subtitles, as a pan-European band of students bicker, bond, drink, and shag in and around their shared Barcelona apartment. In its worst moments, it's an overly digitally tricked-up paean toor commercial forthe new multicultural, multinational E.U., where identities blur and everyone gets along just fabulously. But I prefer to focus on the best, quietest moments of this sunny new effort by C餲ic Klapisch (When the Cat's Away). He's a student of human behavior among these students (including Audrey Tautou in a small supporting role). Lounging in a hammock together, a Belgian lesbian fondly tells our straitlaced French hero (Romain Duris), "It's a shame you're not a girl." He replies wistfully, "The world is badly made." Whatever its shortcomings, no one would say the same about Espagnole, which opens its regular run May 30. (The title roughly translates as "Euro Pudding," sometimes a put-down, but not here.) BRIAN MILLER


6:30 p.m. Fri., May 23 at Egyptian 4 p.m. Sat., May 24 at Egyptian

A bunch of young outcasts (i.e., gay boys and plump girls who worship Stephen Sondheim) get to commiserate in their otherness at a summer theater camp for kids. Writer/debut director Todd Graff and his drowsy editor Myron Kerstein muck up what is intended to be a socko openingjuxtaposing the performance of a soaring spiritual from The Gospel at Colonus with a young drag queen's beating at the hands of his high-school peersand it's all downhill from there. Graf gets a few happy, hearty laughs out of these kids' fearless earnestness (i.e., an ambitious teenage girl with a middle-aged wig belting out Sondheim's boozy, bitter "The Ladies Who Lunch"), but the film's tone is so inconsistent that you don't know whether he knows why it's funnyis this camp or camp? At any given time, the movie ineptly reaches to be Meatballs, Bring It On, and/or a particularly treacly TV After School Special. It's a waste of what could've been a breezy summer vacation. STEVE WIECKING

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