Daily Archives: February 6, 1995

Before The Rain

This striking and ambitious 1994 Macedonian feature by Milcho Manchevski, a filmmaker trained at Southern Illinois University, won the best-film prize at Venice and gained a big reputation at other festivalsmore, it seems, for the timely issues of ethnic and religious warfare it deals with than for overall dramatic or thematic coherence (though it certainly has its strong moments). Telling three interconnected stories set in Macedonia and London, the film begins with a girl hiding out in a Macedonian monastery and then shifts to the emotional conflicts of a woman in London (Naked’s Katrin Cartlidge) leaving her husband and coming back into contact with a former lover, a Macedonian war photographer just back from Bosnia. The final story deals with the photographer’s return to his native country. With Rade Serbedzija, Gregoire Colin, and Labina Mitevska. In English and subtitled Albanian and Macedonian. 115 min. (JR) Read more

The Brady Bunch Movie

In her first feature as a director, former Second City performer Betty Thomas mounts a big-screen version of the TV show. It’s set in suburban Los Angeles in 1994, though the 70s still reign at home, and the movie is every bit as one-dimensional about the present as the original show was about the past. (Satire here mainly consists of ridiculing the Bradys for not keeping up with fashion and purchasing the right products.) A curiously sour movie in its amused contempt for this fatuous family laced with affectionate nostalgia for its unshakable slickness and insularity, but also an undeniably strange one in its adoption of TV formats and cliches, as if these were the only indexes of contemporary reality that we have left. If you’re 30 or under, chances are the movie will be charged with significance; if you’re older, it won’t seem very different from the recent movie versions of The Flintstones and The Beverly Hillbillies. Shelley Long and Gary Cole are the parents, and their six kids are played by unknowns; written by Laurice Elehwany, Rick Copp, and Bonnie and Terry Turner. (JR) Read more

Strawberry And Chocolate

Neither fish nor fowl, Tomas Gutierrez Alea’s touching yet compromised depiction of the persecution of gays in 1979 Havana was directed in collaboration with Juan Carlos Tabio when Alea became ill. It opts for an extremely broad depiction of gay mannerisms and tastes in its treatment of a campy but committed dilettante whom the hero, a university student and ardent communist, comes into contact with. Controversial in Cuba yet only mildly polemical by American standards, this 1993 movie is entertaining and evocative both as storytelling and as a description of intellectual life in Havana, but it also borders on the obvious in certain particulars. Written by Senel Paz; with Jorge Perrugoria, Vladimir Cruz, Mirta Ibarra, and Francisco Calorno. 110 min. (JR) Read more

An Unforgettable Summer

A stylistically graceful period piece (1994) by Romanian filmmmaker Lucian Pintilie (The Oak), based on a short story by Petru Dumitriu and set in 1925. When the aristocratic wife of an army captain resists the advances of a general, her husband’s superior angrily transfers the captain and his family to a remote garrison in a border town, where he’s ordered to shoot randomly selected Bulgarian villagers. The interface of class and military positions in a context of ethnic diversity is the overall theme, and Pintilie treats it with some sensitivity. With Kristin Scott Thomas, Claudiu Bleont, and Marcel Iures. (JR) Read more