Daily Archives: December 1, 2001

Silent Night, Deadly Night III– Better Watch Out!

The third in a series of five yuletide slasher films, this 1989 feature was directed by Monte Hellman, one of the key American filmmakers of the 60s and 70s (The Shooting, Two-Lane Blacktop, Cockfighter), and at least one Hellman fanatic I know swears by it. With Samantha Scully and Bill Moseley. 91 min. (JR)… Read more »

Brazen Hymns

A genuine raritya 40-minute experimental film in 35-millimeter and Dolby soundthis intriguing and arresting opus by D.B. Griffith shifts between straight documentary and drama as five allegorical, autodidactic outsiders (a clown, a butcher, a weeping priest, a doomsayer, and a man with a beak who speaks to birds in their own language, subtitled in English) emerge from landscapes of buildings and industrial sites in Chicago and Gary, each traveling a little further into the film’s wasted terrain. Shuttling back and forth between color and black-and-white stock, the film constitutes a kind of grim historical narrative, with an effective score by Josh Abrams that sometimes seems to emerge from sound effects. The cast includes local filmmaker Tom Palazzolo and musicians Bobby Conn and Douglas McCombs. In contrast, I couldn’t make much out of Nicholas Elliott’s 35-millimeter film Sue’s Last Ride (17 min.); shot mainly in Slovenia, it combines a desultory narrative with Super-8 footage of a performance by the Dirty Three, an Australian band. Palazzolo’s brand-new 16-millimeter film Rita on the Ropes (9 min.) was unavailable for preview. (JR)… Read more »

Stand-by

The initial idea is provocative: a man abandons his wife in the cafeteria of a French airport just before their scheduled flight to Buenos Aires, but instead of going home she remains in the airport as a permanent resident, working as a prostitute. Writer-director Roch Stephanik explores many of the nuances and ramifications of this fascinating concept, ably assisted by Dominique Blanc (Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train), whose performance won her a Cesar, the French equivalent of an Oscar. Yet the latter stretches of this 2000 feature are less memorable than the first part. 119 min. (JR)… Read more »

Conflagration

Kon Ichikawa directed this 1958 adaptation of Yukio Mishima’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion only two years after the novel was published. A young Buddhist acolyte with a speech defect is being held by the police for setting fire to a famous temple, and a series of flashbacks explains his fixation on the temple as a symbol of the order and purity missing from his own life. Ichikawa’s use of theatrical lighting changes to mark the shifts in time is masterful, and the powerful yet delicately composed black-and-white ‘Scope cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa (who also shot Sansho the Bailiff) is reason enough to see this film, even if you have little taste for Mishima’s special kind of craziness. Also known as Enjo; with Raizo Ichikawa, Tatsuya Nakadai, and Ganjiro Nakamura. In Japanese with subtitles. 99 min. (JR)… Read more »