At a midcareer impasse, Israeli director Amos Kollek turns the camera on himself, logging confessionals on his DV and walking the streets of Manhattan in a last-ditch search for inspiration. The in-lieu-of-a-project documentary, years in the making, clearly took a measure of fortitude for Kollek—also wrestling with the legacy of his ailing father, Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem’s mayor for 28 formative years—to see through. At once downbeat and claustrophobic, it’s also often grueling to watch. The filmmaker—a veteran of Cannes and Berlin bruised by the poor reception of his last Gotham-set feature, 2003’s Happy End (starring Audrey Tautou)—eventually gravitates toward passerby Robin, an addict prostitute in the St. Marks–Tompkins Square corridor whom he likens to “Geena Davis with a touch of Greta Garbo.” Concerned for Robin’s well-being, the married-with-two-daughters Kollek offers his support, but she won’t be saved: Later, the rail-thin user shoots up topless before the camera. Shuttling between Kollek’s career difficulties (actress Ally Sheedy appears, as does New York investor Michael Steinhardt); his troubled quasi-collaboration with Robin (she often leaves the city with little notice); and his visits to family in Israel (he accompanies his father to a ceremony where Bibi Netanyahu is in attendance), Chronicling a Crisis doesn’t shy from searching far and wide for meaning, but groups each disparate concern under the too-general “crisis” rubric. If nothing else, though, this is a film only Kollek could have made.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 2, 2012