Daily Archives: February 13, 1998

Oriental Elegy

An astonishingly beautiful and hypnotic 1996 video by Alexander Sokurov, most of it in black and white, but with brief patches in color and sepia. Basically it’s a 45-minute mood piece with a disembodied narrator who moves through a village on a remote Japanese island that’s wreathed in mist; the sound track consists of Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Wagner, and traditional Russian and Japanese music. At times the vague narrative suggests a gothic novel, though the ending recalls one of the final images in Tarkovsky’s Solaris. One shot of the mist rising over the village is worthy of Murnau’s Faust, and most of the rest resembles a series of fine engravings in constant, dreamlike flux. In Russian with subtitles. (JR)… Read more »

The Apostle

The Apostle

Robert Duvall is the writer, director, executive producer, and star of this commanding 1997 portrait of a southern Pentecostal preacher, but far from being any sort of one-man show, this feature is powerful mainly for what it has to say about a community and a way of life. Duvall’s character is a troubled and troubling scoundrel who critically assaults a younger preacher (Todd Allen) who’s taken his wife (Farrah Fawcett), then hightails it from Texas to Louisiana in flight from the law to start a new congregation. He remains a morally ambiguous figure throughout, but in defiance of the usual Elmer Gantry stereotype, the film never questions the sincerity of his religious beliefs. The fact that he’s inspired by black preachers and preaches to integrated (but mainly black) congregations only adds to the complicated response we’re invited to have, though Duvall’s direction of a mix of professional and nonprofessional actors, especially in the extended church sessions, is never less than masterful. His gifts for storytelling are more uneven but, under the circumstances, less relevant. A fresh and open-minded look at a major strain in American life that’s rarely depicted with any lucidity, this is an invigorating achievement. With Miranda Richardson, John Beasley, Rick Dial, and Billy Bob Thornton.… Read more »

Oriental Elegy

Oriental Elegy

An astonishingly beautiful and hypnotic 1996 video by Alexander Sokurov, most of it in black and white, but with brief patches in color and sepia. Basically it’s a 45-minute mood piece with a disembodied narrator who moves through a village on a remote Japanese island that’s wreathed in mist; the music consists of Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Wagner, and traditional Russian and Japanese music. At times the vague narrative suggests a gothic novel, though the ending recalls one of the final images in Tarkovsky’s Solaris. One shot, of the mist rising over the village, is worthy of Murnau’s Faust, and most of the rest resembles a series of fine engravings in constant, dreamlike flux. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday and Saturday, February 13 and 14, 7:00 and 9:00, and Sunday, February 15, 5:30 and 7:30, 773-281-4114. –Jonathan Rosenbaum… Read more »