Daily Archives: December 14, 2016

For all of us who didn’t make it to Cannes… [Chicago Reader blog post, 6/4/07]

Film For all of us who didn’t make it to Cannes…

Posted By on 06.04.07 at 07:51 PM

 

ChacunsonCinema

Go to French Amazon or FNAC, both of which charge 19.99 Euros plus postage [2016 note: Alas, that price has nearly tripled by now] for a delightful DVD containing all 32 of the three-minute movies commissioned by Gilles Jacob, former director of the Cannes film festival, to precede many of the features at Cannes this year. The loose thematic hook is the darkness inside a movie theater, and the lineup of filmmakers is impressive: in alphabetical order (and please forgive me not including any links here — life is too short), Theo Angelopoulos, Olivier Assayas, Bille August, Jane Campion (the only woman, alas), Youssef Chahine, Chen Kaige, Michael Cimino, David Cronenberg, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Manoel de Oliveira, Raymond Depardon, Atom Egoyan, Amos Gitai, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Aki Kaurismaki, Abbas Kiarostami, Takeshi Kitano, Andrei Konchalovsky, Claude Lelouch, Ken Loach, Nanni Moretti, Roman Polanski, Raul Ruiz, Walter Salles, Elia Suleiman, Tsai Ming-liang, Gus van Sant, Lars von Trier, Wim Wenders, Wong Kar-wai, and Zhang Yimou. (Incidentally, if you click on and enlarge the illustration here, all of these names become magically visible.) And there’s even a bonus: longer and/or alternate versions of the shorts by Cimino (one of the best, involving the filming of a volatile Cuban band, intercut with the lead singer watching the film of the band in the same theater), Gonzalez Inarritu, Hou (who offers us a black-and-white version of his elaborate period re-creation of the front of a large cinema), and Suleiman (who presents his alternately droll and sinister variations on gags by Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati).

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Asya’s Happiness

From the Chicago Reader (July 1, 1988). — J.R.


Originally entitled The Story of Asya Klachina, Who Loved a Man but Did Not Marry Him Because She Was Proud, Andrei Konchalovsky’s remarkable 1967 depiction of life on a collective farm, one of his best films, was shelved by Soviet authorities for 20 years, apparently because its crippled heroine is pregnant but unengaged and because the overall depiction of Soviet rural life is decidedly less than glamorous. (The farm chairman, for instance, played by an actual farm chairman, is a hunchback.) Working with beautiful black-and-white photography and a cast consisting mainly of local nonprofessionals (apart from the wonderful Iya Savina as Asya and a couple others), Konchalovsky offers one of the richest and most realistic portrayals of the Russian peasantry ever filmed, working in an unpretentious style that occasionally suggests a Soviet rural counterpart to the early John Cassavetes. Many of the men in the cast relate anecdotes about war and postwar experiences that are gripping and authentic, the interworkings of the community are lovingly detailed, and the handling of the heroine and her boyfriends is refreshingly candid without ever being didactic or sensationalist. Episodic in structure and leisurely paced, the film is never less than compelling.… Read more »

A Nest Of Gentry

From the Chicago Reader (July 1, 1988). — J.R.

ANestofGentry

Andrei Konchalovsky’s follow-up to his 1967 Asya’s Happiness was a much safer literary adaptation of a Turgenev novel about a cuckolded member of the Russian aristocracy of the mid-19th century who is the son of a servant girl and a nobleman and who struggles unsuccessfully to find a place for himself in society. Ambitious but rather slow, using a variety of camera techniques that suggest the influence of the French New Wave, this is a respectable if unexciting work by a talented filmmaker. Attractively filmed in color, and certainly more interesting than A Handful of Dust as a treatment of fading aristocracy, it nonetheless lacks the sense of discovery conveyed in Konchalovsky’s best Soviet and American work (1969). (JR)
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