Used People

Shirley MacLaine plays a Jewish widow with two unhappy daughters (Kathy Bates and Marcia Gay Harden) who’s wooed by an Italian widower (Marcello Mastroianni) in Queens in 1969. This delightful, affecting, and offbeat comedy-drama, written by actor Todd Graff (The Abyss, Five Corners) and adapted from his own off-Broadway work, The Grandma Plays, has been directed with verve and sensitivity by Beeban Kidron (Antonia and Jane), who’s done most of her previous work for British TV but seems perfectly at home here. The relatively uncommon virtue on full display here is a sense of character, which also extends to the heroine’s mother (Jessica Tandy), her mother’s best friend (Sylvia Sidney), and one of her grandsons (Matthew Branton), but the filmmakers are no slouches when it comes to period ambience either. This is a good deal less obvious and more original than Moonstruck–one of many reasons why I prefer it. (900 N. Michigan)

Published on 25 Dec 1992 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Tous les matins du monde

Alain Corneau’s highly affecting and absorbing French feature about the legendary 17th-century classical musician and composer Sainte Colombe (Jean-Pierre Marielle) and his pupil Marin Marais (played by both Gerard Depardieu and his son, Guillaume Depardieu), who wound up playing in Lully’s orchestra at the court of Louis XIV by the time he was 20. So little is known about Sainte Colombe that the film virtually invents him as a stubborn, eccentric idealist with two daughters (Anne Brochet and Carole Richert), one of whom becomes involved with Marais. Adapted from Pascal Quignard’s novel of the same title (which means “all the mornings of the world”) by Quignard and Corneau, the film makes very good use of musical pieces by the main characters as well as by Lully, Couperin, and Jordi Savall (who conducts and helps perform the score). Winner of no less than seven Cesars and other prestigious French prizes, this is somewhat better than the middlebrow cultural monuments that usually get awarded such honors; the characters remain fascinating throughout, and the handling of the period is both delicate and highly evocative (1991). (Music Box, Friday, December 25, through Thursday, January 7)

Published on 25 Dec 1992 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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The Crying Game

An adroit piece of story telling from Irish writer-director Nell Jordan (Mona Lisa, The Miracle) that is ultimately less challenging to conventional notions about race and sexuality than it may at first seem. Like other Jordan features, this one centers on an impossible love relationship, and the covert agenda of the plot is to keep it impossible by any means necessary. The theories of literary critic Leslie Fiedler about the concealed and unconsummated lust of the white male for the nonwhite male in such American classics as Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick seem oddly relevant to certain aspects of this tale about an IRA volunteer (Stephen Rea) who assists in the kidnapping of a black British soldier (Forest Whitaker) and subsequently becomes involved with his mulatto lover (Jaye Davidson) in London; the plot, held in place by a parable about a scorpion and a frog that’s filched from Orson Welles’s Mr Arkadin, features a startling twist about halfway through; among the cleverly concealed safety nets that hold this movie’s conceits in place is an implied misogyny that only becomes evident once the story is nearly over. Still, this thriller gives you an entertaining run for your money and some offbeat frissons along the way. With Miranda Richardson (somewhat limited here by a narrowly conceived part) and Jim Broadbent (the father In Life Is Sweet); the three leads are first rate. (Fine Arts)

Published on 18 Dec 1992 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Hollywood Radical [MALCOLM X]

Please go to

http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1992/12/hollywood-radical/

Published on 11 Dec 1992 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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African Camera: 20 Years of African Cinema

An excellent documentary made in 1983 by Tunisian critic and filmmaker Ferid Boughedir (Halhaouine–Boy of the Terraces, Arabian Camera) that offers an intelligent and useful survey of African cinema. All the major figures are interviewed–including Ousmane Sembene, Souleymane Cisse, Djibril Diop Mambety, Med Hondo, Gaston Kabore, Dikongue Pipa, Safi Faye, Oumarou Ganda, and Ola Balogun. This screening will be accompanied by a lecture by film scholars Virginia Keller and Deborah Tudor. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Tuesday, December 8, 6:00, 443-3737)

Published on 04 Dec 1992 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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