Though in certain respects debatable as an adaptation of the Franz Kafka novel, Orson Welles’s nightmarish, labyrinthine expressionist comedy of 1962–shot mainly in Paris’s abandoned Gare d’Orsay and various locations in Zagreb and Rome after he had to abandon his plan to use sets–remains his creepiest and most disturbing work, and it’s been a lot more influential than people usually admit. (Scorsese’s After Hours, for example, is deeply indebted to it, and arguably the two costume store sequences in Eyes Wide Shut are as well.) Anthony Perkins gives a somewhat adolescent temper to Joseph K, an ambitious corporate bureaucrat mysteriously brought to court for an unspecified crime. Among the predatory females who pursue him are Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, and Elsa Martinelli; Welles himself fills in as the hero’s tyrannical lawyer, and Welles regular Akim Tamiroff is his usual remarkable self as one of the lawyer’s oldest clients. Welles adroitly captures the experience of an unsettling and slightly hysterical dream throughout, and the dovetailing locations, disembodied sound, and dizzying shifts of scale add to the overall disorientation. A newly restored 35-millimeter print will be shown, and given the impact of screen size on what Welles is doing, you can’t claim to have seen this if you’ve watched it only on video. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, February 25, 6:00 and 8:15; Saturday, February 26, 4:00, 6:15, and 8:30; and Sunday, February 27, 3:30 and 6:00; 312-443-3737.
Raul Ruiz’s adaptation of Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past can’t be regarded even remotely as an adequate substitute for the original, even though the director sensibly concentrates on the last of its seven parts. But this 1999 film is still a lot more imaginative and entertaining than one might have thought possible. Ruiz ingeniously tries to convey the transports of Proust’s labyrinthine sentences through camera movement and the displacement of characters and scenery, almost as if he were constructing a theme-park ride. The result isn’t as emotionally potent as one might have wished, but it’s never boring, and its very inadequacy and occasional obscurity are part of its charm. Ruiz and Gilles Taurand wrote the script. With Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Beart, Vincent Perez, Pascal Greggory, Marie-France Pisier, Chiara Mastroianni, Marcello Mazzarella as Proust, and John Malkovich as the eccentric gay artistocrat Charlus. In French with subtitles. 165 min. (JR)
A brisk and breezy if formulaic comedy-thriller from Japan about a shy car-rental employee (Masanobu Ando) and an equally timid nurse (Hikari Ishida) thrown together while fleeing with a lot of yen from yakuza thugs. Most of the thugs are amusingly played by the half-dozen members of a comedy troupe called Jovi Jova, and writer-director Shinobu Yaguchi seems to have as much fun standardizing their bumbling goofiness as he does standardizing the meekness of his hero and heroine. As disposable fun, this 1999 feature is every bit as enjoyable and forgettable as most Hollywood equivalents. In Japanese with subtitles. 112 min. (JR)