Daily Archives: September 1, 2006

13 (tzameti)

This allegorical thriller has already inspired plans for an English-language remake, perhaps because the story, for all its seeming novelty, is comfortably shopworn. A Georgian laborer in a French coastal town learns that his elderly neighbor plans to earn a fortune through some obscure agreement. After the neighbor dies of an overdose, the Georgian intercepts a letter meant for the deceased, and its instructions lead him to a Parisian gambling den where the patrons wager on elaborate games of Russian roulette. Shot in black-and-white ‘Scope, this first feature by Georgian writer-director Gela Babluani is mechanical in both its suspense and its pessimism. In French and Georgian with subtitles. 86 min. (JR)… Read more »

Conversations With Other Women

Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart play a former couple who meet at a Manhattan wedding and wind up having a one-night stand in her hotel room. Gabrielle Zevin’s script borders on the pedestrian, but it’s made to seem unorthodox because of director Hans Canosa’s split-screen technique, which usually features adjacent or overlapping simultaneous views of the two characters and occasionally flashbacks or subjective imaginings alongside the present action. Oddly theatrical, this method seems a poor cousin of staging in the theater, which offers the audience a wider range of things to observe; despite the resourcefulness of the two leads, the movie finally registers as much ado about very little. R, 84 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Bitter Tea of General Yen

Frank Capra’s very atypical drama about an American missionary (Barbara Stanwyck) taken prisoner by a Chinese warlord (Nils Asther) is not only his masterpiece but also one of the greatest love stories to come out of Hollywood in the 30s–subtle, delicate, moody, mystical, and passionate. Joseph Walker shot it through filters and with textured shadows that suggest Sternberg; Edward Paramore wrote the script, adapted from a story by Grace Zaring Stone. Oddly enough, this perverse and beautiful film was chosen to open Radio City Music Hall in 1933; it was not one of Capra’s commercial successes, but it beats the rest of his oeuvre by miles, and both Stanwyck and Asther are extraordinary. With Walter Connolly and Lucien Littlefield. 89 min. Also on the program: episode eight of the 1938 serial The Spider’s Web. Sat 9/2, 8 PM, LaSalle Bank Cinema.… Read more »

Lassie

Shortly before the outbreak of World War I, a Yorkshire miner (John Lynch) and his wife (Samantha Morton) regretfully sell their beautiful collie to a local duke (Peter O’Toole) who takes it to northern Scotland. This turn of events grieves their young son (Jonathan Mason), but the dog escapes and makes its way home. Like the MGM classic Lassie Come Home, this handsome 2005 English feature was adapted from the novel by Eric Knight, and it’s a welcome throwback to the carefully crafted family films of the studio era. The scenery is lovely, and the cast is entirely worthy of the enterprise (including the regal and athletic star). Writer-director Charles Sturridge overplays the nastiness of a comic villain but more than makes up for it with a wonderful episode involving a traveling puppeteer (Peter Dinklage). PG, 99 min. Crown Village 18, River East 21.… Read more »