Daily Archives: August 14, 1997

SMILLA’S SENSE OF SNOW

From the Chicago Reader (August 14, 1997).  — J,R.

smilla001

Adapted by Ann Biderman from the popular Peter Hoeg novel and directed by Bille August (Pelle the Conqueror, The Best Intentions), this is a watchable conspiracy thriller, but, as with most conspiracy thrillers, the first half is a lot more watchable than the second: the more one discovers, the less interested one becomes. Playing a troubled and not very likable loner who’s half Greenlandic Inuit and half American, Julia Ormond—a lot more interesting here than she’s been on previous star outings—plays a spiky recluse obsessed with solving the mystery of the allegedly accidental death of a six-year-old Inuit neighbor. This leads to a complex investigation whose facts become steadily more outlandish. Others in the cast include Gabriel Byrne, Richard Harris, Robert Loggia, and, in a cameo, Vanessa Redgrave. Jorgen Persson’s ‘Scope cinematography is handsome; the imitation Bernard Herrmann score is by composer-by-the-yard Hans Zimmer, working with Harry Gregson Williams.

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He’s So Heavy [COLD HEAVEN]

From the August 14, 1997 Chicago Reader. — J.R.

COLD HEAVEN

*** (A must-see)

Directed by Nicolas Roeg

Written by Allan Scott

With Theresa Russell, Mark Harmon, James Russo, Talia Shire, Will Patton, Richard Bradford, and Julie Carmen.

The sexy, volatile cinema of Nicolas Roeg might be said to operate under a kind of curse. Born in London in 1928, Roeg entered movies as a clapper boy at the age of 22 but didn’t become a cinematographer until his early 30s. After shooting such interesting films in the 60s as The Masque of the Red Death, Fahrenheit 451, and Petulia, he directed his powerful and still-dangerous Performance (in collaboration with Donald Cammell) in 1968, but then had to wait two years for Warner Brothers to release it.

After Roeg’s first solo directorial effort (Walkabout, 1971) came his first and only commercial hit (Don’t Look Now, 1973). He followed that up with two controversial cult items (The Man Who Fell to Earth, 1976, and Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession, 1979). In 1982 he made a feature (Eureka) that had a very limited release. Next in line was Insignificance (1985), then another feature with virtually no theatrical life in the United States (Castaway, 1986), then a third limited release (Track 29, 1988).… Read more »