Daily Archives: May 8, 1992

A Prophet in His Own Country [Jon Jost retrospective]

From the Chicago Reader (May 8, 1992). — J.R.

JON JOST RETROSPECTIVE

Last week Jon Jost, a Chicago-born independent filmmaker, was having the first commercial run of his career — All the Vermeers in New York, his tenth feature, at the Music Box. Typically, he couldn’t be around for the event because he was busy shooting his 12th feature in Oregon.

The Music Box engagement launches a Jost retrospective that continues at Chicago Filmmakers on weekends for the remainder of this month. It’s the most exciting and important American retrospective to hit town since the Music Box’s John Cassavetes series last fall, though like that series it isn’t quite complete: only about half of Jost’s shorts — most made in the 60s and early 70s — are included, and two of his features, Bell Diamond (1985) and Sure Fire (1990), are omitted. (Sure Fire may open here in the fall if enough people go to see All the Vermeers in New York.) Still, it’s the most comprehensive show of Jost’s work that’s ever come to Chicago, and it offers a great chance to catch up with a singular career that has been more subterranean than most, even among American independents.… Read more »

Edward II

My candidate for the best Derek Jarman movie to date is this politically potent and deliberately shocking and anachronistic adaptation of the Christopher Marlowe play that rethinks it in terms of contemporary English homophobia and just about everything else that might be summed up as the Thatcher-Reagan legacy. Shooting his spare settings in crisp 35-millimeter images, Jarman gives the tragedy a seriousness and potency that puts Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books to shame. Coscripted by Stephen McBride and Ken Butler; with Steve Waddington, Andrew Tiernan, Tilda Swinton, Nigel Terry, and Jerome Flynn, and music performed by the Elektra Quartet. (At one climactic juncture, Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics performs Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.”) (Broadway)… Read more »

A Midnight Clear

Writer-director Keith Gordon sustains rather than fulfills the interesting promise of his first feature (The Chocolate War, 1988) in another taut novel adaptation that shows the influence of Stanley Kubrick. The novel this time is by William Wharton, who also wrote the source novels for Birdy and Dad; it’s a semiautobiographical account of the members of a young World War II infantry squad, stuck in a deserted French chateau during the Christmas season in 1944, who form a sort of perverse family (two of the soldiers are nicknamed “Father” and “Mother”) and make uncertain contact with a small German squad that may or may not want to surrender. This fable about the futility of the war benefits not only from fine performances but an intelligent and literate offscreen narration that enhances the movie’s conceptual integrity. With Peter Berg, Kevin Dillon, Arye Gross, Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise, Frank Whaley, and John C. McGinley. (Water Tower, Evanston) … Read more »