Daily Archives: November 21, 1994

A Place In The World

This 1991 Argentine/Uruguayan coproduction by Argentinian writer-director Adolfo Aristarain was nominated for an Academy Award before being disqualified on a technicality, and by and large it’s better than most foreign movies that get nominated for Oscars. Aristarain compares the plotwhich involves the recollected adolescence of a boy growing up in Argentina’s Bermejo Valleywith that of Shane, but this hardly does it justice. The boy’s parents are an idealistic Jewish doctor (Cecilia Roth) and a sociology professor turned schoolteacher (Federico Luppi), who have helped found a cooperative of poor shepherds with an outspoken and committed nun. The Shane figure is a Spanish geologist-mercenary hired by the principal landowner in the region; all these characters, and the illiterate daughter of a local foreman the boy falls in love with, are treated with a novelistic density and ambiguity, and we’re likely to remember them afterward as we would real people. Recommended. (JR)… Read more »

Caro Diario

In his eighth feature (1994), European cult figure and comic Italian writer-director-performer Nanni Moretti offers a graceful, charming, funny, and intimate three-part film essay. The first part, On My Vespa, follows Moretti as he travels around Rome on his motorbike, visiting various neighborhoods (as well as a couple of movies) and ruminating on what he sees; the second chapter, Islands, has him touring a group of islands off the coast of Italy and Sicily with an intellectual friend, searching for a quiet place to do some work; and Doctors, the most straightforward and factual section, chronicles Moretti’s visits to a string of doctors about a mysterious itching ailment and their conflicting diagnoses and prescriptions. For all the wayward digressions of this film (including some fascinating and hilarious notations about the role of television in contemporary Italy), the experience of the three parts is mysteriously and hauntingly unified, and one comes away with an indelible sense of having had human contact. 100 min. (JR)… Read more »

Heavenly Creatures

New Zealand writer-director Peter Jackson directed this cartoonish 1994 melodrama based on the real-life Parker-Hulme affair, in which two passionately interconnected and obsessive New Zealand teenage girls killed one of their mothers in 1952. Jackson tries to enter as well as celebrate the collective consciousness of the heroines, and though the results are often visually striking, they quickly become glib and mechanical as the lurching zooms and intercut fantasy motifs are repeatedly trotted out like favorite routines. Unlike the campy excess of Jackson’s earlier Dead Alive, this kind of deliberate overkillwhich extends to the broad caricatures of the girls’ families as well as the girls’ feverish fantasy lifeultimately points toward a dearth of ideas rather than a surfeit, though the story remains sufficiently interesting and troubling to hold one’s attention. With Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, and Sarah Peirse. R, 99 min. (JR)… Read more »