Monthly Archives: August 2004

The Pirates Of Capri

The highly resourceful low-budget director Edgar G. Ulmer directed this 1949 adventure film in Italy. With Louis Hayward and Binnie Barnes. 94 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi

How does one perpetuate the longest-running samurai action series–which yielded 26 films and over a hundred TV episodes starring the late Shintaro Katsu as a blind, sword-wielding masseur–without belaboring it? Comic writer-director-star Takeshi Kitano does it by playing stylistic games with the material, until his apparent boredom with the genre is overtaken by his art-movie sensibility. There are geysers of blood, ESP, infantile gags, weird formal ideas about sound and editing, and half-jeering references to Akira Kurosawa. By the end, when Kitano closes with a tap-dancing musical number, the genre has been ridiculed nearly out of existence, but the sense of childlike exhilaration transcends irony. In Japanese with subtitles. 116 min. Reviewed this week in Section One. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark’s Century Centre.… Read more »

Collateral

Transpiring over a ten-hour nocturnal stretch in diverse Los Angeles locations, this engaging crime thriller by Michael Mann often suggests a low-budget 40s noir blown up to blockbuster proportions, an enlargement carried out with relative ease. An efficient if dreamy cabdriver (Jamie Foxx) picks up a hit man (Tom Cruise) who forces the cabbie to chauffeur him on his rounds to bump off five key witnesses in a drug case. Stuart Beattie’s script never strays far from genre expectations, but the ensuing picaresque adventures are lively, and there’s an undeniable grace and comfort in the way Mann puts the actors through their paces. With Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Peter Berg, and Irma P. Hall. R. Reviewed this week in Section One. Burnham Plaza, Century 12 and CineArts 6, Chatham 14, Crown Village 18, Davis, Ford City, Gardens 1-6, Golf Glen, Lake, Lawndale, Lincoln Village, Norridge, River East 21, 62nd & Western, Village North, Webster Place, Wilmette.… Read more »

Rosenstrasse

Margarethe von Trotta’s disappointing 2003 period drama focuses on the little-known protests of Aryan German women married to Jewish men who were held by the gestapo in a building on Berlin’s Rosenstrasse in 1943. The personal story told in flashbacks is of a little Jewish girl who’s briefly adopted by one of these women (Katja Riemann), a musician. A lot of effort appears to have gone into the glitzy period re-creation, but this is mainly a tearjerker. In German with subtitles. PG-13, 136 min. (JR)… Read more »

F For Fake

Orson Welles’s underrated 1973 essay filmmade from discarded documentary footage by Francois Reichenbach and new material from Wellesforms a kind of dialectic with Welles’s never-completed It’s All True. The main subjects are art forger Elmyr de Hory, Clifford Irving, Howard Hughes, Pablo Picasso, Welles himself, and the practice and meaning of deception. Despite some speculation that this film was Welles’s indirect reply to Pauline Kael’s bogus contention that he didn’t write a word of Citizen Kane, his sly commentaryseconded by some of the trickiest editing anywhereimplies that authorship is a pretty dubious notion anyway, a function of the even more dubious art market and its team of experts. Alternately superficial and profound, the film also enlists the services of Oja Kodar, Welles’s principal collaborator after the late 60s, as actor, erotic spectacle, and cowriter, and briefer appearances by many other Welles cohorts. Michel Legrand supplies the wonderful score. 85 min. (JR)… Read more »