Monthly Archives: December 1992

Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg

A 1991 Swedish feature written and directed by Kjell Grede, starring Stellan Skarsgard as Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish businessman who saved the lives of many thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II and wound up being taken prisoner by the Russians. Well-intentioned in its desire to honor its factual basis and in its grimness about the Holocaust, the film inadvertently illustrates better than most the futility of trying to make such a subject imaginable or believable by conventional means (the enduring lesson of Shoah). Even when this film disturbs, it seldom has much of the sting of reality; it’s a sad irony that even some conventional entertainments render deaths more convincingly. (JR) Read more

The Glass Cell

Framed by a shady contractor for negligence that resulted in the collapse of a school building, an architect (Helmut Griem) plots his revenge. Hans Geissendorfer (Jonathan) directed this little-seen but watchable 1978 German feature, which was nominated for an Oscar, based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith and photographed by Robby Muller. With Brigitte Fossey and Dieter Laser. (JR) Read more

Forever Young

Surefire mush: Mel Gibson plays a test pilot who volunteers to be frozen circa 1939 after losing the love of his life (Isabelle Glasser) in a car accident; he wakes up in 1992 and finds Jamie Lee Curtis. Steve Miner directed from a script by Jeffrey Abrams. Costarring Elijah Wood. (JR) Read more

For Sasha

Set before, during, and after the Israeli six-day war in 1967, Alexandre Arcady’s well-crafted French film (1992) is not precisely autobiographical, though it draws on his personal experience. The story concerns three 20-year-old men arriving at a kibbutz to visit their former classmate Laura (Sophie Marceau), who has given up a promising career as a violinist to live with Sasha (Richard Berry), a former philosophy professor twice her age. The earlier suicide of another former classmate and the eventual outbreak of war form the two major events of the story; while the attempts to combine personal and historical elements aren’t always convincing, they’re frequently affecting. (JR) Read more

Deadly Currents

A thoughtful and powerful Canadian documentary about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The filmmaker, Simcha Jacobovici, is the son of Holocaust survivors, but he has tried very hard to make this film a nonpartisan overview of the conflict that shows some of the wisdom as well as some of the unreasoning hatred on both sidesand to an extent he has succeeded. Among the many people interviewed, my favorite is a pacifist, anarchist street performer in Tel Aviv with an Arab father and a Jewish mother who has fought at separate times on both sides. (Jacobovici’s view is wide enough to include other performing artists as well, among them an Israeli dance company and a Palestinian music ensemble.) One might question at times the use of techniques associated with fiction films (e.g., point-of-view shots and flashbacks) and the occasional tendency of the filmmakers to provoke the people they are filming, though the film is sufficiently up-front to suggest that camera crews sometimes help create the violence they record. But the overall portrait that emerges, of a society propelled by suffocating hatred and intolerance on both sides, is disquieting, intelligent, and hard to forget. 115 min. (JR) Read more

The Best Of The International Tournee Of Animation

What’s best in such compilations is always debatable, but if you haven’t seen any of the International Tournees some pleasant surprises are in store for you. For the record, the 17 shorts from seven countries are: from the UK, Paul Vester’s Sunbeam (1980), Alison Snowden and David Fine’s Second Class Mail (1984), Nick Park’s Creature Comforts (1989), David Anderson’s Door (1990), and John Minnis’s Charade (1984); from the U.S., Bill Kroyer’s Technological Threat (1988), Brett Koth’s Happy Hour, Sally Cruikshank’s Face Like a Frog (1987), Gregory Grant’s Ode to G.I. Joe (1990), John Lasseter and William Reeves’s Tin Toy (1988), and John Kricfalusi’s Big House Blues; from Hungary, Ferenc Rofusz’s The Fly (1980) and Gyula Nagy’s Finger Wave (1988); from the former USSR, Mikhail Aldashin’s The Hunter (1991); from the Netherlands, Paul Driessen’s The Killing of an Egg (1977); from Germany, Wolfgang and Christoph Lauenstein’s Balance (1989); and from Canada, Cordell Barker’s The Cat Came Back (1988). (JR) Read more

African Camera: Twenty Years Of African Cinema

An excellent documentary made in 1983 by Tunisian critic and filmmaker Ferid Boughedir (HalfaouineBoy of the Terraces, Arabian Camera) that offers an intelligent and useful survey of African cinema. All the major figures are interviewedincluding Ousmane Sembene, Souleymane Cisse, Djibril Diop Mambety, Med Hondo, Gaston Kabore, Dikongue Pipa, Safi Faye, Oumarou Ganda, and Ola Balogun. (JR) Read more