From the Chicago Reader (May 1, 1998). — J.R.
A middle-aged man who’s contemplating suicide drives around the hilly, dusty outskirts of Tehran trying to find someone who will bury him if he succeeds and retrieve him if he fails. This minimalist yet powerful and life-enhancing 1997 feature by Abbas Kiarostami (Where Is the Friend’s House?, Life and Nothing More, Through the Olive Trees) never explains why the man wants to end his life, yet every moment in his daylong odyssey carries a great deal of poignancy and philosophical weight. Kiarostami, one of the great filmmakers of our time, is a master at filming landscapes and constructing parablelike narratives whose missing pieces solicit the viewer’s active imagination. Taste of Cherry actually says a great deal about what it was like to be alive in the 1990s, and despite its somber theme, this masterpiece has a startling epilogue that radiates with wonder and euphoria. In Farsi with subtitles. 99 min. (JR)
From the Chicago Reader (November 13, 1992). — J.R.
** (Worth seeing)
Directed by Bernt Capra
Written by Floyd Byars, Fritjof Capra, and Bernt Capra
With Liv Ullmann, Sam Waterston, John Heard, and Ione Skye.
Made two years ago, Mindwalk is finally arriving in Chicago (at Facets Multimedia for a week), after having been announced and then withdrawn as an attraction at the Fine Arts many months ago. However, the surprise isn’t so much that the movie is turning up here late as that it’s turning up at all. In this virtual talkfest about Serious Matters set on Mont-Saint-Michel — the islet in the English Channel a mile off the coast of France — three people discuss the state of the world over the course of an afternoon. An American senator (Sam Waterston), a conservative Democrat who has just done poorly in a presidential primary, has gone to visit an expatriate poet friend (John Heard), and the two of them meet by chance a disillusioned European-born physicist (Liv Ullmann). She does most of the talking while they all walk around Mont-Saint-Michel; the two men chiefly ask questions and occasionally offer a skeptical rejoinder or corroborating gloss. The only other character of any importance is the physicist’s daughter (Ione Skye). Read more