Daily Archives: May 29, 1992

Wind from the East (A TALE OF THE WIND)

From the Chicago Reader (May 29, 1992). . — J.R.

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A TALE OF THE WIND

**** (Masterpiece)

Directed by Joris Ivens and Marceline Loridan

Written by Loridan, Ivens, and Elisabeth D.

With Ivens, Loridan, Han Zenxiang, Liu Zhuang, Wang Delong, Wang Hong, Fu Dalin, Liu Guillian, Chen Zhijian, Zou Qiaoyu, and Paul Sergent.

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The Old Man, the hero of this tale, was born at the end of the last century, in a country where man has always striven to tame the sea and harness the wind. Camera in hand, he has traversed the 20th century in the midst of the stormy history of our time. In the evening of his life, at age 90, having survived the various wars and struggles that he filmed, the old filmmaker sets off for China. He has embarked on a mad project: to capture the invisible image of the wind.”

That’s my translation of the French opening title of A Tale of the Wind. It follows the credits, which accompany shots of a plane flying through the clouds and Michel Portal’s primitive-modern jazz score for woodwinds and percussion. After the opening passage the giant blades of a Dutch windmill fill the screen, followed by shots of a little boy in an aviator suit on a windswept lawn, apparently preparing to fly away on a small plane to China, calling to his mother.… Read more »

Far and Away

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman star in old-fashioned hokum on a very high level–the sort of thing Hollywood used to do well and more often–in a Ron Howard blockbuster about Irish immigration to the U.S. in the 1890s. Written by Bob Dolman and Howard and shot with Panavision super-70 camera equipment using 65-millimeter stock, this epic utopian fantasy about love overcoming class barriers (complete with a passing nod to It Happened One Night) is designed like a triptych, beginning in rural Ireland (where tenant farmer Cruise falls in with Kidman, the rebellious daughter of his wealthy landlord, when she decides to flee to the U.S.), continuing in Boston (where they share the same room, posing as brother and sister, and he triumphs for a while as a boxer), and concluding in the Oklahoma Territory (where they proceed separately to stake their claims). Never afraid of excess, Howard excels at giving imaginative density to the Boston locations and exploiting the chemistry between the two leads; he also shows a nice aptitude for story telling. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s mere overreaching and what’s nostalgia for Hollywood’s former grandiloquence–Howard certainly seems to love his fancy corkscrew crane shots–but for me this is the most enjoyable of his features to date.… Read more »

A Woman’s Tale

I’ve never been much of a Paul Cox fan, but this feature about a fiercely independent and passionate 79-year-old woman in Melbourne, Australia, is something rather special, largely because Cox regular Sheila Florance–who, like the character she plays, was dying of cancer over the course of the film–is magnificent. Affirmative without being sentimental, this is a deeply absorbing movie with no false notes or wasted motion; with Gosia Dobrowolska, Norman Kaye, and Chris Haywood (1991). (Fine Arts)… Read more »