The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 21, 1992 · Page 77
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The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page 77

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Friday, February 21, 1992
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Page 77
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Friday,, Feto?L 1992, ,.;-r The Philadelphia Inquirer , 3 1 E MOVIE OPENINGS riJi ' 1 I "TP, In "Daughters of rhe Dusr," Marcus Humphrey (left), Bernard Wilson, Trula Hoosier and Barbara-0 (right). A Southern black family at a crossroads By Carrie Rickey INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC That no women emerged among the ranks of gifled directors during last year's black film renaissance naturally gave rise to the suspicion that Hollywood is more sexist than it is racist. How could it be that the vividly imagistic novels by African American women dominating the best-seller lists lacked for cinematic counterparts? Those looking for the Alice Walker of African American cinema need wait no longer. Julie Dash, independent filmmaker who makes her lyrical debut feature with Daughters of the Dust, quilts an eye-dazzler in her movie set in 1902 off the Georgia coast. On this sea island, pines and palms commingle as casually as the Islamic, San-i teria and Christian traditions. Resisting conventional narrative, Dash REVIEW DAUGHTERS OF THE OUST Produced by Julie Dash and Arthur Jafa, written and directed by Julie Dash, photography by Arthur Jafa, music by John Barnes, distributed by Kino International. Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes. Nana Peazant Cora Lee Day Eula Peasant Alva Rogers Yellow Mary Barbara-0 Eli Peazant Adisa Anderson Viola Peazant - Cheryl Lynn Bruce Mr. Snead Tommy Hicks Parent's guide: No rating (mature themes) Showing at: Ritz at the Bourse surveys the scraps of the Peazant family's memorabilia and pieces together their vivid history. Because they have lived away from the mainland, the Peazants have been able to preserve African traditions. Their culture is called Gullah, after their musical dialect. Most movies take you through the alphabet of plot from A to Z. Daughters of the Dust, which accumulates diverse elements and blends them together, takes its structure from quilting or cooking. Like the succulent gumbo its characters enjoy, the film is made up of colorful kernels and chunks, simmered slowly to make something greater than the sum of its parts. Suffused with the golden and scarlet colors of corn and tomatoes, Daughters of the Dust is delectable-looking. The film rewards the patient viewer who succumbs to its trancelike spell and understands that the movie is about the rhythms and rituals of a culture remembered. Brilliantly evoking the lives of this clan descended from Africans captured into slavery and emancipated after the Civil War, Daughters of the Dust takes place at a family (Continued on Page 6) Love amid the destruction of the intifadah By Carrie Rickey INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC According to the provocative and melancholy Canticle of the Stones, since the intifadah began the Israeli army has prohibited Palestinian children in the occupied territories from playing with marbles. Reason being that those tiny orbs can be hurled like stones and thus are weapons. Children being children, they improvised. Now the kids play "marbles" with the plastic bullets the Israelis aim at those who participate in the Palestinian uprising. The film is directed by Michel Khleifi, a Palestinian whose 1987 Wedding in Galilee dis-armingly chronicled Palestinian nuptials supervised by Israeli authorities. The new movie is a far more bitter affair. Both in its structure and its content the new movie expresses the battles of those living in the occupied territories. By interspersing documentary footage with a dramatized romance, Khleifi splits the personality of his film. REVIEW CANTICLE OF THE STONES Produced by Sourat Films, written and directed by Michel Khleifi, photography by Raymond Fromont, music by Jean-Marie Senia. In Arabic with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 46 mins. The Man Makram Khouri The Woman Boushra Karaman Parent's guide: No rating (violence, gore, sexual suggestion, mature themes) Showing at: Neighborhood FilmVideo Project at International House, 3701 Chestnut St., tonight at 7:30, Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at S and 7:30 p.m. Accordingly, its mood swings from political manifesto to love poem. This depends on whether the camera is trained on the armed conflict between Palestinians and Israelis or on the intimate struggle between two lovers who have been separated for many years. Though the shifts from romantic drama to documentary seem jarring initially, Khleifi successfully integrates them by using the intifadah as a violent backdrop to the tenderness between a female scholar, Boushra Karaman, and a male political prisoner, Makram Khouri, who has just been released from jail after IS years. Enclosed in a series of plush rooms recalling the erotic scenes from Hiroshima, Mon Amour, the couple seem protected from the random violence that claims so many lives. Yet they are not. After the audience has been treated to documentary footage of Palestinian teenagers whose stomachs have been perforated by Israeli bullets, the male in the couple speaks morosely about forgoing children. What father wants to leave his heirs this bullet-riddled patrimony? Most effectively, the disruptions between documentary and dramatic sequences convey the texture of lives that have been inexorably disrupted by relocation and occupation. Canticle of the Stones is a very powerful and unapologeti-cally partisan document Trash-strewn tale of comic with 3 arms By Desmond Ryan INQUIRER MOVIE CRITIC Everywhere the camera looks in The Dark Backward, an exercise in puerile and self-conscious grossness masquerading as satire, there is garbage. It is heaped in towering landfills and it flies in blizzards of trash and debris along the dark alleys of an unnamed city. The point that writer-director Adam Rifkin wants to make is that we live in a garbage-ingarbage-out culture. He makes it with a film that is mostly garbage itself. The Dark Backward (a title presumably designed to identify the level of intelligence to which Rifkin is appealing) is bizarre enough to earn a secure place on the midnight movie circuit. But Rifkin doesn't know the difference between using excess to make a satirical point and wallowing in the very sins he wishes to criticize. The question at the junk-strewn center of The Dark Backward is not one that has been giving anyone sleepless nights lately (although Rifkin's depiction of impromptu necrophilia in the middle of a landfill might): Is the world's worst stand-up comic better if he delivers his one-liners while gesturing with three arms instead of two? The quandary is raised in the unprepossessing person of Marty Malt, owner of the only polyester leisure suit surviving from the disco era and a repertoire of astoundingly bad jokes. Malt works as a trashman with his friend Gus, who plays the accordion and boosts his understandably flagging confidence as a moonlighting club comedian. When a third arm grows out of Marty's back (hey, we're not making this up), he does not do the sensible thing and head for the slot machines in Atlantic City. Instead, he bills himself as "Desi the Three-Armed Comic," and his life changes. The few moments when The Dark Backward rises to the faintly amusing belong exclusively to Wayne Newton, as the sleazy talent agent who sees his meal ticket in Marty. Newton's take on the lower reaches of show business aided by a cameo from even sleazier promoter Rob Lowe (the same function he fills in Wayne's World) is knowing and funny. But it's hardly enough to spare us the tedium of a director who thinks the best way to drive home the fact that his comedian is woefully inept is to have him repeat the same excruciating jokes. Rifkin has framed his strange invention with a vision of a junk city where everything is owned by a corporation called Blump. The company exploits what I suppose might be called the blumpen proletariat of the metropolis. The actors try very hard in The Dark Backward, but the conception is so bad that they end up being merely trying. REVIEW THE DARK BACKWARD Produced by Brad Wyman and Cassian Elwes, directed and written by Adam Rifkin, photography by Joey Forsyte, music by Marc David Decker, distributed by Greycat Films. Running time: 1 nr., 44 mins. Marty Malt Judd Nelson Gus Bill Paxton Jackie Chrome Wayne Newton Rosarita Lara Flynn Boyle Dr. Scurvy James Caan Parent's guide: R (sex, profanity) Showing 1: Roy Screening Room

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