Open Doors

Festooned with European prizes and an Academy Award nomination, this solid, well-acted humanist period drama–adapted by director Gianni Amelio and Vincenzo Cerami from a novel by Leonardo Sciascia–makes its points quietly but firmly. In Palermo, Sicily, in 1937, an accountant (Ennio Fantastichini) for the Fascist Confederation of Professionals and Artists, who was recently fired for embezzlement, cold-bloodedly murders his former boss, the accountant who replaced him, and his wife (after raping her). He makes no effort to resist arrest or defend himself and expects to be executed by a firing squad. But one of the judges (Gian Maria Volonte), a pensive widower opposed to the death penalty, insists on drawing out the trial and finding a way to save the killer, despite the opposition of the chief magistrate and all the other judges but one, a farmer (Renato Carpentieri). There are few fireworks in this courtroom drama, but the film acquires a genuine sense of mass and moral weight as it develops (1990). (Music Box, Friday through Thursday, July 19 through 25)

Published on 19 Jul 1991 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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The Wild One

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http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1991/07/the-wild-one/

Published on 08 Jul 1991 in Notes, by jrosenbaum

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Smart Weapons [TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY]

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http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1991/07/smart-weapons/

Published on 05 Jul 1991 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Daughters Of The Dust

Julie Dash’s first feature (1991), set in the islands along the south Atlantic coast of the U.S. sometime around 1900. A group of black women, carrying on ancient African traditions and beliefs as part of an extended family preparing to migrate north, confront the issue of what to bring with them and what to leave behind. Lyrically distended in its folkloric meditations, with striking use of slow and slurred motion in certain interludes, this doesn’t make much use of drama or narrative, and the musical score and performances occasionally seem at war with the period ambience. But the resources of the beautiful locations are exploited to the utmost, and Dash can be credited with an original, daring, and sincere conception. With Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers, Adisa Anderson, Kaycee Moore, and Barbara-O. 114 min. (JR)

Published on 01 Jul 1991 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Sunset

Apart from James Garner, who always seems to shine more in writer-director Blake Edwards’s contraptions than anywhere else, everyone from Bruce Willis, Mariel Hemingway, and Malcolm McDowell (with an indeterminate accent) to Kathleen Quinlan, Jennifer Edwards, and Joe Dallesandro seems to be at sea in this curious movie set in Hollywood in the late 20s. Garner plays Wyatt Earp, hired as a technical adviser on a film in which Tom Mix (Willis) stars; the two of them get involved in uncovering the murderer of a prostitute in a tale that is not quite a comedy, or a murder mystery, or a crime thriller, or an expose of Hollywood slime, but manages to make half-hearted stabs in all these directions. Period flavor and authenticity seem almost nonexistent, and whatever Edwards had in mind, he appears to have kept it mainly to himself; Rod Amateau wrote the original story, so maybe he knows. (JR)

Published on 01 Jul 1991 in Featured Texts, by admin

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