Daily Archives: March 20, 2017

Theme and Variations [THE LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE]

From the Chicago Reader, May 14, 1999. —J.R.

The Lovers of the Arctic Circle

Rating *** A must see

Directed and written by Julio Medem

With Fele Martinez, Najwa Nimri, Nancho Novo, Maru Valdivielso, Peru Medem, Sara Valiente, Victor Hugo Oliveira, and Kristel Diaz.

Julio Medem’s fourth feature is a love story spanning 17 years — from the time Otto and Ana first meet, as children in a Spanish school yard, to their improbable reunion in the wilds of northern Finland when they’re 25. But the film starts at the end rather than the beginning, and like the names of the two characters, the story can be read backward as well as forward. That story is told by Otto and Ana in alternate bursts, inflected mainly by how Otto views Ana and vice versa, skipping back and forth in time. To make things trickier, the two versions of what happens are sometimes at variance.

When The Lovers of the Arctic Circle joined Open Your Eyes at the Fine Arts last week, it became possible to conclude, with a sigh of relief, that the age of Pedro Almodovar was finally over. I don’t mean that Almodovar won’t continue to make movies or get American distribution, but that his brand of smart-aleck entertainment will no longer have to stand for the whole of Spanish cinema.… Read more »

How to Capture an Artist [SYLVIA & IN THE MIRROR OF MAYA DEREN]

From the Chicago Reader (October 31, 2003). — J.R.

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Sylvia

** (Worth seeing)

Directed by Christine Jeffs

Written by John Brownlow

With Gwyneth Paltrow, Daniel Craig, Jared Harris, Amira Casar, Andrew Havill, Lucy Davenport, Blythe Danner, and Michael Gambon.

In the Mirror of Maya Deren

**** (Masterpiece)

Directed by Martina Kudlacek

Greasing the bodies of adulterers

Like Hiroshima ash and eating in.

The sin. The sin.

– Sylvia Plath, “Fever 103 °

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In film, I can make the world dance.

– Maya Deren

In college it always seemed like the guys who were poets got more girls than the prose writers. The assumption was that poets had all the romance and sensuality associated with their medium working for them. Poetry, after all, isn’t just a block of printed material; it’s an activity, and one that can turn people on sexually as well as spiritually.

In cultures such as those of Russia and Iran sexual and spiritual qualities tend to run neck and neck: the great Persian poet Forough Farrokhzad (1935-’67), a fan of Sylvia Plath, retains a mythic allure that combines the auras of Joan of Arc, Billie Holiday, and Marilyn Monroe. And an erotic charge is one of the first things that Sylvia, a biopic about Sylvia Plath (1932-’63), gets right.… Read more »