Film Screening 4th September, 2004

Poster for The Human Stain

The Human Stain 

8:00 PM, 4th September, 2004

  • MA
  • 106 mins
  • 2003
  • Robert Benton
  • Nicholas Meyer
  • Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise

The Human Stain is adapted from Phillip Roth's novel. Coleman Silk (Hopkins) is a professor of classics at a prestigious New England college. When a student skips too many classes, Silk refers to the absentee as a 'spook'. The student, as it happens, is African-American. The ensuing row over Silk's choice of language destroys his career and contributes to the death of his wife. Silk finds a friend in writer Nathan Zuckerman (Sinise). To the bewilderment of many, he also begins a relationship with janitor Faunia Farley (Kidman). The story is complicated by Silk's carefully contrived identity, which resembles a Russian matrushka doll.

Hopkins gives a great depiction of a defiant, old man unwilling to wait for decrepitude to set in and too proud to remake himself to satisfy the lazy new prejudices that have replaced the old ones. Kidman's Faunia is convincing and finely nuanced.

The Human Stain is a quietly angry and disillusioned depiction of American academic life in the Clinton era. A moving comment on the follies of political correctness, the inadequacy of identity, last chances and the fragility of our place in the world, it engages these issues without ranting.

Phillip Hilton

Poster for Sex and Lucia

Sex and Lucia 

10:06 PM, 4th September, 2004

  • R
  • 98 mins
  • 2002
  • Julio Medem
  • Julio Medem
  • Paz Vega, Tristan Ulloa, Najwa Nimri, Elena Anaya, Javier Camara, Daniel Freire

Sit up the back. The movie is full of lush, sun-drenched images; why Julio Medem felt the need to ruin the effect by shooting on digital video is a mystery to me, but don't sit too close to the screen and it won't look too bad.

The word "sex" in the title isn't misleading, but if it weren't for the title, I wouldn't have thought the film was about sex at all. And I still don't. The sex is Mediterranean garnish; its presence in the title means nothing. So what is the film about? Hard to say. I get a headache just thinking about it. You won't get a headache watching the film - the headache comes afterwards; and even then, only if you try to write a synopsis. Here's my attempt: Lorenzo (Ulloa) is a writer. His girlfriend Luc((iacute))a (Vega) runs off to an island inhabited by one of his former lovers, who is also, in some indescribable way, a pure creation, a character in one of his novels. Perhaps everyone is a pure creation of Lorenzo's, including Lorenzo himself. I don't have the slightest clue, and nor will you. You're not meant to work it out. Just lie back in the sun and soak in the fantasy. The sex too, if you want.

Henry Fitzgerald