From the Chicago Reader (October 6, 1989). — J.R.
THE LITTLE THIEF ** (Worth seeing)
Directed by Claude Miller
Written by Annie Miller, Claude Miller, and Luc Beraud
With Charlotte Gainsbourg, Didier Bezace, Simon de la Brosse, Raoul Billerey, and Chantal Banlier.
The French cinema has perhaps never been more desperately in the doldrums than now, and this slump is best represented by the trips down memory lane that seem to be a major preoccupation in current French movies. Never entailing research or reevaluation, these simplified, nostalgic foreshortenings of the past often pare away much of what makes that past interesting.
Claude Miller’s The Little Thief (La petite voleuse) is a case in point because it purports to be, at least in this country, the last work of the late Francois Truffaut. (I’m told that no such claims were made about the film when it opened in France, and can understand why; even French amnesia doesn’t ordinarily extend quite as far as our own.) The film was developed out of a long-nurtured Truffaut project that Truffaut considered filming at various points throughout his career; a 30- or 40-page treatment (accounts differ) he wrote with Claude de Givray served as Miller’s starting point, although by all accounts this story has been extensively reworked and embellished, and even given a new ending.… Read more »
Having now experienced two years’ worth of the Chicago International Film Festival, I’m not the least bit surprised to learn that the 25th-anniversary version, the largest to date, is starting on Thursday, October 12, three days before “opening night.” We’ll have plenty to say about this event when it gets fully under way next week; for the moment, here are reviews of the four films to be shown on Thursday, written by Gerald Peary, Ronnie Scheib, Barbara Scharres, and John Stevenson; films preceded by an asterisk (*) are recommended.
The Thursday films will be shown at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, and the University of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th St.; ticket prices are $6, $5 for Cinema/Chicago members. For further information, call 644-3456. –Jonathan Rosenbaum
*Jesus of Montreal
Denys Arcand had his first worldwide hit in 1986, with the intellectual sex comedy The Decline of the American Empire, although this smart and witty Quebec director is no novice. A well-known name in Canadian film since a notorious banned sociopolitical documentary in 1970, Arcand turned to fiction features and has become one of the sharpest and most irreverent observers of North American culture and middle-class values working today. In Jesus of Montreal, Daniel, a young unemployed actor, is hired by a priest with patron-of-the-arts pretensions to revive a wheezy 50s passion play for performance on a mountainside above Montreal.… Read more »