Daily Archives: September 7, 2007

The Bubble

Eytan Fox (Yossi & Jagger, Walk on Water) cowrote and directed this sweet tempered but occasionally simplistic youth picture about three young, progressive Israelis who share a flat in a chic section of Tel Aviv. One of them, a music store clerk and part-time army reservist, falls in love with a Palestinian man he met while serving at a security checkpoint, and the flatmates find their lives complicated when they decide to help the Palestinian remain in the city illegally. In Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles. 117 min. (JR)… Read more »


This 1927 silent vehicle for Greta Garbo, which costars John Gilbert, doesn’t make too much sense as an adaptation of Anna Karenina, Tolstoy’s great novel about adultery. At least half of the ploteverything involving the character Levinis pared away in Frances Marion and Lorna Moon’s script, and the direction, by Edmund Goulding, is more serviceable than inspired. But Garbo’s radiance is imperishable. 82 min. (JR)… Read more »

Shoot ’em Up

Even if you’re square enough to find celebrations of mass slaughter tacky, it’s hard to deny that Clive Owen drives carrots through his opponents’ skulls with such stylish panache you forget real carrots aren’t lethal. Similarly, the way he casually mows down a mob while spontaneously delivering a baby in the opening sequence makes it seem only reasonable that he’d bully a prostitute (Monica Bellucci) into nursing it while the trio flee from cackling, villainous Paul Giamatti, or that she’d quickly fall in love with her laconic abuser, interrupting her maternal duties only long enough to raise some cash by giving a blow job in an alley. One can certainly be amused and entertained by writer-director Michael Davis’s hyperbolic action frolicsI wasbut not without feeling pretty low and stupid. R, 87 min. (JR)… Read more »

Pennies From Heaven

Bing Crosby stars as a carefree troubadour who settles down and helps to open a restaurant in order to keep his little friend (Edith Fellows) out of an orphanage; Madge Evans (Hallelujah, I’m a Bum!) is the skeptical social worker who gradually falls for him. Directed by Norman Z. McLeod, this Depression-era musical (1936) is hokey but likable, its cloying sentimentality made bearable by its casual but sincere populism. Louis Armstrong, who reunited with Crosby on-screen 20 years later in High Society, is just as wonderful here. 81 min. (JR)… Read more »

Ousamane Sembene

Retrospectives devoted to Alfred Hitchcock (at Block Cinema this fall) and Akira Kurosawa (at Doc Films) are always welcome no matter how often they occur. But Doc Films’ complete screening of the work of Ousmane Sembene is an exceptional gift, considering how difficult it’s been to see most of his nine features and four shorts. The father of African cinema, Sembene, who died in June at the age of 84, had a lengthy and distinguished career as a fiction writer before he made his first short around the age of 40. Hailing from Senegal, he worked as a mechanic and bricklayer and fought with the Free French in Africa and France before participating in a famous railway strike back in Dakar. Moving to France, he worked at a Citro’n factory, then for a decade as a Marseille dockworker, which formed the basis for his first novel, Le Docker Noir, published in 1956. Sembene was a masterful storyteller with a flair for both comedy and drama; he was also a highly political but consistently undogmatic commentator on what it means to be African. He showed a special feeling for his female characters in Black Girl (1966), Faat Kine (2000), and Moolaade (2004), but his blistering treatments of bureaucracy in Mandabi (1968) and foreign aid in Guelwaar (1992) are no less memorable.… Read more »