Daily Archives: March 7, 2003

The Safety Of Objects

Adapted from a book of stories by A.M. Homes, this third feature by Rose Troche is a series of interlocking tales about dysfunctional families and individuals living in one suburban neighborhood. Three weeks after seeing this film, I could barely remember it, and given Troche’s precise grasp of character and milieu in her much more cheerful Go Fish, it’s difficult to fathom why this movie is so flat and unconvincing. Maybe the stories work individually on the page, but collapsed together as they are here, and played like too many wild cards, they come across as contrived and forced; not even the highly stylized opening, which introduces us to the various families by way of a few dollhouses, makes the contrivances any more palatable. Among the sad characters are a mother (Glenn Close) doggedly nursing her comatose son while her teenage daughter (Jessica Campell) enters her in a silly radio contest in a mall, an alienated lawyer (Dermot Mulroney) who winds up playing cheerleader to the mother in the contest, a teenager (Alex House) in love with his sister’s Barbie doll, and the bored kidnapper of a little boy. The actorsincluding Mary Kay Place, Robert Klein, Moira Kelly, Patricia Clarkson, Kristen Stewart, and Timothy Olyphantare skillful, but what they’re given to work with mainly defeats them. Read more


I still haven’t seen or read Rolf Hochhuth’s 1963 German play The Deputy, which caused quite a stir when it first appeared and has intrigued me ever since I read Susan Sontag’s essay about it. But whether or not this English-language adaptation, scripted by Jean-Claude Grumberg and director Costa-Gavras, is faithful to the play, it’s an absorbing and compelling account of a historical episode that should be better known. Like the play, the film focuses on the efforts of SS officer Kurt Gerstein (Ulrich Tukur) and a young Jesuit priest (Mathieu Kassovitz, playing a composite of several people) to enlist the Vatican in exposing the Nazi death camps to the world. The most controversial part of the story is Pope Pius XII’s failure to take a stand against the camps as he did against Nazi euthanasia, which the film examines in detail. A sober and serious docudrama, this follows the example of Shoah in refusing to show or represent any of the death-camp horrors, leaving this up to the viewer’s imagination. 130 min. (JR) Read more