Archive for November 13th, 2009

by Sam Juliano

     “This building is the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Holland, the home of the prime collection of Dutch painting.  The Rijksmuseum is currently the scene of a shooting.  The relevant authorities should investigate.”

     So intones British director Peter Greenaway in an inimitible voice that warns it’s listeners that a cover-up has been sustained for almost four-hundred years, and that one of Western culture’s most iconic figures may well have been the prime perpetrator of the deception.  Greenaway boldly announced that The Night Watch, which he states is the fourth most famous painting of all-time (behind three Italian works – DaVinci’s Mona Lisa and The Last Supper and  Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel) is basically an expose for a murder.  The painting, which features civilian militiamen responding to an alarm, is a prime example of what Greenaway considers to be a kind of painted theatre, and in later contentions the director suggests that the ramifications of the questions raised in regards to the real intention of the work, brought about Rembrandt’s fall from grace. 

    The documentary, Rembrandt’s J’Accuse, is basically an expansion to the director’s 2007 fictional feature, Nightwatching, which was a far more general consideration of the artist and his most famous work, but while it was part of a larger celebration of Rembrandt’s 400th birthday, it stopped short of launching the inquiry that lies at the center of this new film. (more…)


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(USA 1993 195m) DVD1/2

He who saves one life saves the world entire

p  Steven Spielberg, Gerald R.Molen, Branko Lustig  d  Steven Spielberg  w  Steven Zaillan  book  “Schindler’s Ark” by Thomas Keneally  ph  Janusz Kaminski  ed  Michael Kahn  m  John Williams  art  Allan Starski  cos  Anna Biedrzycka-Sheppard

Liam Neeson (Oskar Schindler), Ben Kingsley (Itzhak Stern), Ralph Fiennes (Amon Goeth), Caroline Goodall (Emilie Schindler), Jonathan Sagalle (Poldek Pfefferberg), Embeth Davidtz (Helen Hirsch), Malgosha Gebel (Victoria Clonowkska), Andrzej Seweryn, Norbert Weisser, Elina Lowensohn, Schmulik Levy, Mark Ivanir,

Steven Spielberg’s film of Thomas Keneally’s praised book is surely the most personal cinematic masterpiece ever filmed, as well as the most universally proclaimed film of its decade.  But to call it merely a personal film would seem to be not only disrespectful as, though Schindler’s List may be a flawed masterpiece, a masterpiece it most definitely is.

            It has been said by some people that Schindler himself is associated with Spielberg and that this film is his dream project, one which only a director of his standing would be able to undertake (yet even so he still tried to persuade Roman Polanski to do it, though he would wait until The Pianist to tackle the Holocaust).  Spielberg dares to have his camera as impersonal towards each individual atrocity as it would have been to the robotic Nazis committing them, knowing that this understatement achieves the maximum impact.  It may have a few Spielberg touches of sentimentality – the colour transformation at the end to show the real life Schindler Jews is unnecessary and the colour of the flames and the little girl in the red coat is rather gimmicky – but in general he keeps such sentiment away.   Here at last Spielberg the filmmaker was comfortable in an adult world, with all the censorables that had been so lacking in his more financially lucrative assignments.  That he made his massive hit Jurassic Park in the same year is evident in the fact that certain scenes do have subliminal parallels (one recalls the young boy escaping the Nazis in the Plaszow camp, reminiscent in style to the two kids escaping the raptors in Jurassic).  Mind you, Spielberg doesn’t only borrow from himself, but from his favourite directors.  In the very first shot he cuts from the extinguished candle smoke to that of a train in Krakow station, which pays homage to two David Lean films (the cut from the matchstick to the sunrise in Lawrence of Arabia and that from the glass slide to the tram in Doctor Zhivago).  Other shots recall Kubrick, Kurosawa and even Eisenstein.  This is a cinematic royal family of larceny and it works splendidly.  (more…)

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