Remaking History [on SHULIE]

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http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1998/11/remaking-history/

Published on 20 Nov 1998 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Lives of Performers

Of all Yvonne Rainer’s films, this 1972 first feature most clearly bridges her formidable career as an avant-garde dancer and choreographer and her subsequent work as an experimental filmmaker. Its 14 fiction and nonfiction episodes chronicle and/or comment on Rainer’s performances, using sound and intertitles in various inventive and unorthodox ways and concentrating on issues of power and gender that culminate in a reenactment of the movie stills that illustrate the published screenplay of Pandora’s Box, the silent G.W. Pabst film starring Louise Brooks. Rainer’s dry vernacular humor is also much in evidence, bouncing off her feminism: “Well you know, Shirley, that I have always had a weakness for the sweeping revelations of great men.” Shot in ravishing black and white by Babette Mangolte; Rainer will attend the screening. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, November 20, 6:00, 312-443-3737. –Jonathan Rosenbaum

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

Published on 20 Nov 1998 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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A Simple Plan

Sam Raimi’s provocative, in some ways rewarding, but ultimately disappointing attempt to make a mainstream art film (1998) harks back to Erich von Stroheim’s Greed in terms of story material. The characters of Scott B. Smith’s novel, which he’s adapted for the screen, receive an unexpected windfall and their lives are destroyed by it. It’s a suggestive premise, but Raimi and Smith lack the focus of a Stroheim or a Frank Norris (Stroheim’s source for Greed) to work out precisely what’s being suggested. The script dawdles, and in spite of a good castBill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton (who’s especially resourceful), Bridget Fonda, and Brent Briscoethe movie tends to amble around its points rather than drive straight toward the heart of the matter. It’s still a better-than-average melodrama with thriller elements, and it uses its remote midwestern setting almost as well as its actors, but don’t expect a fully achieved work. R, 121 min. (JR)

Published on 18 Nov 1998 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Inheritors

An exciting and visually beautiful 1997 period film from Austria by writer-director Stefan Ruzowitzky, set in a farming village after World War I. A tyrannical farmer is found murdered, and in his spiteful will he leaves all his holdings to his peasants. A rival farmer tries to buy the farm at a discount, but the peasants rebel and decide to run the place themselves. An enormous number of ideas get played out in this bucolic mystery-action-comedy-drama–about class, collectivity, bigotry, and independence–but Ruzowitzky makes it work dramatically as well as intellectually; with some justice he calls the film an Alpine western, and his sense of place and landscape is especially sharp. Fine Arts. –Jonathan Rosenbaum

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

Published on 13 Nov 1998 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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