Our website has the show times for
Friday, April 6, through Thursday April 12
|Holding over for another week. Some titles will have limited shows.
|IN DARKNESS --R (Subtitled)|
By Mick LaSalle
To give the highest recommendation to a Holocaust movie is to anticipate a certain resistance in the reader. Such resistance is understandable. One might think that years and years of seeing Holocaust movies would create an immunity, a point at which you can feel no more. But in fact, it works the other way. The more you see, the worse it gets, so that at the beginning of "In Darkness," watching the Nazis march naked Polish women into the woods, toward their own mass grave, I just didn't want to go there again.
But "In Darkness" is an extraordinary movie, and somehow good art creates its own uplift. This Agnieszka Holland film rises to its subject, so that the overall experience of it is far from dispiriting. Poland's candidate for the best foreign film Oscar - it has a real chance of winning on Sunday - deals with real-life events in the city of Lvov, in the last year of the German occupation. It's a gripping piece of history and also an exploration into the mysteries of the human soul.
The mysterious soul in question is that of Leopold Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz), a Polish Christian who works as a sewer worker but augments his income with shady deals and thievery. Socha is nice enough to his wife and daughter, but there is no way to call him a nice guy.
One day, a group of Jews comes to him and asks for his help because he knows the sewers better than anybody, and he can hide them there. He agrees, but for a price. He has no apparent human sympathy and, at first, even considers double-crossing them.
But something happens inside Socha - and this is a big part of what makes "In Darkness" so effective and truthful: The change in him is never stated in an overt way. Nor is there some Movie Moment of transition, in which he goes from mercenary to compassionate. Rather we just watch as his life becomes increasingly taken up with bringing food and provisions to the Jews in hiding, despite considerable personal risk. We see the change in him expressed in action and in hints, just hints in Wieckiewicz's wonderful performance, that there are hidden depths here. The "darkness" of the title might easily describe the human soul, and it's where much of the movie takes place.
Physically, much of the movie takes place in the sewers (with part of the movie filmed in an actual sewer), and though the frame is dark, the setting is vivid - you can almost smell it and feel the damp. If Socha isn't all bad, the Jews are not especially virtuous. They are people under extreme stress, each one handling it differently, some worse than others, not one Gandhi in the bunch. The spectacle is not of horrible things happening to good people, but of horrible things happening to regular people - that's closer to home and more unsettling. And as they bicker underground, atrocities are taking place above.
Holland never loses track of the grand movements, but she's at her most brilliant finding the subtleties of interaction in David F. Shamoon's screenplay - the strange look, for example, that crosses Socha's eyes when he talks with his Nazi friend, a Ukrainian who has found a place in Hitler's army. Perhaps the mystery of Socha's soul, the reason he risked everything, resided to a large part in simple orneriness, an unwillingness to be told what to do.
This may, in the end, be Holland's point, though if you see "In Darkness," you might very well come up with something different: It's possible to have courage without humanity. But it's impossible to have humanity without courage.
|PINA --R |
PINA is a feature-length dance film with the ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, featuring the unique and inspiring art of the great German choreographer, who died in the summer of 2009.
PINA is a film for Pina Bausch by Wim Wenders.
He takes the audience on a sensual, visually stunning journey of discovery into a new dimension: straight onto the stage with the legendary Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch ensemble, he follows the dancers out of the theatre into the city and the surrounding areas of Wuppertal - the place, which for 35 years was the home and centre for Pina Bausch's creativity.
|THE ARTIST -- PG-13
Hollywood 1927. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent movie superstar. The advent of the talkies will sound the death knell for his career and see him fall into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), it seems the sky's the limit - major movie stardom awaits. THE ARTIST tells the story of their interlinked destinies.
NOMINATED FOR BEST PICTURE!
|A SEPARATION --R (Subtitled)|
'A Separation" manages such a sublime balance of complexity and clarity, of the unique and familiar, that it's breathtaking.
This is, simply put, one of the best films I've ever seen. And I've seen a few films. Written and directed by Iranian Asghar Farhadi, "A Separation" starts out as a domestic drama, then morphs into something resembling a murder mystery, all the while wrestling with the natures of truth and justice, right and wrong. It's about family, and society, and honor, and love ... good heavens, what isn't it about?
Well, it's not about space aliens or superheroes. Possibly the most stunning thing about "A Separation" is its remarkable originality.
The film begins with wife Simin (Leila Hatami) arguing in court for a divorce from husband Nader (Peyman Moadi).
She wants the family to move away from Iran for the good of their daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi, the director's daughter). He does not want to abandon his dementia-riddled father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi). She pleads for a divorce so she can leave; the court denies her.
OK, so the movie's about a family dealing with divorce and dementia, right? Hardly.
Simin moves back in with her family, Nader and Termeh continue to care for the old man. Nader hires a lower-class woman named Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to care for the man during the day, while he's at work and Termeh's at school.
Unfortunately, Razieh is distracted by both her own little daughter (Kimia Hosseini) and tensions at home with her husband, Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini). This leads to a literal falling out with Nader that ends up endangering both families.
For a long while, director Farhadi offers up lies while keeping the truth elusive, both in terms of the story and the characters themselves. The facts of the situation are eventually resolved; the effect of those facts may never be.
Aside from Simin's initial motivation to take her family out of Iran, "A Separation" is not a political film or a film that is in any way critical of Islam. It moves with complete comfort within the norms of its culture, and that ease makes the film simultaneously more fascinating and genuine feeling.
But if the film is comfortable in its surroundings and culture, it is in no way satisfied with the universal human condition. Messes pile upon messes here, the way messes might pile upon messes anywhere, and the results range from wearying to devastating.
The film's most effective moment finds the teen Termeh silently exchanging a wary, worried look with Razieh's much younger daughter. This is the world they will inherit? This is the future?
"A Separation" offers a complex and layered story about flawed characters trying to make their way through life, stumbling, fumbling and often desperate. These people seem so real they might live next door. And they probably do.
| THE IRON LADY --PG-13|
THE IRON LADY is a surprising and intimate portrait of Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep), the first and only female Prime Minister of The United Kingdom. One of the 20th century's most famous and influential women, Thatcher came from nowhere to smash through barriers of gender and class to be heard in a male dominated world.
|OTHER STUFF: THE ARTIST AND LESS REFINED PURSUITS...|
Why do I like THE ARTIST? Aside from the fact it played at the "other" theater first, and we got it TWO DAYS before it won Best Picture, it's a film that is not for everyone. No, I'm not suggesting there is a section of people that should not see it. I think everyone should see it, and see it again if they don't get it. We are in an age where movies are poured into the viewer's skull via major assaults upon your senses. Full digital, 7.1 surround sound, and 3D are all the rage. This is what Roger Ebert had to say about 3D: "3-D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension. Hollywood's current crazy stampede toward it is suicidal. It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience. For some, it is an annoying distraction. For others, it creates nausea and headaches." So here we are in a moment in time when a good storyline is being sacrificed at the alter of sensation and adrenalized banality, because that is where the money is. And what movie wins the Best Picture Oscar for 2011? A silent, black and white movie shot in an aspect ratio from the 1930s.
But we at the Darkside do not take ourselves too seriously. For instance, we booked CALIFORNIA 90420 to be played April, 20th. Also, we are working hard to get the licensing for IRON SKY. After the unexpected success of RARE EXPORTS, stuff like this seems to fall in my lap.
Something many of you do is email me asking me to bring in specific movies. Please keep those requests coming. It's a huge part of the selection process of the movies we play!
|Thank you for supporting the Darkside, now celebrating SIX years in business! That's 15 years if you count the Avalon Cinema!|
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