It’s all the more grotesque because of its evident sincerity. This misguided Hollywood remake of Wim Wenders’s 1988 Wings of Desire, said to be the swan song of the late Columbia Pictures president Dawn Steel, is about angels in Los Angeles watching over human lives; one of them (Nicolas Cage) falls in love with a heart surgeon (Meg Ryan) and decides to become human. Wenders’s angels were derived from the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke; the only literary reference this film makes is to Hemingway’s mean-spirited memoir A Moveable Feast, which is celebrated here for its sensual descriptions of taste. If you’ve never seen the lovely Wenders film, maybe you’ll be charmed by this low-grade variation, all of whose best qualitiessuch as the airy crane shots poised over city vistas and freewayscan be traced back to the original; otherwise you might run screaming from the theater. (Reportedly the film made more sense before some of the actors decided to improve the script with their own dialogue.) Directed by Brad Silberling (Casper) from a script by Dana Stevens (Blink); with Dennis Franz and Andre Braugher. (JR)
Though scoffed at by some professional Jews, writer-director Boaz Yakin
Chronicle of a Disappearance
Palestinian independent Elia Suleiman returned to Nazareth after many years in New York to make this 1996 first feature, an intriguing, highly sophisticated, and often very funny combination of fiction, documentary, diary, essay, and home movie. Armed with irony, absurdist humor, and a handsome visual style, Suleiman offers a surprisingly comprehensive portrait of middle-class Palestinian life in Israel and a complex understanding of Arab identity within that world that encompasses both family and friends. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, March 28, 4:00, and Sunday, March 29, 2:00 and 6:00, 312-443-3737.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.
Reflecting on the death of his beloved grandfather (Robert Loggia), a fifth-grader (Joseph Cross) in a Catholic school experiences a crisis of faith. Though I wouldn’t call this comedy-drama especially memorable, it can at least be lauded for its sincerity. The actorswho also include Denis Leary, Dana Delany, Timothy Reifsynder, and Rosie O’Donnellall do respectable jobs. Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. (JR)