Bad Blood

The distinctive and unusual talents of French filmmaker Leos Carax have relatively little to do with story telling, and it would be a mistake to approach this, his second feature, with expectations of a “dazzling film noir thriller,” which is how it was described for the Chicago Film Festival last year. Dazzling it certainly is in spots, but the film noir, thriller, and SF trappings–hung around a vaguely paranoid plot about a couple of thieves (Michel Piccoli, Hans Meyer) hiring the son (Denis Lavant) of a recently deceased partner to help steal a cure to an AIDS-like virus–are so feeble and perfunctory that they function at best only as a literal framing device, an artificial means for Carax to tighten his canvas. The real meat of this movie is his total absorption in his two wonderful lead actors, Lavant and Juliette Binoche (The Incredible Lightness of Being), which comes to fruition during a lengthy attempt at the seduction of the latter by the former, an extended nocturnal encounter that the various genre elements serve only to hold in place. The true sources of Carax’s style are neither Truffaut nor Godard but the silent cinema–its poetics of close-ups, gestures, and the mysteries of personality, its melancholy, its silence, and its innocence. Bad Blood uses color with a sense of discovery similar to that found in the morbidly beautiful black and white of Boy Meets Girl, and the rawness of naked emotion and romantic feeling is comparably intense. The tendency of critics to link Carax with the much older Beineix (Diva) and the much callower Besson (Subway) seems misguided, because as Carax points out, “Mauvais sang is a film which loves the cinema, but which doesn’t love the cinema of today.” From the standpoint of a Beineix or a Besson, Bad Blood is jerry-built and self-indulgent; from the standpoint of cinema, it blows them both out of the park. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday and Saturday, October 28 and 29, 6:00 and 8:15, 443-3737)

Published on 28 Oct 1988 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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The Accused

Something of a first, this is a serious movie about rape, and as such might be said to represent penance of a sort for the crude milking of antifeminist sentiments in the previous film of producers Sherry Lansing and Stanley R. Jaffe, Fatal Attraction. Sarah Tobias (Jodie Foster) is gang-raped in a bar, and Deputy District Attorney Katheryn Murphy (Kelly McGillis) agrees to take over her case. A courtroom drama with certain faint echoes of Anatomy of a Murder and the more recent Nuts (the latter of which had the same screenwriter, Tom Topor), this attention-holder explores such issues as the public’s received ideas about rape and the question of ultimate responsibility without ever stacking the deck or being unduly preachy; and director Jonathan Kaplan, who previously gave an edge to Over the Edge, guides things along capably. Not a brilliant film, but an intelligent and thoughtful one that builds to an effective climax, with an exceptional performance by Foster. (Evergreen, Hillside Square, Webster Place, Old Orchard, Norridge, Hyde Park, Forest Park, Woodfield, Water Tower, River Oaks, Plaza, Orland Square, Ridge)

Published on 14 Oct 1988 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Muddled Americans [TRACK 29]

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http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1988/10/muddled-americans/

Published on 14 Oct 1988 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Someone to Love

Henry Jaglom’s latest let-it-all-hang-out gabfest, this one set in a beautiful, about-to-be-destroyed Los Angeles theater, where Jaglom invites his friends on Valentine’s Day. It certainly has its moments–most of them provided by Orson Welles (in one of his last extended film performances), his vivacious long-time companion Oja Kodar, and the venerable Sally Kellerman–but most of this largely improvised movie, as critic Elliott Stein has pointed out, is pretty much the equivalent of the Donahue show, with all the strengths and limitations that this implies, and Jaglom’s own earnest inquiries about what makes so many people lonely can get a bit cloying after awhile. However, Welles, as the equivalent of a talk-show guest, is very much in his prime, and his ruminations about feminism, loneliness, drama, and related subjects certainly give the proceedings an edge and a direction that most of the remainder of this floundering movie sadly lacks. Among the other participants in this encounter session are Jaglom’s brother Michael Emil, Andrea Marcovicci, Ronee Blakley, and Monte Hellman. A Chicago premiere (1987). (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday through Sunday, October 7 through 9, 6:00 and 8:00, 443-3737)

Published on 07 Oct 1988 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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