The Promise - The early newsreel footage of Germans forlornly waving handkerchiefs to each other across the lethal barrier of the Berlin Wall shows definite promise. But, sadly, director Margarthe von Trotta's story of two lovers, trapped on different sides of the Wall, seems all too flat and forced. Meret Becker and Anian Zollner are undeniably appealing as the young lovers coping with the agony of separation. Alas they are abruptly replaced by Corinna Harfouch and August Zirner as the adult lovers, a casting decision that simply confuses the viewer.
Antonia's Line - Dutch filmmaker Marleen Gorris retraces the recent progress of modern women in a zesty, highly intriguing feminist fable. Left a widow in the aftermath of World War II Antonia marches on with radiant self-assurance. Her daughter by her side she lovingly presides over an extended family of social rejects and supportive men, creating a feminist dynasty in a stultifying Dutch village where women normally cower in front of their abusive husbands. Actress Willeke Van Ammelrooy is a magnetic presence as the indomitable heroine, tending to even the lowliest farm chores with the regal posture and serene calm of a true queen among women.
A Month By the Lake - Older audiences are bound to be enchanted by director John Irwin's buoyantly funny romantic comedy. For one thing the genteel pre-World War II setting, an elegant Lake Como resort, is a pleasure to behold. For another it's hard to resist cheering on the lanky, adorably perky Vanessa Redgrave as she successfully competes with a simpering Uma Thurman for the attention of the resort's only available man. The tennis match, in which Redgrave first breaks down the defenses of the veddy proper British major (played to crusty perfection by Edward Fox), is truly a comic gem.
Last Summer in the Hamptons - One either loves or loathes the work of longtime Hollywood maverick Henry Jaglom. I know of one film critic who makes it a rule never to see any of his movies for fear it will cost her , her sanity. Her form of avoidance therapy seems a shame for Jaglom's newest movie, a playful Chekhov-inspired comedy that centers around a typically overwrought and hopelessly egocentric theatrical family, is highly entertaining. The director has wisely cast a beloved grande dame of the acting profession, Viveca Lindfors, as the family matriarch, paying tribute to both her admirable career and her own majestic personality. For pure amusement there's Victoria Foyt (otherwise known as Mrs. Jaglom) flouncing about as a nouveau Hollywood star who will seduce anyone for a chance at her first serious role.
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