Richard C. Walls

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A square deal The best of the Ann Arbor film fest hits the road September 22, 2004

Recent Articles

  • Lacombe, Lucien

      In this 1974 Louis Malle film set during the waning days of WWII, a young man living in German-occupied France winds up working with the Nazis, which offers him, for the first time in his life, a feeling of empowerment. He relishes his newfound control and ability to evoke fear. When Lucien falls in love with a Jewish girl, he neither knows nor cares about the implications until he’s in over his head.
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  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

      Though set in the early ’70s during China’s Cultural Revolution, this film isn’t a gritty look at that horrendous period in history. Director Dai Sijie, who also wrote the novel the film is based on, lived through those times, and is less interested in focusing on the persecution (and sometimes flat-out murder) of writers, artists and anyone else who showed “bourgeois tendencies,” and more intent on recapturing a period of his youth that he sees through a gloss of nostalgia.
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  • Memory of a Killer

      The centerpiece of this slick and sleazy Belgian thriller is Jan Decleir’s performance as Angelo Ledda, a hit man experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Adapted from a popular Belgian crime novel, the film has its share of action-thriller clichés (Ledda is at times almost superhuman in his ability to get out of tight situations) and unlikely contrivances, but Decleir’s pitch-perfect performance makes it worth seeing — memorable, in fact.
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  • The Fire Within

      The Fire Within Louis Malle’s 1963 low-key portrait of a suicidal writer making one last survey of his life while working up the will to make that final leap into the void. A depressed, alcoholic unable to cope with real life, Alain struggles to balance compromise with integrity.. Filmed in moody black and white and with Erik Satie’s seductively forlorn piano music on the soundtrack, it conjures a feeling of profound sadness without resorting to sentimentality.
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  • Tell Them Who You Are

      Tell Them Who You Are This documentary about acclaimed cinematographer Haskell Wexler is only partly about his turbulent career. Filmed by his son Mark Wexler, the emphasis is more on the relationship between the two, exploring Haskell’s sometimes cold and harsh dealings with Mark, who grew up in the shadow of a famous father, struggling to stake out his own identity.
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