Daily Archives: December 25, 1992

Used People

Shirley MacLaine plays a Jewish widow with two unhappy daughters (Kathy Bates and Marcia Gay Harden) who’s wooed by an Italian widower (Marcello Mastroianni) in Queens in 1969. This delightful, affecting, and offbeat comedy-drama, written by actor Todd Graff (The Abyss, Five Corners) and adapted from his own off-Broadway work, The Grandma Plays, has been directed with verve and sensitivity by Beeban Kidron (Antonia and Jane), who’s done most of her previous work for British TV but seems perfectly at home here. The relatively uncommon virtue on full display here is a sense of character, which also extends to the heroine’s mother (Jessica Tandy), her mother’s best friend (Sylvia Sidney), and one of her grandsons (Matthew Branton), but the filmmakers are no slouches when it comes to period ambience either. This is a good deal less obvious and more original than Moonstruck–one of many reasons why I prefer it. (900 N. Michigan) Read more

Tous les matins du monde

Alain Corneau’s highly affecting and absorbing French feature about the legendary 17th-century classical musician and composer Sainte Colombe (Jean-Pierre Marielle) and his pupil Marin Marais (played by both Gerard Depardieu and his son, Guillaume Depardieu), who wound up playing in Lully’s orchestra at the court of Louis XIV by the time he was 20. So little is known about Sainte Colombe that the film virtually invents him as a stubborn, eccentric idealist with two daughters (Anne Brochet and Carole Richert), one of whom becomes involved with Marais. Adapted from Pascal Quignard’s novel of the same title (which means “all the mornings of the world”) by Quignard and Corneau, the film makes very good use of musical pieces by the main characters as well as by Lully, Couperin, and Jordi Savall (who conducts and helps perform the score). Winner of no less than seven Cesars and other prestigious French prizes, this is somewhat better than the middlebrow cultural monuments that usually get awarded such honors; the characters remain fascinating throughout, and the handling of the period is both delicate and highly evocative (1991). (Music Box, Friday, December 25, through Thursday, January 7) Read more