PETER Greenaway's A Zed and Two Noughts returns to the Hirshhorn Friday at 8. Understanding this cinematic conundrum may be more of a chore than sheer marveling at Greenaway's visually brilliant and perplexing film. "Zed" revels in symmetry: Two women die in a car crash. They're both married to former Siamese twins and zoologists Oswald and Oliver (played by brothers Eric and Brian Deacon). The accident was caused by a low-flying swan on a street called Swan's Way. The car was a Mercury and the driver was carrying a bottle of mercury. And so on. "Zed" is dedicated to the Brothers Quay, who made the richly animated Street of Crocodiles. Admission at the Hirshhorn auditorium is free.
Sunday, the Baltimore Museum of Art will screen Soviet films My Friend Ivan Lapshin and Blue Mountains. "Mountains" is a story of a young writer whose manuscript must clear incredible bureaucratic hurdles at a publishing house. And "Ivan's" release, like "Scarecrow" (opening at the Biograph Friday), was delayed. It's a story about the 1930s -- the period of Stalinist terror traditionally skirted by artists and historians in the Soviet Union. But according to Variety, the story barely touches upon political themes and is rather an omniscient portrait of the town and of Ivan, head of criminal investigations, who takes revenge on a rival suitor. "Mountains" plays at 5 and "Ivan" at 7. And admission is $4.
Manon of the Spring, the lush follow-up to Claude Berri's Jean de Florette, will open commercially December 23 at the Key Theater. Friday at 7:20, the Key (also showing "Jean") is offering a sneak preview; $5.
Continuing with the Andrei Tarkovsky series, the National Gallery of Art will show the Soviet filmmaker's Solaris Saturday (at 2) and Sunday (at 6). Admission at the East Building auditorium is free.
The American Film Institute will show its first "American Independents Film Festival," through November 27. Friday at 6:30, it kicks off with Carole Langer's Radium City, a documentary about the women workers in Ottawa, Illinois, who developed cancer working directly with radium for the Radium Dial Company. "Radium" is followed at 9 by Mark Rezyka's comedy, South of Reno, about a desert loner in search of perfect TV reception. Langer will attend the screening. The other films (13 all together) include Allison Anders' Border Radio (Saturday, 8:15), described as a dark comedy about rock musicians on the run in underground L.A. clubs and Janet Forman's The Beat Generation -- An American Dream (Sunday at 6; Forman is expected to attend). And on Monday (at 9:45), you can see Lilyan Sievernich's documentary John Huston and the Dubliners, about the late director on the set of his last movie, The Dead. AFI admission is $4.50, $3.50 for members. Call 785-4600.
You read right. The Jenifer theater has joined the local Circle theater chain. It's going to be revamped -- new seats, new screens, new concession area, with 70- and 35-millimeter projection. "We're going to completely ace that house," says Circle's promo director Freeman Fisher. "We've always felt it's been a good house, we can really push it to its maximum." Look for a new name too; no clues on that yet. Circle will try not to close the theater during the revamp, and hopes to have everything done by February. Circle's new Shirlington and Dupont Circle theaters will open just before Christmas.