Daily Archives: March 11, 2005

Black And White

This 2003 Portuguese feature by Jose Carlos de Oliveira begins as a no-frills war film set in 1972 Mozambique, then evolves (or devolves) into a fairly good action adventure flick as a black prisoner and a white soldier trek across the bush, joined eventually by a white military nurse. From that point it becomes a fairly thin if irony-laden study of the endlessly bickering characters, which ultimately capsizes with fatuous American Graffiti-style texts explaining their respective fates. Oliveira is never sure-footed enough to stick with a single genre, and the music, which ranges from African to Portuguese pop and rock, only adds to the distraction. In Portuguese with subtitles. 110 min. (JR) Read more

Gunner Palace

Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker’s documentary about U.S. soldiers of the 2/3 Field Artillery, stationed at a luxurious palace built by Saddam Hussein, is the first comprehensive film account I’ve seen of the Iraq occupation from the perspective of the soldiers; essentially this is their film. Most of the bullshit comes from Donald Rumsfeld, and no commentary is needed to clarify its inadequacy. I’m uncomfortable with how some of the narrative and musical strategies contrive to evoke Apocalypse Now, especially considering the filmmakers’ relative lack of illusions about the war. There are many rap performances, and the occasional editorializing includes one soldier’s ridicule of their flimsy Humvee armor. The film records many raids of Iraqi houses to find weapons and weapon makers; few of them are successful, though we’re offhandedly informed that several suspects were arrested and sent to Abu Ghraib anyway. No wonder some of the locals throw rocks. PG-13, 86 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark’s Century Centre. Read more

Dear Frankie

One should know as little as possible in advance about the plot of cinematographer Shona Auerbach’s subtle and graceful directorial debut, written by Andrea Gibb. So let’s just say that the main characters are a single mother (Emily Mortimer), her deaf nine-year-old son (Jack McElhone), his mysteriously absent father, a sailor hired by the mother to briefly impersonate the man, and the Scottish port setting. Considering this film and David MacKenzie’s Young Adam, an exciting new Scottish cinema may be taking shape. PG-13, 102 min. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark’s Century Centre. Read more