Daily Archives: August 13, 2004

Intimate Strangers

An attractive married woman (Sandrine Bonnaire) wanders into the office of a tax accountant (Fabrice Luchini) and, mistaking him for a psychiatrist whose office is nearby, begins blurting out confidences. Their sessions continue even after she belatedly discovers her error, and the accountant, a mousy bachelor, becomes obsessed with her. Like Monsieur Hire (1990), which also paired Bonnaire with director Patrice Leconte, this is both a claustrophobic psychological thriller (paradoxically shot in ‘Scope) and a French bourgeois melodrama mired in prudery (the French title translates as Overly Intimate Secrets). This held me, but I was grateful when it released me. Jerome Tonnerre wrote the script. In French with subtitles. R, 105 min. (JR) Read more

Code 46

In a near future when international travel is subject to totalitarian restrictions, a married insurance inspector (Tim Robbins) travels to Shanghai to find a forger of travel permits (Samantha Morton), then falls in love with her. Michael Winterbottom (24-Hour Party People) directed a script by his usual collaborator, Frank Cottrell Boyce, that suggests more than it explains. Many of my colleagues have voiced appreciation for the love story and the versatility of the writer-director team, but for me this film sounds better than it plays; there are too many echoes of Alphaville (finding the future in contemporary urban locations) and of the dreamy drift of Blade Runner. But the style of the opening and closing credits is pretty spiffy. R, 92 min. (JR) Read more


Bela Tarr made this remarkable color video (1982, 67 min.) for Hungarian television, though it also served as his film-school thesis. Taped in a Budapest cellar and environs, it reduces the Shakespeare play to only two shots (the first, running about four minutes, appears before the main title), and all the witches are men. Most of the action occurs in the foreground, and the elaborate movements of the camera and actors are masterfully staged. Tarr has described this as a kind of documentary of the actors’ performances, and as such it’s a transition between the social realism of his earlier projects (Family Nest, The Outsider, and The Prefab People) and the diabolical formal virtuosity of his later ones (Almanac of Fall, Damnation, Satantango, and Werckmeister Harmonies). In Hungarian with subtitles. (JR) Read more

Gideon’s Day

With its eccentric mix of realism and mannerism, London locations and stylish sets, John Ford’s 1958 adaptation of a John Creasey novel is decidedly un-Hollywood. Chronicling a packed day in the life of a Scotland Yard inspector (Jack Hawkins), it seems almost plotless at first, which may explain why the U.S. release, titled Gideon of Scotland Yard, was ultimately cut by almost a quarter. The American version was also printed in black and white, which is unfortunate, because the vivid and very English colors are one of the best things about the original, a restored print of which will be shown here. This offers lots of Fordian comedy and a wealth of fine English actors, including Cyril Cusack, the formerly blacklisted Anna Lee, Anna Massey (Peeping Tom, Frantic) in her screen debut, and Hawkins, who’s especially effective playing some version of Ford himself. 88 min. Gene Siskel Film Center. Read more