Dir. William Wyler; writ. Dalton Trumbo, Ian McLellan Hunter; feat. Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert, Hartley Power, Harcourt Williams (UNRATED)
All good things must come to an end, they say. Sometimes, we trust, those ends are temporary. TPR closes its latest (but not last) round of "Cinema Tuesdays" this week with a classic fairy tale from 1953.
Well, maybe it's not quite a fairy tale, but it certainly has that flavor: Audrey Hepburn is a princess who tires of the stiff formality demanded of her. She sneaks out of her hotel during a tour through Rome, hoping to experience the city through non-royal eyes, and finds herself in both predictable varieties of trouble ("Money? Why would I be carrying that around?") and other, more situation-specific kinds. Fortunately, reporter Gregory Peck is there to help her and to exploit the fact that he knows she's the princess, and she doesn't know he knows.
They fall a little in love, as you might have guessed, but Wyler's film has an elegantly light touch that never quite gives in to the wish-fulfillment scenarios supplied by the plot. His actors alone are enough to make you get all dreamy: Hepburn, simultaneously regal and big-eyed child; Peck, managing to play the opportunist without letting you forget he's Hollywood's embodiment of wholesome virtue. Throw in a screenplay by Trumbo the scribe driven to exile by Red Scare baloney and you have a movie wonderful enough to tide us all over until TPR brightens our big screens again. (Look for the silent classic Wings later in the year, if all goes well.)
These Are Not My Images (Neither Here Nor There)
Thursday, Sept 14, 6:30
Hudson Showroom, ArtPace, 445 N. Main, 212-4900
Israel meets NYC meets India
Israeli-born, New York City-based filmmaker Irit Batsry's These Are Not My Images (Neither Here Nor There) documents the voyage of Batsry, a guide, and a local filmmaker across the province of Tamil Nadu in southern India. The project, which won the Bucksbaum Award at the 2002 Whitney Biennial, artfully melds ethnographic, experimental, narrative, and straight documentary filmmaking into a self-effacing yet stylish hybrid. Much of Batsry's body of work deals with conflict between the self and cultural hegemony; in Images, she is confronted by the added conundrum of total cultural displacement. As a Western filmmaker artificially planted in an alien landscape, Batsry knowingly allows the perspective of her piece to slip between participants, emphasized by both stylistic and semiotic distinctions, but largely retaining a first person viewpoint. The piece communicates first person perspectives other than the filmmaker's through painterly and nonrepresentational imagery that must be filtered and interpreted by the viewer, just as these strangers' words were filtered and subjectified by the director. Thus Batsry's piece prods at an age-old quagmire in ethnographic and documentary filmmaking: how can any element of "truth" be relayed by such a subjective medium as the moving picture? Can an artist, director, or even anthropologist ever really understand what is going on in subjects' mind and translate that information without imparting some amount of themselves upon it? Batsry deals with this question, and with the formal control she exerts over the work, in such a way as to induce dialogue, not dogma.