Daily Archives: January 2, 2004

The Statement

In this adaptation of a novel by Brian Moore, a pardoned Vichy collaborator (Michael Caine) pursued by a judge, a colonel, and angry Jews hides out with right-wing Catholics in the south of France. Not quite a thriller and not quite a character study, though with elements of both, the film is limited by its ambiguous relation to history. (Caine’s character is loosely inspired by Paul Touvier, whose story played out quite differently despite his similarly being aided by members of the Catholic clergy.) Caine does a fine job of playing this queasy role, and Charlotte Rampling is effective in a small part as his estranged wife, but the sounds of ax grinding periodically overtake the other elements. Directed by Norman Jewison from a screenplay by Ronald Harwood (The Pianist); with Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Northam, and the late Alan Bates. R, 120 min. (JR) Read more

The Terrorizers

Edward Yang’s evocative and deliberately ambiguous third feature (1986) pivots on a chance encounter between a rebellious Eurasian girl and a novelist and housewife who decides to leave her husband, a lab technician. As Taiwanese film critic Edmund Wong has noted, the film offers a refreshing look at Yang’s theme of urban melancholy and self-discoverya preoccupation running through Yang’s early work that often evokes some of Antonioni’s poetry, atmosphere, and feeling for modernity. Well worth checking out. In Mandarin with subtitles. 109 min. (JR) Read more

Terror Of Mechagodzilla

By this late point in the cycle, Godzilla had become a good guy, so the Toho studios had to dream up a new series of adversaries for him; this one is a giant robot double that threatens the venerable lizard with an identity crisis. Inoshiro (aka Ishiro) Honda directed this 1975 monster movie. 83 min. (JR) Read more

The Year in Pictures

Last month while finishing a list of my 1,000 favorite films for a forthcoming collection, I was shocked to discover I’d forgotten to include Alain Resnais’ Night and Fog. If I’d been working on the list a few days later, when I attended a press show of the soon to be rereleased The Battle of Algiers (1965), which I hadn’t seen in decades, I probably would have included that as well. In my 20s I thought the film was important for its radicalism; today I find it impressive for its evenhandedness. Some films continue deepening long after we first see them, partly because shifting contexts enlarge our understanding of them, partly because our perceptions are altered by those of other viewers: over the past couple of months a few people have persuaded me that I underestimated Clint Eastwood’s capacity to criticize his own characters in Mystic River (though that didn’t plant the film on my ten-best list). Some movies are diminished by time or by comparison. I’m a big fan of Guy Maddin’s Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary and Cowards Bend the Knee, but neither one made my list because I like his The Saddest Music in the World (which hasn’t shown here yet) even better. Read more