Video Picks Archive
This week my picks are Besieged (1998 - ) and Last Tango in Paris (1972 - ).
The first film stars Thandie Newton (Beloved) as Shandurai, an African woman whose husband is imprisoned. She moves to Rome and goes to medical school, while working as a housekeeper for Mr. Kinsky (David Thewlis), an English composer. He falls instantly and madly in love with her, but she is still committed to a man she may never see again. Besieged may be pretentious (even for a film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci), but it is a lovely story, and the leads are very good. Look for Newton in future projects such as Bewildered, Begrudged, and Belittled (and some little independent film called Mission: Impossible 2).
Amazingly, Bertolucci's style has hardly changed since he made the second film, arguably his best to date. Marlon Brando plays an American widower in Paris, who has a passionate affair with a strange French girl (Maria Schneider). He insists on no questions, but she is fascinated by his tortured past. Last Tango in Paris was rated X, at a time when it didn't have the stigma it would soon acquire. It has been re-released and re-rated NC-17, but there is an R-rated version with the most graphic (and famous) scene partially obscured by a superimposed light fixture, foreshadowing Kubrick's dilemma with Eyes Wide Shut. 1972 was Brando's last great year, with this film and The Godfather showing his tremendous talent, before he would practically retire from acting.
For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
Ultimo tango a Parigi (1972) (Italian Title)
Guide to Star Ratings
Capsule Reviews © 1999 Matt Heffernan