Salt of the Earth

A rarely screened classic of 1954, the only major American independent feature made by communists. A fiction film about the strike by Mexican-American zinc miners in New Mexico against their Anglo management, informed by feminist attitudes that are quite uncharacteristic of this period, it was inspired by the blacklisting of director Herbert Biberman, screenwriter Michael Wilson (A Place in the Sun), producer and former screenwriter Paul Jarrico, and composer Sol Kaplan, among others. As Jarrico later reasoned, since they’d been drummed out of Hollywood for being subversives, they’d commit a “crime to fit the punishment” by making a subversive film. The results are leftist propaganda of a very high order, powerful and intelligent even when the film registers in spots as naive or dated. Basically kept out of American theaters until 1965, it was widely shown and honored in Europe (it was selected, for instance, as the best film shown in France in 1955), but it has never received the stateside recognition it deserves. If you’ve never seen it, prepare to have your mind blown. A new 35-millimeter print will be shown. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, February 24, 6:00, 443-3737. –Jonathan Rosenbaum

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.

Published on 23 Feb 1996 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Mindless Kicks [RUMBLE IN THE BRONX & BROKEN ARROW]

Please go to

http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1996/02/mindless-kicks/

Published on 23 Feb 1996 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Bottle Rocket

A fresh, character-driven, often funny, and unfashionably upbeat (as well as offbeat) first feature by Wes Anderson, this film–written by one of the lead actors (Owen C. Wilson) in collaboration with Anderson–focuses on three young and immature male friends and aspiring thieves in Texas. Two of Wilson’s brothers, Luke and Andrew, also act in the film, the former playing another of the leads; the third friend is played by Robert Musgrave, and Like Water for Chocolate’s Lumi Cavazos and Hollywood veteran James Caan also play significant roles. The film has all the benefits that come from a relaxed cast largely consisting of friends, and the presence of such producers/godparents as Polly Platt, James L. Brooks, and L.M. Kit Carson probably helps as well. This isn’t a movie that beats you over the head, which in industry terms may make it a hard sell, but I found its Kerouac-like goofiness both charming and sustaining. Pipers Alley, Evanston. –Jonathan Rosenbaum

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.

Published on 23 Feb 1996 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Rumble In The Bronx

A mainly routine Hong Kong action film from fleet and floppy-haired action hero Jackie Chanthe number-one box-office hit in mainland China in 1995, released here the following year. It’s light on plot and character, but the stunts are well staged: Chan plays a Hong Kong cop vacationing in New York who tangles with street gangs. This was mainly shot in Vancouver and looks it. Directed by Stanley Tong from a script by Edward Tang and Fibe Ma. 89 min. (JR)

Published on 20 Feb 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Before And After

The brutally mauled corpse of a teenage girl is found in a small Massachusetts town, and all the evidence seems to point to her boyfriend (Edward Furlong), the son of a local pediatrician (Meryl Streep) and sculptor (Liam Neeson) who has mysteriously disappeared. The father decides to suppress evidence before he even knows what happened. Adapted by Ted Tally (The Silence of the Lambs) from Rosellen Brown’s best-selling novel, and very well directed by Barbet Schroeder, this movie becomes an absorbing meditation on the separate claims made by family loyalty and social responsibility that both divide and unite the family (which also has a young daughter, played by Julia Weldon, who serves as narrator). Curiously, we are never told why the girl’s corpse is so badly disfigured, though everything else gets explained. Over the course of exploring this troubling all-American subject, the filmmakers do a fine job of fleshing out the major characters (I especially liked Alfred Molina as the son’s defense lawyer), and the New England locations are beautifully integrated. With Daniel Von Bargen, John Heard, Ann Magnuson, and Kaiulani Lee. (JR)

Published on 20 Feb 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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