Daily Archives: February 17, 2006

Husband And Wife

Also known as A Couple, this 1953 Japanese feature is another of Mikio Naruse’s dramas about unhappy marriages, the tension exacerbated in this case by the fact that the spouses (Ken Uehara, Yoko Sugi) share living space with a quirky landlord (Rentaro Mikuni). The ending is uncharacteristically hopeful, and the film is notable for its references to abortion and its dashes of Anglo-American culture (a performance by a Chaplin impersonator, renditions of Jingle Bells and Silent Night). In Japanese with subtitles. 87 min. (JR)… Read more »

Iberia

As in Flamenco (1995), Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura places live music and dance in the abstract space of a soundstage, effectively isolating his material (in this case, music by 19th-century composer Isaac Albeniz) from its social and historical roots. The various numbers are named after locations in southern Spain, but despite all the mirrors, shadows, and projections of period photographs, the ambience is decidedly postmodern (some orchestrations reek of cool jazz, while some dance steps suggest Bob Fosse). The most striking effects in this 2005 feature involve fancy lighting on what looks like yards of cellophane and, at the end, a rainstorm. One can certainly enjoy the performances, but only inside a rather sterile spacio-temporal void. 99 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Ister

Australian graduate students David Barison and Daniel Ross named this sweeping 2004 video essay after a Friedrich H… Read more »

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

Laurence Sterne’s 18th-century masterpiece The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is still the best of all avant-garde novels, and most of the fun of watching this screen version is wondering how writer Martin Hardy and director Michael Winterbottom will adapt what’s plainly unadaptable. They manage to anticipate almost every possible objection (even finding a cinematic equivalent for Sterne’s purposely blank page). This farce eventually runs out of steam, devolving into a protracted docudrama about actor Steve Coogan (who plays the title hero as well as his father), but until then this is a pretty clever piece of jive. With Rob Brydon (as Toby), Dylan Moran (as Dr. Slop), Keeley Hawes, and Shirley Henderson. R, 94 min. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Pipers Alley.… Read more »