Atrocity Exhibitions

The greatest emphasis is on Eichmann's performance. His peculiar half-smile as he listens through a headset to the testimony against him is unnerving and disarming. (You should have seen the balding, bespectacled clerk—a self-identified "specialist" in forced emigration—when he was costumed in his SS uniform of absolute power.) Eichmann is clever enough to suggest that he is really a Zionist and stupid enough to insist that he improved conditions on the transports to Treblinka. He is fastidious in his language, precise in his evasions, anxious to seem reasonable, deferential to authority. This born flunky always stands to speak—one assumes he also clicks his heels—an appropriate tactic for a man who, arguing for his life, claims only to have followed his superiors' orders.

Sivan further accentuates the differing agendas of the judges, some interrogating Eichmann directly, and the show's real director, prosecutor Giddeon Hausner. Aggressively trying to break down a criminal bureaucrat who had no official function apart from his mandated task of facilitating the extermination of Jews, Hausner grows increasingly sarcastic. When cornered, however, Eichmann holds his ground: "I refuse to reveal my inner feelings," he sulks, taking refuge in his own enigma as the empty suit of institutionalized evil.

Crank call: Bale in American Psycho
photo: Kerry Hayes
Crank call: Bale in American Psycho


American Psycho
Directed by Mary Harron
Written by Harron and Guinevere Turner from the novel by Bret Easton Ellis
A Lions Gate release
Opens April 14

The Specialist
Directed by Eyal Sivan
Written by Sivan and Rony Brauman
A Kino International release
Film Forum
Through April 25

Directed by Joseph Losey
Written by Hugo Butler and Evan Jones from the novel by James Hadley Chase
A Kino International release
Film Forum
April 14 through 20

There's a minor devil on display next door to The Specialist in the person of Jeanne Moreau, the eponymous vixen of Joseph Losey's 1962 film maudit, Eve. After nearly a decade of blacklist-induced exile from Hollywood, Losey was trying to change his (artistic) life. Eve's Italian settings and evocation of jet-set decadence suggest reigning maestros Fellini and Antonioni even as its jazzy camerawork, frantic cutting, and Michel Legrand score scream nouvelle vague. Indeed, Losey actually replaced Jean-Luc Godard as director.

Moreau is a wanton femme fatale who first fascinates Stanley Baker's boorish, blocked writer by turning up uninvited in his Venice pad (complete with a drunken trick) and wandering around half undressed while her trademark record of Billie Holiday singing "Willow Weep for Me" plays in the background. Although engaged to gorgeous Virna Lisi, Baker is captivated, even after Moreau coldcocks him with a glass ashtray. He pursues her to Rome—and for the rest of the movie—as she plays him for a fool. Losey's first cut was incredibly long; his revision ran 155 minutes. The film was shortened several times by its producers. (The excellent new print at Film Forum is the local theatrical premiere of the longest of these releases, hence the Finnish subtitles, but not the director's cut.)

Losey liked to speak of the original Eve as the equivalent of a martyred Stroheim film; the extant version is more a scenario for Theda Bara, the vamp of 1915. Still, the wreckage exerts its own fascination—as does Moreau's quicksilver performance. In many respects, this butchered film is more engagingly nutty than its follow-up, The Servant, the more refined version of Eve's baroque visuals and s/m thematics that would be Losey's biggest international hit.

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