Daily Archives: October 26, 2001

Enigma

As a longtime fan of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, which begins with British code breakers during World War II, I’m a sucker for the romantic and paranoid atmosphere of this thriller on the same subject, adapted by Tom Stoppard from the novel by Robert Harris. Production designer John Beard has a field day, his period re-creations so rich you can taste them, and the fine cast includes Dougray Scott (who suggests a young James Mason), Kate Winslet, Jeremy Northam, and Saffron Burrows (though she’s chiefly used as a glamorous icon). The film has other old-fashioned virtues as well: director Michael Apted’s intelligent and creative use of Hitchcock (the romantic obsession of Vertigo, some of the mechanics of the early English thrillers) is in a different class from Brian De Palma’s literal applications. The two main producers make an interesting team—Lorne Michaels and Mick Jagger, who also turns up as an extra in one of the flashbacks. In ‘Scope; 117 min.… Read more »

Waking Life

Richard Linklater’s exciting and innovative feature (2001) was shot on digital video, then transformed into a new kind of animation that works wonders with the subtleties of body language and creates hallucinatory effects with palpitating backgrounds. There isn’t much of a story in any ordinary sense: a young college graduate walks around Austin, Texas, trying to decide if he’s dreaming or awake. In a way the movie rethinks and replays most of Linklater’s previous features: the overall narrative drift through Austin recalls Slacker; the hero is Dazed and Confused’s Wiley Wiggins; Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are discovered in bed, continuing a conversation they started in Before Sunrise; and Linklater himself puts in a couple of appearances. You might be frustrated if you’re looking for plot rather than movement, action rather than pulsing vibration, but I had a ball. 97 min. (JR)… Read more »

Life and Debt

Stephanie Black’s eye-opening documentary focuses on how the International Monetary Fund has devastated Jamaica’s agriculture and industry, but it also powerfully illustrates what globalization has been doing to underdeveloped countries around the world. An ideal companion to No Logo, Naomi Klein’s bible of the antiglobalization movement, the film shows in depressing detail how Jamaica’s independence from British rule in the early 60s only ripened it for new kinds of exploitation, to the point where today it can no longer afford to use, much less develop, its own resources (unless one counts the tourist trade, which is shown in sarcastic counterpoint to the high interest rates crippling the local economy). The narration, derived by Jamaica Kincaid from her 1988 book A Small Place and read by Belinda Becker, alternates with interviewees ranging from former prime minister Michael Manley to IMF deputy director Stanley Fischer; under it all one hears a generous sampling of Jamaican music from Belafonte to Marley to Buju Banton and Anthony B. 86 min. Music Box, Friday through Thursday, October 26 through November 1. … Read more »