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Artists in Love

Do you believe in magic? The reclusive Mr. Kinsky is understandably fascinated by this mysterious willowy creature—timorous yet steely—as she tidies up his objets d'art–crammed palazzo before rushing off to her class in human anatomy. Nor can Bertolucci's camera resist feasting on Shandurai's lissome vulnerability. Much of the movie is a prolonged, spastic flirtation in which Shandurai is drawn to Mr. Kinsky's music (supposedly the very essence of European culture) but repelled when he jumps her with a gulping, snuffling proposal of marriage.

Thus, in a distended short story with a modified O. Henry twist, audience sympathies are reversed. The displaced and persecuted Shandurai appears as haughtily withholding as a fashion model—and has enough outfits to prove it—while kinky Mr. Kinsky turns out to have a soul as big as Little Buddha. The viewer may well question the nature of Kinsky's sacrifice—particularly after hearing his ambitious attempt to fuse Edvard Grieg with Papa Wemba. Suffice to say that his alter ego Bertolucci is not giving up anything—he's far too generous to withhold that which he's been dangling before our eyes.

Recapping The Kid: Ganz and Achilleas Skevis in the glum and tedious Eternity and a Day
Merchant Ivory Films/Artist License
Recapping The Kid: Ganz and Achilleas Skevis in the glum and tedious Eternity and a Day

Details

Eternity and a Day
Written and directed by Theo Angelopoulos
A Merchant Ivory Films release
Opens May 28

Besieged
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
Written by Bertolucci and Clare Peploe
A Fine Line Features release

Bertolucci's fantasy of New Age bwana-dom is not the first Euro art film to contemplate the spectacle of a beautiful African woman alone in the metropolis—just the most fatuous. Distributor New Line should be compelled to show it on a double bill with the Dardenne brothers' 1997 illegal-alien drama La Promesse or, better yet, Ousmene Sembene's 1965 Black Girl—a clear-eyed (no less New Wave) account of misplaced love and neocolonial objectification. Shandurai may speak three or four languages and be an A medical student but, dazzled by the white man's voodoo, she's a tongue-tied, barefoot child of nature at heart.

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