The Line King:The Al Hirschfeld Story

Recently nominated for an Academy Award, this portrait of the great Broadway caricaturist by Susan Dryfoos is absorbing not only because of his work and milieu, but also because he’s been around so long, from his early career in Hollywood to a period working for New Masses to a long tenure at the New York Times. Still working at 94, he’s seen a lot, and this decade-by-decade account is a very entertaining history lesson. On the same program, Jessica Yu’s Better Late and Martin Murphy’s Adventures of Handyman. Film Center, 4:00. –Jonathan Rosenbaum

Published on 16 May 1997 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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The Eighth Day

My candidate for the most disgusting feature at Cannes in 1996, this French-Belgian film by Jaco van Dormael is shameless. The obvious precedent is Rain Man, but that film’s opportunism hinged on the decision of a famous star, Dustin Hoffman, to play an idiot savant alongside Tom Cruise. Here the recipe consists of casting a star, Daniel Auteuil, alongside a person who really has Down’s syndrome, Pascal Duquenne. The danger of such calculation is that the pseudoreality of the star and the hyperreality of his costar might clash, a possibility cleverly avoided through the use of an expanding magical realism that turns both characters into animated cartoon figures, so that the best reference may be neither Rain Man nor the lachrymose Zorba the Greek but the overblown child’s landscape of the tear-jerking Dumbo. In awarding the actor’s prize jointly to both leads, the Cannes jury took the bait, and the tearful standing ovation in the Palais seemed to express a self-congratulatory recognition that a handicapped person is just as lovable as a movie star, that a movie star is just as real as a handicapped person, and that genuine innocence can’t survive in the worldexcept it does, because this film exploits it. (JR)

Published on 09 May 1997 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Addicted To Love

The girlfriend of a small-town astronomer runs off to New York and shacks up with a French restaurant owner (Tcheky Karyo); her obsessed ex-boyfriend (Matthew Broderick) sets up shop in a nearby condemned building to spy on the couple with astronomical equipmentshortly to be joined by the Frenchman’s jilted lover (Meg Ryan), who decides to bug their conversation as well. There’s too much pain in this light 1997 romantic comedy, physical as well as emotional, for it to come across as funny, though it certainly has its share of offbeat premises, and Ryan’s abrasive and rather creepy character is something of a departure for her. Griffin Dunne directed the script by Robert Gordon; with Kelly Preston and Maureen Stapleton. (JR)

Published on 05 May 1997 in Featured Texts, by admin

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