Daily Archives: March 10, 2006

Only Human

I’m not sure the world needs a Jewish/Palestinian remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner reconfigured as farce, though the relative novelty of the ethnic mix lends a mild exoticism to this 2004 Spanish feature. A young Jewish woman brings her Palestinian fiance (Guillermo Toledo of El Crimen Perfecto) home to meet her family; to make matters worse, he accidentally injures a passing pedestrian who may be the father, and the son’s pet duckling breaks loose. Dominic Harari and Teresa Pelegri wrote and directed, and the results are lively but also shamelessly overbearing. In Spanish with subtitles. 85 min. (JR)… Read more »

Moments Choisis Des Histoire(s) Du Cinema

Jean-Luc Godard’s eight-part, 264-minute video Histoire(s) du Cinema (1998) has rarely been seen outside France, occasioning this feature-length reworking of many elements in his magnum opus that’s neither an anthology nor a digest. The selected moments have been transferred to 35-millimeter, and at 84 minutes this reconfiguration is more accessible (if less celebratory) than the original. Both versions portray cinema as a 19th-century invention that recorded the history of the 20th century, though the pessimism here about cinema’s failure to bear adequate witness to the Holocaust is even more pronounced. The beauty and power of this ambitious, dreamlike work are incontestable in any version; as in Finnegans Wake, the meanings are more easily felt than understood. The English subtitles are sparse but work better that way. (JR)… Read more »

Joyeux Noel

French, German, and Scottish soldiers, stuck in the trenches during World War I, decide to unite briefly for a Christmas celebration in this touching if simple parable (2005) by French writer-director Christian Carion. Based on a true story, the movie was nominated for an Oscar as best foreign film; some might castigate its unabashed sentimentality, but I found myself moved, especially when I recalled that this was supposedly the war to end all wars. In English and subtitled French, German, and Latin. R, 116 min. (JR)… Read more »

Winter Passing

An unhappy young New York actress (Zooey Deschanel) is offered a small fortune if she can secure publication rights to the love letters her recently deceased mother received from her reclusive novelist father (Ed Harris). After traveling home to Michigan she finds him living with one of his former students (Amelia Warner) and a born-again musician (Will Ferrell). Playwright Adam Rapp, making his feature debut as writer-director, details the family dysfunction to the point of hyperbole, but over the long haul he rewards one’s observation and intelligence and a more interesting story emerges. With Sam Bottoms and Amy Madigan. R, 98 min. (JR)… Read more »