Daily Archives: December 9, 1994

Nell

Playing a contemporary southern wild child who grew up in the wilderness with limited human contact, Jodie Foster seems so determined to win her third Oscar that there are moments when you want to give it to her just so she’ll leave you aloneespecially when the movie seems to be going out of its way to remind you of The Accused. But insofar as one can forget all this huffing and puffing and get involved in the storyadapted by William Nicholson and Mark Handley from Handley’s play Idioglossiathis is a touching and often involving variation on the theme of Truffaut’s The Wild Child about what constitutes civilization and why, with more emphasis given in this case to the motives of a humane doctor (Liam Neeson) and an ambitious psychologist (Natasha Richardson) who try to come to terms with this mysterious individual. Michael Apted directed, somewhat unevenly, but with a fine sense of the North Carolina locations, and Dante Spinotti’s cinematography is excellent (1994). With Richard Libertini, Nick Searcy, Robin Mullins, and Jeremy Davies. (JR)… Read more »

Last Day in Chicago

Though I wouldn’t call it an unqualified success, this highly evocative black-and-white short feature by Chicagoan Louis Antonelli, which has already received some well-deserved praise from Hollywood actress-director Ida Lupino, re-creates (or, more precisely, rediscovers) Chicago between 1945 and the present in a lovely noirish mood piece–shot in both film and video–about one woman’s loneliness, guided by her offscreen narration. In the dislocations between sight and sound, past and present, fiction and documentary, a haunted obsessional nostalgia takes shape, surrealist in feeling. Antonelli’s wonderful selection of period music (including Frank Sinatra, Claude Thornhill, Cab Calloway, and early Nat Cole) to inflect and caress his images works as effectively as his skilled cast, headed by RKO veteran Bonnie Blair Parker. With Randy Steinmeyer, Kayla Klien, Joan Paxton, and Tracie Harkovich. On the same program, another new film by Antonelli, The Wizard of Austin Boulevard, which I haven’t seen, about the quest of Chicagoan Alexander Kouvalis to restore the northwest side’s Patio Theatre, where this program is being held. There’s also a performance by Dennis Scott on the theater’s organ. Patio, 6008 W. Irving Park, Sunday, December 11, 2:00, 736-0956 or 777-5628.… Read more »

L’amour fou

Rightly described by Dave Kehr as Jacques Rivette’s “breakthrough film, the first of his features to employ extreme length (252 minutes), a high degree of improvisation, and a formal contrast between film and theater,” this rarely screened 1968 masterpiece is one of the great French films of the 60s. It centers on rehearsals for a production of Racine’s Andromaque and the doomed yet passionate relationship between the director (Jean-Pierre Kalfon) and his actress wife (Bulle Ogier), who leaves the production at the beginning of the film and then festers in paranoid isolation. The rehearsals, filmed by Rivette (in 35 millimeter) and by TV documentarist Andre S. Labarthe (in 16), are real, and the relationship between Kalfon and Ogier is fictional, but this only begins to describe the powerful interfacing of life and art that takes place over the film’s hypnotic, epic unfolding. In the rehearsal space Rivette cuts frequently between the 35- and 16-millimeter footage, juxtaposing two kinds of documentary reality; in the couple’s apartment, filmed only in 35, the oscillation between love and madness, passion and mistrust, builds to several terrifying and awesome climaxes in which the distinctions between life and theater, reality and fiction, become virtually irrelevant. In many ways this is Ogier’s richest, finest performance, and Kalfon keeps pace with her every step of the way.… Read more »