How to Capture an Artist [SYLVIA & IN THE MIRROR OF MAYA DEREN]

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http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/2003/10/how-to-capture-an-artist/

Published on 31 Oct 2003 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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In The Cut

One can easily pick apart this Jane Campion adaptation of a thriller by Susanna Moore: it isn’t very satisfying as a thriller, and certain detailslike the heroine assigning Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse to her inner-city high school studentscome across as just plain silly. But I still consider this the best (which also means the sexiest) Campion feature since The Piano, featuring Meg Ryan’s finest performance to date and an impressive one by Mark Ruffalo. Scripted by Moore and Campion, it takes on the unfashionable question of what sex means for a single woman drifting into middle age, and what it says on the subject veers from the obvious to the novel. Campion is better with moods than with plot, and her capable handling of some actors (including Jennifer Jason Leigh and an uncredited Kevin Bacon) ameliorates the hyperbolic characters they’re asked to play. R, 118 min. (JR)

Published on 31 Oct 2003 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Emerald Cowboy

Eishy Hayata, a Japanese emigre to Colombia, wrote and executive-produced this vanity film celebrating his violent exploits from the 1970s onward in establishing the Colombian emerald trade. He also plays himself (rather woodenly) in the present, while casting handsome Luis Velasco as his younger self and allowing Andrew Molina credit as producer-director. Shot on location in Colombia, this begins as a western but eventually mutates into an industrial thriller, with left-wing guerillas and union workers as the bad guys. I assume Hayata

Published on 31 Oct 2003 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Sometimes the best photojournalism comes from being in the right place at the right time, which is certainly true of this lucid and gripping on-location account of the 2002 coup d’etat in Venezuela, instigated by oil barons (with the alleged support of the CIA), that toppled the democratically elected socialistic government of Hugo Chavez for 48 breathless hours. The role of the state-operated TV channel versus the more popular channels controlled by oil interests proved to be pivotal, and this part of the story alone makes the film well worth seeing. Directed by Kim Bartley and Donnache O’Briain of Ireland, this proves that the best documentaries currently outshine Hollywood features as the most watchable, energizing, and relevant movies around. In English and subtitled Spanish. 74 min. (JR)

Published on 31 Oct 2003 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Queering Film History

A program of four experimental films and, judging from the three I’ve seen, a first-rate onethough one shouldn’t conclude from the title that gender and sexual orientation are the only concerns here. Martin Arnold’s Piece Touchee (1989, 15 min.), Passage a l’Acte (1993, 12 min.), and Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy (1998, 15 min.) are all elaborate manipulations of brief sequences from black-and-white Hollywood features (The Concrete Jungle, To Kill a Mockingbird, and one or more of the Andy Hardy pictures with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland respectively) that make them register as exceptionally weird and deranged. Abigail Child’s 56-minute Is This What You Were Born For? (1987), which I haven’t seen, also makes use of found footage. (JR)

Published on 31 Oct 2003 in Featured Texts, by admin

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