The Other Side Of The Street

The beginning of this 2004 Brazilian drama anticipates a paranoid thriller like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window or Suspicion: a 65-year-old divorcee (Fernanda Montenegro), living alone in Rio’s Copacabana and participating in a neighborhood watch, witnesses what appears to be a murder in a flat across the street. Once she gets involved with the suspect, a retired judge, the movie fails to generate much suspense, but that emerges as the real point: writer-director Marcos Bernstein is more interested in how a melodramatic imagination can distort reality, a concept he explores with charm and tact. In Portuguese with subtitles. 98 min. (JR)

Published on 29 Apr 2005 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Interpreter

It’s a bad sign when a sizable portion of a preview audience starts lurching for the exit before the final fade-out. This thriller involving a plot to assassinate a genocidal African dictator has Nicole Kidman in the title role as a UN interpreter and Sean Penn as a Secret Service agent. I suppose the absence of heat between them could be taken as a sign of the movie’s seriousness, but without a spark to ignite the proceedings even the actors’ craft and Sydney Pollack’s direction don’t count for much. Five people worked on the script; if there was ever any inspiration behind it, there isn’t now. PG-13, 128 min. (JR)

Published on 22 Apr 2005 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Girls From Abc

This 2003 Brazilian melodrama is more mainstream than the others I’ve seen by director Carlos Reichenbach (Suburban Angels, Buccaneer Soul, Two Streams), but his visual flair is still very much in evidence. Set in ABCthree suburban outposts that border Sao Paoloit focuses on the racially mixed working class, chiefly the young women who work the looms in a textile factory and the young toughs who hang out in a cafe pool hall. Racist attitudes and efforts to unionize the factory are highlighted, along with bouts of hot sex, violence, and singing and dancing at a local club. In Portuguese with subtitles. 125 min. (JR)

Published on 08 Apr 2005 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Early German Animation

This program includes Lotte Reiniger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed (66 min.), about which Dave Kehr writes, Reiniger was the master (and perhaps the sole practitioner) of an elaborate form of cutout animation in which silhouetted characters perform before filigreed backgrounds. This film, released in 1926 after three years’ work, is her only feature; it is charming, accomplished, and somewhat arcane. Completing the program are Berthold Bartosch’s L’idee (1932), Fernand Leger and Dudley Murphy’s classic Ballet mecanique (1924), the great Oskar Fischinger’s Wax Experiments (1927) and Muratti Marches On (1934), and Walter Ruttmann’s Opus II (1921), Opus III (1924), and Opus IV (1925). 140 min. (JR)

Published on 01 Apr 2005 in Featured Texts, by admin

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