Daily Archives: July 13, 2007

Emil And The Detectives

This 2001 German feature is the fourth adaptation of Erich Kastner’s 1928 novel, about a 12-year-old boy who gets robbed en route to Berlin and enlists a team of street kids (the detectives of the title) to recover his money. I haven’t seen the celebrated first version, released in Germany in 1931, though I suspect its time and place are more hospitable to the tale’s collectivist feeling (the plot has some interesting parallels to Fritz Lang’s M). This version favors action and sight gags over characters or milieu, and it updates the story to include skateboarding, hip-hop, and a different family setup for the young hero. It’s a pretty good kids’ movie, nothing more. In German with subtitles. 111 min. (JR)… Read more »

Lady Chatterley

D.H. Lawrence wrote three versions of the novel that we know as Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Pascale Ferran adapts the second version, John Thomas and Lady Jane (the pet names of Lady Chatterley and her gamekeeper lover for their sex organs) into a masterful 168-minute piece of storytelling (2006) that never ceases to be gripping in spite of its measured pace. Ferran proves that a distinction between sensual and sexual art is worth making. There are also class issues: the heroine (Marina Hands) is happily married to an invalid, impotent war veteran (Hippolyte Girardot) who signals his acceptance of someone else from the same class fathering his heir. But since it’s his gamekeeper (Jean-Louis Coulloc’h), the affair’s kept secret. Ferran’s sureness in charting every step in the couple’s discovery of each other never falters; when they eventually find the opportunity to remove their clothes before having sex, it’s a major achievement, and celebrated as such. In French with subtitles. (JR)… Read more »

Salt For Svanetia

A 1928 silent feature by Mikhail Kalatozov, who years later directed the remarkable I Am Cuba and The Letter That Was Not Sent. In Russian with subtitles. 55 min. (JR)… Read more »