Monthly Archives: February 1991

Goodbye Columbus

Larry Peerce’s coarsened adaptation of Philip Roth’s early satirical novella about a poor New Jersey Jew (Richard Benjamin) falling in love with the daughter (Ali MacGraw) of an upscale suburban Jewish family. With Jack Klugman, Nan Martin, and Michael Meyers (1969). (JR)… Read more »

The Doors

For people like myself who still regard Woodstock as the great counterculture rock film, it’s depressing to note that most perceptions of the 60s consist of roughly one part Woodstock and 12 parts Gimme Shelter. It’s no surprise, then, that Oliver Stone’s 1991 biopic about rock guru Jim Morrison should give us about 15 minutes of peace and love (if that much) and two hours of puritanical retribution. According to Stone’s script (coauthored by J. Randal Johnson), Morrison (Val Kilmer) was an incoherent asshole with occasionally inspired poetic flashes, and the film’s double-edged celebrations of sex, bimbos, drugs, booze, and rock ‘n’ rollfull of pretentious hallucinations involving Native Americans and fancy visual effectsare laced with familiar evocations of fire and brimstone. Some of the effects are arresting, and apart from some unfortunate attempts to re-create Ed Sullivan, Andy Warhol, and Nico, the movie does a pretty good job with period ambience. But it’s a long haul waiting for the hero to keel over. With Meg Ryan, Kathleen Quinlan, Kyle MacLachlan, Frank Whaley, Kevin Dillon, Michael Wincott, and Michael Madsen. (JR)… Read more »

Days Of ’36

Theo Angelopoulos’s visually striking political thriller focuses on the events that transpire after a trade unionist is assassinated at a rally. A former police informer is arrested for the murder, and he manages to create a governmental crisis by holding a conservative MP as hostage in his prison cell. The film was made under threat of censorship, which, according to Angelopoulos, led him to change the film’s formal structure to emphasize what is unspoken; the attractive use of composition often suggests the work of Antonioni (1972). (JR)… Read more »

Freeze–Die–Come to Life

Vitaly Kanevski spent eight years in a Soviet labor camp on unspecified charges, attended film school, and worked as a production assistant on many films. He based this, his first feature, on his own youth in Siberia during World War II. Made on a minuscule budget, it deservedly won the Camera d’Or for best first film at Cannes in 1990. Many critics have compared it to Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, and despite the grimness of the subject, accentuated by the murky black-and-white photography and the harshness of the setting (a Siberian mining town), Kanevski’s feeling for the boy hero (Pavel Nazarov) and his resourceful female pal (Dinara Drukarova) has a related sensitivity and freshness. The efforts of these children to cope with the horrors around them–the nearby POW camp, the black market, the omnipresent mud and cold–often make them more than simple victims (1990). A Chicago premiere. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, February 2, 4:00, and Sunday and Thursday, February 3 and 7, 7:45, 443-3737) … Read more »