Hip-hop culture was already well established
back in 1983 when Charles Ahearn's documentary-style drama Wild
Style came out, and even then it
was confronting the issues of authenticity and commercialism that it faces
today. Here Zoro (Lee Quinones), a Bronx graffiti artist, practices his art on
the margins of criminality until lured from the 'hood by tony Manhattan gallery people.
Another stirring exploration of the power, for good or
ill, of the religious sensibility is Michael Powell's Black Narcissus (1947). In it, a troubled nun played by Deborah
Kerr (stunning in a wimple), joins three other sisters, some of whom even
shakier than she is, in reviving a mission situated high in the Himalayas.
For 29 years Montreal has held an International
Festival Of Films On Art and the MFA has taken advantage of this by screening
the prize winners. This year the series runs through September 15 and starts
today with two seemingly disparate documentaries. Marc Daniels's Comic Books Go to War
(2009; 11 am) explores how comic book artists use their imagination and skills
to make the horror of warfare comprehensible.
Surely our media will soon be overflowing with
commemorations of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. If you're looking for a
low-key, sober way to acknowledge this grim milestone, there's James Whitaker's
documentary Rebirth. Seven
Up!-style, it follows the lives of five people affected
by the event - a fireman, a survivor, and three who lost family members -
interviewing them every year on that awful date.
Video slightly NSFW
Nine years after nearly ending his extraordinary film
career with his brilliant, disturbing, and reviled Peeping
(1960), Michael Powell returned to the screen with a bit of voyeurism that was
easier on the eyes. Age
Of Consent (1969), which would prove
to be his last feature, stars James Mason as an aging artist who retires to an
Australian island to seek inspiration and finds it the form of a nubile, often-nude
beauty played by a 20-something Helen Mirren.
One of Boston's most vital and exciting film events, the Roxbury International Film Festival,
now in its 13th year, begins tonight with Davey Frankel and Rasselas Lakew's The Athlete (2009), a
biopic mixing dramatization and documentary about Abebe Bikila, the first black
African to win an Olympic gold medal in the men's marathon - which he ran
barefoot, no less.
The Sleeping Beauty
Always a must-see cinema event, The
Boston French Film Festival at the MFA opens with laughs this year as it
screens Philippe Le Guay's The Women on the Sixth Floor
(2010; July 7 @ 7:30 pm; July 9 @ 5:40 pm), a comedy about a bevy of Spanish
housekeepers who turn a staid bourgeois family upside down.
As politicians take aim once again at all the
advances made in women's rights over the past four decades, it might be worth a
look back at some of those women who pioneered the cause. Lynn
Hershman Leeson's Women Art Revolution chronicles how feminist artists took issue with the male domination of culture
and politics in the '70s and set in motion what some consider the most
significant art movement of the period.
Whether or not they are the biggest game out there in
the cultural jungle, the three disparate artists in Ben Lewis's documentary
triptych Art Safari: Maurizio Cattelan, Matthew Barney,
And Takashi Murakami (2009), are a lot of fun. He takes
Cattelan's whimsical sculptures, Barney's surreal Cremaster films, and
Murakami's creepily childlike collections of oddities as seriously as they
deserve to be.
Of late, animation has gone beyond kid stuff to
historical tragedy. Witness Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir (2008), a nightmarish, autobiographical
memoir of the 1980s invasion of Lebanon
from the point of view of a green Israeli soldier. The first film in the MFA's
"Hollywood Scriptures" series, it's followed by a panel discussion with Steven
Nisenbaum of the Harvard Medical School and Rina Folman, a psychologist at
UMass Memorial Health Alliance.
A Screaming Man (2010)
Just as English
means more than England, French means more than France, as can be seen in the
Museum of Fine Arts' Francophone Film Festival. One such Francophone country is the
African nation of Chad, the setting for A Screaming Man
(2010), Saleh Haroun's tale of a hotel pool attendant struggling for survival
during a civil war.
Any preconceptions about what constitutes Jewish film,
or film in general, might be shattered by this year's Jewishfilm.2011, one of local cinema's most noteworthy
events. Take the opening-night feature, Avi Mosher's shaggy-dog drama The Matchmaker (Once I Was) (2010). Set in
1968 Haifa, it
depicts the initiation into adulthood of a teenager who learns about life from
the title relationship broker.
One of the world's most vital regions for film is showcased in
the Museum of Fine Arts series New Latin American Cinema.
It opens today with Brazilian directors Felipe Braganca and Marina Meliande's The Joy ( 2010 | 5:45 pm)
in which the ghost of a murdered youth seeks refuge with his teenaged cousin.
It screens along with Colombian director Oscar Ruiz Navia's Crab Trap (2009 | 8 pm), a
naturalistically shot story about a man who encounters a young girl in an
environmentally ravaged coastal town and is smitten by her innocence.
Spike Lee burst into prominence in 1989 with one of
his best and certainly one of his most provocative films, Do the Right Thing (1989). Lee also stars, as a deliveryman
for a white-owned pizzeria in a black Brooklyn neighborhood who gets caught up
in the middle of racial conflict. It screens tomorrow at the Museum of Fine Arts at 1:30