Eric Rohmer's films are notoriously talky. In his Six Moral Tales, Comedies and Proverbs, and Tales of the Four Seasons cycles, the restlessly sexy, searching characters spend most of their time lounging on lawn chairs and engaging one another in meandering, often faltering, philosophical exchanges on topics from temptation and renunciation to the charms of lettuce.
Mira Nair's new comic melodrama Monsoon Wedding opens with a shot of a frowning man trying to prop up a traditional Indian marigold bower, then flits straight to his agitated cordless-phone conversation with a clownish "event manager." As we soon learn, the frowning man is Lalit Verma (Naseeruddin Shah), a well-to-do New Delhi suburbanite, and the event is the arranged marriage of his only daughter to an engineer who lives in Houston. Within seconds, the underlying theme of this likable if somehow scatterbrained movie -- the fusion and occasional confusion of ancient and modern, local and global, solemn and silly -- has already been established.
Orphaned Cambodian amputees, Bosnian war widows, prepubescent Liberian soldiers, Rwandan rape victims forced to bear and raise the children of their attackers. . . . The upcoming Human Rights Watch International Film Festival (which will travel to Boston, New York, Berkeley, and London over the course of the next few months) plunges viewers headlong into an ocean of misery so vast and so dark, we feel ourselves drowning.
A description of sandi Simcha DuBowski's documentary Trembling Before
G-d sounds like the start of a bad ethnic joke: Did you hear the one about the
gay Orthodox Jew? The film, however, is no joke at all, as it focuses on the dire
plight of religiously devout Jewish homosexuals.
Set in a single, grim Michigan motel room, Richard Linklater's latest
film, Tape, has an air of let's-put-on-a-movie spontaneity--and
concentration--that's often missing from contemporary American pictures. This
refreshing charge derives in part from the film's terse concept (a trio of
high-school friends are reunited 10 years after graduation), but it also comes
from the low-cost, less-fuss new digital video technology that Linklater is
toying with here.