This decidedly offbeat 1992 French comedy-drama–Confessions d’un barjo in French–from Jerome Boivin (Baxter) is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Confessions of a Crap-Artist, set in contemporary provincial France rather than 50s California but otherwise reportedly fairly close to the original. The central characters are an unconventional pair of fraternal twins who maintain an unusually close bond into adulthood–a sort of dysfunctional holy fool (Hippolyte Giradot) who serves as narrator and his impetuous sister (Cyrano de Bergerac’s Anne Brochet). The sister marries a fairly conventional aluminum salesman (Diva’s Richard Bohringer), and their life together starts to go haywire after she becomes obsessed with another local couple. Expect the unexpected in the interaction of these five characters, and count on some effective performances along the way. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, November 26, 6:00 and 7:45, and Saturday, Sunday, and Thursday, November 27 and 28 and December 2, 6:00, 443-3737.
Sweetie and An Angel at My Table have taught us to expect startling as well as beautiful things from Jane Campion, and this assured and provocative third feature offers yet another lush parable about the perils and paradoxes of female self-expression–albeit one that seems at times a bit more calculated and commercially minded. Set during the last century, this original story by Campion–which evokes at times some of the romantic intensity of Emily Bronte–focuses on a Scottish widow (Holly Hunter) who hasn’t spoken since her childhood, presumably by choice, and whose main form of self-expression is her piano playing. She arrives with her nine-year-old daughter in the New Zealand wilds to enter into an arranged marriage, which gets off to an unhappy start when her husband-to-be (Sam Neill) refuses to transport her piano. A local white man living with the Maori natives (Harvey Keitel) buys the piano from him and, fascinated by and attracted to the mute woman, agrees to “sell” it back to her a key at a time in exchange for lessons, with ultimately traumatic consequences. Not to be missed. Fine Arts, Old Orchard.
This powerful feminist Korean docudrama by Kim Yu-jin (1990) demonstrates yet again the near universality of the injustices suffered by rape victims. In this case the victim is a young housewife and mother (Won Mi-kyung) who bites off the tongue of a man who attacks her one night on the street, only to find herself brought to trial and convicted for injuring him; eventually she files for a second hearing in an attempt to clear her name. Methodically directed and forcefully acted, this is one of the strongest contemporary Korean pictures I’ve seen, lucid and angry in its calm indictment. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, November 20, 8:15, 443-3737.
Director Tony Bill (My Bodyguard, Five Corners, Crazy People, Untamed Hearts) brings a lot of feeling and detail to this sort-of-true-life tale written by executive producer Patrick Duncan. It’s about a single mother (Kathy Bates) with no savings who leaves Los Angeles with her six kids for rural Idaho in 1962, and much of the family’s saga is very moving. (Duncan himself, who actually grew up with 11 siblings, corresponds to the oldest child and narrator here, played by teenager Edward Furlong.) Along the way the film loses some of its conviction; it winds up trying too hard and pushing some of its effects. Even so, the depiction of poverty has plenty of grit and flavor, and the cast–which also includes Soon-Teck Oh and Tony Campisi–does a creditable job. Chestnut Station, Golf Glen.