Daily Archives: March 3, 2006

The Intruder

Like many other films by the gifted and original Claire Denis, this ambitious and mysterious 2004 French feature is something I admire without especially liking. Michel Subor (Beau Travail) plays a man who gets a black-market heart transplant and goes to Tahiti in search of his long-lost son; the difficult story, inspired by philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s book about his own transplant, might be called French to a fault, though I’m not convinced that the most fruitful approach to this brooding and provocative work is through its narrative. The impressive ‘Scope cinematography is by Denis’ frequent collaborator Agnes Godard. With Gregoire Colin. In French with subtitles. 130 min. (JR)… Read more »

The City Of The Sun

Four factory workers who’ve lost their jobs try to find new livelihoods while coping with families or girlfriends in this 2005 comedy with tragic undertones, a coproduction of Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Director Martin Sulik has an unfortunate taste for stuttering zooms and bargain-basement rock, but what he gets from his actors is so fine and textured that this gradually won me over. Also known as Working Class Heroes. In Czech and Slovak with subtitles. 99 min. (JR)… Read more »

Aquamarine

Adapted from a children’s book by Alice Hoffman, this first feature by Elizabeth Allen can be read as an allegory about teenage girls navigating puberty. Two best friends (Emma Roberts and Joanna Jojo Levesque), both smitten with a hunky local lifeguard (Jake McDorman) in their Florida hometown, discover a mermaid named Aquamarine (Sara Paxton) who’s been washed ashore during a storm. She’s trying to escape from an arranged marriage and has three days to prove that true love exists, so the friends try to nurture a romance between her and the lifeguard. The story has its hokey moments (There’s something very fishy about that girl), but the sincerity and focus of the storytelling compensate. PG, 109 min. (JR)… Read more »

Der Rosenkavalier

Robert Wiene (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the underrated Raskolnikow) directed this silent 1925 Austrian adaptation of the Richard Strauss opera. The composer, librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and many other contributors to the opera’s original 1911 Dresden production worked on this film, which is being shown with Strauss’s orchestral sound track. 88 min. (JR)… Read more »

Capturing The Friedmans

Powerful and haunting, this upsetting documentary by Andrew Jarecki examines the scandals enveloping an upper-middle-class Jewish family in suburban Long Island, as the father and a teenage son are accused of sexually abusing countless boys. The story unfolds over many years, with as many carefully delayed revelations as in a well-plotted fiction film, and though Jarecki raises a good many questions about the Friedmans that he doesn’t entirely resolve, his exploration of the larger issuespolice investigations, community hysteria, and the family members’ obsession with filming themselvesis much more revealing. 107 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Boys of Baraka

In 2002, 20 black seventh graders from Baltimore’s inner city, many of them from troubled homes, were sent to Baraka, an experimental boarding school in Kenya. Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady spent three years following four of them, and the resulting documentary is sensitive, intelligent, enlightening, and sometimes surprising. Ewing and Grady give us a nuanced sense of these boys’ options, and it’s typical of their attention to detail that during a long-distance phone call, cameras in Baraka and Baltimore record both sides of the conversation. 85 min. Music Box.… Read more »