Daily Archives: April 25, 2003


This second feature by Samira Makhmalbaf (2000, 85 min.), made before she turned 20, shares many of the qualities found in other productions by Makhmalbaf Film House (The Day I Became a Woman, Kandahar) by boldly mixing documentary elements with allegory and fantasy in a way that’s both fascinating and disconcerting. Set in the rocky wilds of Kurdistan in northern Iran near the Iraqi border, the plot shuttles between a group of teachers who look for pupils while carrying blackboards on their backs, some boy smugglers, and a group of old men searching for their homes. The scenery is beautiful, and the feeling for community recalls not only Makhmalbaf’s debut feature, The Apple, but also, oddly enough, John Ford’s Wagon Master. In Farsi with subtitles. (JR) Read more


A convict (Billy Bob Thornton) who killed a boy in an attempted holdup is unexpectedly released from prison; still obsessed with redemption, he moves into a community house presided over by a mysterious preacher (Morgan Freeman), befriends the dead boy’s sister (Holly Hunter) without her knowing his crime, and attempts to counsel her troubled son. Haven’t we seen this already? Well, not exactly, but writer-director Ed Solomon, shooting in the midwestern dead of winter (actually in Canada), makes it more familiar than unfamiliar, despite good performances by Freeman and Kirsten Dunst (as another troubled youth). Thornton and Hunter are good too, albeit less memorable when required to do retreads. 100 min. (JR) Read more

Fruit Of Paradise

I couldn’t make heads or tails out of this avant-garde version of the Adam and Eve story when I saw it umpteen years ago (it was made in 1970), but Vera Chytilova’s wild, extravagant, and ravishing romp was certainly intoxicating on a sensual level. It came at the end of her rebellious period as the great hope and holy terror of the new Czech cinema, after her even better About Something Else and Daisies, and before she buckled down to the relatively staid efforts of The Apple Game and Prague. A Czech-Belgian coproduction, set in a Czech resort, with a great deal of technical razzle-dazzle: double exposures, slow motion, step printing, and so on. In Czech with subtitles. (JR)

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