new york times review (january 1995)
If “Tsahal,” opening today at the Walter Reade Theater, initially seems to admire that toughness unquestioningly, it eventually grows into a thoughtful exegesis of a troubling, complex subject. This film provoked a tear-gas bombing at a Paris movie theater last November, but it isn’t inflammatory on its own merits. Mr. Lanzmann, whose background in philosophy shapes his film making in palpable ways, is more pensive than judgmental. He seeks the essence of Israel’s embattled existence during “46 years of perpetual alarm.” Slowly, doggedly, he arrives at a profound understanding of it by the time “Tsahal” is over.
Continue reading Claude Lanzmann – Tsahal (1994)
Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is a New York City rare-book dealer motivated solely by financial gain. Wealthy book collector Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) hires Corso to authenticate his recently acquired copy of the seventeenth-century author Aristide Torchia’s book The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, reputedly a version of a book whose author was the devil himself. The book contains nine engravings that, when correctly interpreted and the legends properly spoken, will raise the Devil. Since two other copies exist, Balkan suspects that the book might be a forgery, and asks Corso to travel to Europe determine whether his or any of the other two are genuine and, if so, to acquire them for Balkan, at any cost or by any means. Continue reading Roman Polanski – The Ninth Gate (1999)
Plot description :
A prim and proper British couple, Fiona (Thomas) and Nigel (Grant), are on a Mediterranean cruise ship to Istanbul, en route to India. They encounter another couple on the ship, the seductive Frenchwoman Mimi (Seigner) and her paraplegic American husband Oscar (Coyote), a failed and self-centered writer.
The story unfolds as Oscar invites Nigel to his cabin, where he recalls, in a series of episodes, how he and the much younger Mimi met on a bus in Paris and fell in love; and then how their relationship went horribly wrong. Continue reading Roman Polanski – Bitter Moon (1992)
Ο Ηρακλής, ο Αχελώος και η γιαγιά μου
Dimitra Koutsiabassakos is 88 years old and lives alone in the village of Armatoliko in the Pindos mountain range, on the banks of the ancient river Acheloos, named after the mythical river god who fought Heracles for the favors of a woman and who could take on many forms. Dimitra’s home is located near the place where a great dam is being built and lies right in the middle of the area destined to become a lake after construction is completed. By a strange quirk of fate, the materials used in the construction of the dam are a product of a cement company named “Heracles”, so that it seems that the age-old contest between Acheloos and Heracles continues to the present day! Dimitris, Costas and Petros decide to pay their grandmother a visit and make a documentary.
Continue reading Dimitris Koutsiabasakos – O Iraklis, o Aheloos kai i giagia mou AKA Hercules, Acheloos and my Granny (1999)
The Silence (Sokhout), a startlingly fresh and elegant work, is about a ten-year-old boy, Khorshid, who is blind. Khorshid’s father, in Russia, has abandoned him and his mother, who in order to sustain their existence fishes in the river on which the rural dwelling that includes their threadbare apartment is situated. This woman has no other choice but to rely on Khorshid’s meager income for rent. It is not enough, however, and in a few days’ time they will be evicted by the landlord, a greedy, powerful presence whom we never see except for, once, as a hand knocking at the door. A strange, elliptical film of haunting, limpid visual beauty, The Silence ends with two events: the eviction, as the mother, who is calling for her son, and her one great possession, a wall mirror, symbolic for art and inspiration, that is, humanity’s spirit, are rowed across the river, the mirror’s reflection in the water symbolically linking human spirituality and Nature; and the boy, as usual off on his own, passing forever into a life of the imagination in which he is able to orchestrate sounds in his environment—to which his blindness has made him acutely sensitive and receptive—into a finished piece, one in fact familiar to us as the opening movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Only a fool could miss the social and political implications of such a film, and the government, not at all fooled in this regard, responded brusquely. The Silence was banned in Iran. Continue reading Mohsen Makhmalbaf – Sokout AKA The Silence (1998)
Venus, the Roman goddess of love, visits present day Budapest to strengthen intimate relationships between men and women. Continue reading Christoph Clark – L’amour de Laure AKA The Loves of Laure (1996)
The hero of Alfonso Cuarón’s “Sólo Con Tu Pareja” is Tomás Tomás (Daniel Giménez Cacho), a young man living alone in a roomy Mexico City apartment with a tedious job writing advertising copy and a hyperactive romantic life. Apparently and perhaps not quite plausibly irresistible to women, he is also unable to resist them, which is believable enough, since the women in this movie favor garter belts, half-slips and other kinds of retro-sexy lingerie, which they seem happy to display, or to remove, in Tomás’s presence.
Mr. Cuarón made this film, his first feature, 15 years ago, before departing Mexico for Hollywood and making “A Little Princess” and “Great Expectations,” returning home for “Y Tu Mamá También” and then coming back to direct “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”
This zigzagging has made him an intriguing and in some ways exemplary figure in contemporary world cinema, and the movies themselves show remarkable exuberance and versatility. All of which partly justifies the belated release (simultaneously in theaters and on DVD) of “Sólo Con Tu Pareja,” a lively calling card from a young, ambitious director working with limited funds and a screenplay he wrote with his brother Carlos. Continue reading Alfonso Cuarón – Sólo con tu pareja AKA Love in the Time of Hysteria [+Extras] (1991)