When Barbet Schroeder released his documentary "General Idi Amin Dada" in 1974, it must have been quite a sensation. Amin gave full cooperation to Schroeder (the documentary carries the subtitle "Self Portrait"), sitting for numerous interviews, stage-managing a series of public appearances in front of adoring crowds, and even scoring the film with his accordion music. Is this joking, amiable "man of the people" the same dictator who put 300,000 people to death between 1971 and 1979? Perhaps it's his anti-Semitic ravings, or his fetish for artillery and military finery, or the aggression that drifts through almost every speech, but there's a schism between the media-managed image and the weirdness and violence churning under his wide smile. Periodic narration strips the façade off a few staged scenes and underscores others with historical background. But apart from the opening footage of a chilling state-sanctioned execution, Schroeder lets the schizophrenic portrait stand on its own: a preening, vain, psychotic clown as aspiring Hitler. It's a curious document, one Amin first embraced, then denounced, but almost 30 years later it isn't enough to answer the questions surrounding this brutal despot. "--Sean Axmaker"