From the Chicago Reader (October 22, 2003). — J.R.
Shot on a shoestring and none the worse for it, Jean-Luc Godard’s gritty and engaging first feature had an almost revolutionary impact when first released in 1960. It lays down most of the Godardian repertoire that the later films would build upon: male bravado spiced with plug-ugly mugging and amusing self-mockery (brought to perfection in Jean-Paul Belmondo’s wonderful performance); a fascination with female beauty and treachery (the indelible Jean Seberg as the archetypal American abroad); an emulation of the American gangster movie, and a love-hatred for America in general; radically employed jump cuts that have the effect of a needle skipping gaily across a record; and a taste for literary, painterly, and musical quotations, as well as original aphorisms. Less characteristic of Godard’s later work are the superb jazz score (by French pianist Martial Solal), a relatively coherent and continuous narrative, and postsynchronized dialogue. In French with subtitles. 89 min. (JR)
In response to the recent death of Ingmar Bergman, the Chicago Cinema Forum has organized a Bergman marathon (Chicagoist termed it a “crash course in Bergman”) to be held at the Chopin Theatre this coming weekend. Included will be the local premiere (two screenings) of a recent three-part, three-hour documentary about Bergman made for Swedish TV and screenings of five major Bergman features: 16-millimeter prints of Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), and Persona (1966), and a DVD projection of the 188-minute version of Fanny and Alexander (1982), a Bergman miniseries that was the last thing he ever shot on film.
All five of the features will be introduced and discussed by local critics. I’ll be trying my hand at Sawdust and Tinsel, and the founder of Chicago Cinema Forum (and organizer of this event), Gabe Klinger, will do Fanny and Alexander; WBEZ producer Alison Cuddy will introduce The Seventh Seal, Time Out Chicago‘s Ben Kenigsberg will introduce Wild Strawberries, and National Louis University prof Robert Keser will introduce Persona. The social aspect of the Chicago Cinema Forum has been a central part of Klinger’s project from the beginning, and two hour-long receptions on Saturday and Sunday, offering a further chance to discuss Bergman, are also scheduled.
From the Chicago Reader (October 21, 2002). — J.R.
Much as A.I. Artificial Intelligence can be considered a posthumous message from Stanley Kubrick, conveyed by a sympathetic interpreter with a style of his own (Steven Spielberg), this can be regarded as the last word from Krzysztof Kieslowski, though delivered by German filmmaker Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and true to his own manner. There aren’t many examples of this in film history — the posthumously realized film projects of Alexander Dovzhenko by his widow, Julia Solntseva, could be cited, but not George Hickenlooper’s extensive revamping of Orson Welles’s The Big Brass Ring — and it’s therefore an accomplishment to be applauded and treasured. Working with his usual cowriter, Krzysztof Piesiewicz, Kieslowski was planning a trilogy loosely inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy when he died, and the script for Heaven was reportedly the only one close to completion. After the police refuse to heed her accusations, an English teacher in Turin (Cate Blanchett) plants a bomb in an office building to destroy a drug dealer she holds responsible for the death of her husband. Her plan goes awry; held for questioning, she insists on speaking English, and the young police officer (Giovanni Ribisi) who offers to translate her testimony immediately falls in love with her.… Read more »