Monthly Archives: September 1998

The Farm: Angola, U.s.a.

Jonathan Stack and Elizabeth Garbus’s powerful documentary, winner of the grand jury prize at Sundance, focuses on six long-term inmates at the Louisiana state penitentiaryan 18,000-acre complex on the grounds of a former slave plantation, with 5,000 inmates, 77 percent of them black. It… Read more »

The Eel

A tale of moral regeneration from Shohei Imamura, adapted from Akira Yoshimura’s novel Sparkles in the Darkness. A white-collar worker spends eight years in prison after brutally murdering his wife and her lover; released to the supervision of a Buddhist priest in a small coastal town, he becomes a barber and relates almost exclusively to a pet eel he adopted while incarcerated. After saving the life of a suicidal woman who resembles his late wife, the barber makes her his assistant, yet the growing bond between them is complicated by her crazed mother and her ex-lover. The film brims over with various eccentrics (the barber’s ufologist neighbor and a former prison mate who harasses the hero and delivers drunken tirades), and Imamura views them all with amusement and curiosity; he also does striking things with dream sequences and visual and aural flashbacks. At Cannes this shared the 1997 Palme d’Or with Taste of Cherry, and though I don’t consider it on the same level, it’s absorbing throughout. In Japanese with subtitles. 116 min. (JR)… Read more »