Daily Archives: December 4, 2017

Racism Here and Now (BETRAYED)

From the September 2, 1988 Chicago Reader. — J.R.

BETRAYED

** (Worth seeing)

Directed by Costa-Gavras

Written by Joe Eszterhas

With Debra Winger, Tom Berenger, John Heard, John Mahoney, Ted Levine, Maria Valdez, Betsy Blair, and Richard Libertini.

Although I liked Betrayed enough to make it a Critic’s Choice last week, a second look has convinced me that it has a fair number of strikes against it. Joe Eszterhas’s script clearly plows more than it sows, and sows (in a rather scattershot fashion) more than it reaps. The dialogue tends to fall back on so many familiar notions about simple farmers and hard-nosed federal agents that if less talented actors than Debra Winger, Tom Berenger, John Heard, and John Mahoney were assigned the lines, I doubt that we could accept them even half-heartedly.

Costa-Gavras’s direction, moreover, is more competent than inspired; the film functions as a thriller, but only barely. What the movie has going for it, really, is a germ of an idea — but one that is potent enough to give this story a sharp and unsettling charge. That the movie deals with rabid American racism without hedging on either its ugliness or its intensity is itself an accomplishment of some note.… Read more »

A Cinema of Uncertainty

From the Chicago Reader, April 9, 1993. — J.R

FILMS BY MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI

Jean-Luc Godard: The drama is no longer psychological, but plastic . . .

Michelangelo Antonioni: It’s the same thing.

– from a 1964 interview

eclisse-city-crossing

Just for my own edification, I’ve put together a list of the 12 greatest living narrative filmmakers — not so much personal favorites as individuals who, in my estimation, have done the most to change the way we perceive the world and are likeliest to be remembered and valued half a century from now. The names I’ve come up with are Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson, Federico Fellini, Samuel Fuller, Jean-Luc Godard, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa, Nagisa Oshima, Alain Resnais, and Ousmane Sembene.

Only five have had their most recent feature distributed in the U.S. — Bergman, Bresson, Kubrick, Kurosawa, and Sembene. Fellini may have recently earned a special Oscar, but that doesn’t mean we can expect to see his latest film anytime soon, and though Godard’s next-to-last feature, Nouvelle vague, has finally come out on video, that doesn’t mean we can expect to see it properly, on a big screen.

We can, however, see nearly all of Antonioni’s work — 14 of his 15 feature films and most of the dozen or so shorts — in brand-new prints at the Film Center this month and next.… Read more »