As in Flamenco (1995), Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura places live music and dance in the abstract space of a soundstage, effectively isolating his material (in this case, music by 19th-century composer Isaac Albeniz) from its social and historical roots. The various numbers are named after locations in southern Spain, but despite all the mirrors, shadows, and projections of period photographs, the ambience is decidedly postmodern (some orchestrations reek of cool jazz, while some dance steps suggest Bob Fosse). The most striking effects in this 2005 feature involve fancy lighting on what looks like yards of cellophane and, at the end, a rainstorm. One can certainly enjoy the performances, but only inside a rather sterile spacio-temporal void. 99 min. (JR)

Published on 17 Feb 2006 in Featured Texts, by admin

No Comments >>


Japanese director Mikio Naruse drew on the fiction of Fumiko Hayashi for some of his best features (Late Chrysanthemums, Floating Clouds), and this 1953 drama about a bad marriage begins promisingly with separate disgruntled voice-overs from the wife and husband. But the script, adapted by Toshiro Ide from Hayashi’s novel, fails to dig as deeply into the material as Naruse’s best. (The semiliterate subtitles, with their unsure grasp of English idiom, don’t help.) But this comes from one of Naruse’s richest periods, and the quirky performances by many cast members keep this interesting. In Japanese with subtitles. 89 min. (JR)

Published on 10 Feb 2006 in Featured Texts, by admin

No Comments >>