El sur

On the surface, despite the presence of a different fictional source (a story by Adelaida Garcia Morales) and scriptwriter (Jose Luis Lopez Linares), Victor Erice’s second feature seems to bring back some of the haunting obsessions of his first, the wonderful Spirit of the Beehive (1973): the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, the magical spell exerted by movies over childhood, and a little girl’s preoccupation with her father and the past. But as English critic Tim Pulleine has observed, a reference to Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt in El sur (South, 1983) points to an elaborate system of doubling and duplication that underlies the film’s structure as a whole, operating on the level of shots and sequences as well as themes (north and south, father and daughter, real and imaginary). Although this subtle spellbinder ends somewhat abruptly, reportedly because the film’s budget ran out, it seems to form a nearly perfect whole as it is: a brooding tale about an intense father-daughter relationship and the unknowable past, mysterious and resonant, with the poetic ambience of a story by Faulkner. Omero Antonutti (Padre padrone) plays the father; Sonsoles Aranguren is the daughter. (Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday and Saturday, April 29 and 30, 7:00 and 9:00; Sunday, May 1, 5:30 and 7:30; and Monday through Thursday, May 2 through 5, 7:00 and 9:00; 281-4114)

Published on 29 Apr 1988 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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A Thousand Words

Made for the unthinkable sum of $7,000, Paul E. Garstki’s independent black-and-white Chicago-based feature both profits and suffers from its impoverished budget. On the plus side, a largely postdubbed sound track allows the filmmakers to tell parts of the story through the ingenious economical device of using answering-machine messages and imaginary phone conversations offscreen. A thoughtful use of local talent (stage actors John Ellerton, Warren Davis, and Diana Zimmer as the three leads and lots of local independent filmmakers in secondary parts) and locations also makes the best use of William Holst’s somewhat minimalist script, adapted from a story by Garstki. A reclusive art critic hires a young protege, who moonlights as a surveillance photographer, to go to work on a young woman (an odd plot with faint echoes of The Draughtsman’s Contract and Paul Bartel’s The Secret Cinema, without much of the humor connected to either). The main budgetary drawback is the nearly nonexistent social context; the stilted art-world talk generally fails to convince because there isn’t enough of a world in the film to establish it as either parody or the genuine article, and the characters themselves seem at times excessively limited by the exigencies of the plot. The result, then, is uneven but singular–a quirky, rather disturbing little film about voyeurism and loneliness. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, April 16, 6:00 and 8:00, 443-3737)

Published on 15 Apr 1988 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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The South

Victor Erice’s second feature (1983), based on a story by Adelaida Garcia Morales, seems to bring back some of the haunting obsessions of his first, the wonderful The Spirit of the Beehive (1973): the aftermath of the Spanish civil war, the magical spell movies exert over childhood, and a little girl’s preoccupation with her father and the past. This subtle spellbinder ends somewhat abruptly, reportedly because the film’s budget ran out, but it seems to form a nearly perfect whole as it is: a brooding tale with the poetic ambience of a Faulkner story about an intense father-daughter relationship and a mysterious and resonant past. English critic Tim Pulleine has observed that a reference to Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt points to an elaborate system of duplication underlying the film’s structure, seen in shots and sequences as well as themes (north and south, father and daughter, real and imaginary). Omero Antonutti (Padre padrone) plays the father, Sonsoles Aranguren the daughter. (JR)

Published on 01 Apr 1988 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Stars Are Singing

Anna Maria Alberghetti plays a Polish refugee who illegally enters the U.S. and becomes an operatic recording star in this 1952 musical, which also features Rosemary Clooney singing her hit Come on-a My House and the ever-reliable Fred Clark. Reportedly the first film ever released in VistaVision; directed by Norman Taurog.

Published on 01 Apr 1988 in Featured Texts, by admin

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