The Son

This potent Belgian feature (2002) by brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne is every bit as good as their La promesse and Rosetta. Unlike them it can’t be described in detail without telegraphing the plot’s carefully structured exposition, but it involves a carpenter and teacher at a vocational workshop (Olivier Gourmet) who takes on a 16-year-old boy as an apprentice, with cataclysmic consequences. Gourmet, who played the hero’s father in La promesse and the heroine’s employer in Rosetta, gives a strong and nuanced performance that deservedly won him the best actor prize at Cannes. The Dardennes’ extremely physical and visceral camera style plunges the viewer into an emotional maelstrom, and their subtle, unpredictable sense of character is predicated not on coercion of the audience but on an extraordinary respect for the viewer as well as the characters. To my knowledge there’s no one else making films with such a sharp sense of contemporary working-class lifebut for the Dardennes it’s only the starting point of a spiritual and profoundly ethical odyssey. In French with subtitles. 103 min. (JR)

Published on 28 Feb 2003 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Cinema Of Horror: Avant-garde Program

Showing as part of the lecture series The Cinema of Horror: Maya Deren’s first film, Meshes of the Afternoon (1943, 18 min.), and four of the most famous short films of Kenneth Anger: Fireworks (1947, 15 min.), Scorpio Rising (1963, 29 min.), Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969, 12 min.), and Lucifer Rising (1980, 29 min.). If you’ve never seen these highly personal and essential works, this should be an excellent introduction. (JR)

Published on 28 Feb 2003 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Black Rain

Not to be confused with the Ridley Scott thriller released the same year, this black-and-white 1989 feature by Shohei Imamura takes on the unpredictable physical and psychological aftereffects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Based on a celebrated novel by Masuji Ibuse, it focuses on a young woman who’s just moved to a village across a wide bay from the city when the bomb falls. Most of the plot unfolds years later, yet Imamura repeatedly returns to the bombing’s immediate aftermath, and one of the more striking of these traumatic and haunting flashbacks is boldly rendered just with sound effects and changes in lighting. Imamura’s style here, for all its inventiveness, is uncharacteristically subdued and sober. Like his last worka devastating episode in the anthology film September 11this is one of the few movies that’s addressed Hiroshima without blinking. In Japanese with subtitles. 123 min. (JR)

Published on 28 Feb 2003 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Cop-Out [DARK BLUE]

Please go to http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/2003/02/cop-out/

Published on 28 Feb 2003 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Black Cat, White Cat

There’s something almost wearying as well as exhilarating about the perpetual brilliance of Bosnian-born filmmaker Emir Kusturica. As with some of Fellini’s late works, the energy and inventiveness, not to mention the juicy vulgarity, are so consistent in Black Cat, White Cat that you feel you can slice into the material at almost any point. In this 129-minute slam-bang farce (1999) about Gypsies living on the Danube and lorded over by two rival patriarchs, there’s plenty to cherish and enjoy (at least if you can put up with all the cynicism), but I was especially impressed by Bajram Severdzan, hilarious as a nouveau riche gangster. In German, Romany, and Serbo-Croatian with subtitles. (JR)

Published on 21 Feb 2003 in Featured Texts, by admin

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