Even if you missed the first four hours of "A Square of Sky" at the Goethe Institute, its even more rewarding second half is still eminently worth seeing. When we took leave of young Janina Davidowicz and her family, in their increasingly perilous predicament in the Warsaw ghetto, we had every reason to suppose that the worst lay ahead for all of them. But Janina's father, although unable to save himself or his wife, manages to smuggle Janina out of the ghetto and into the care of a glamorous, impetuous, well-connected Warsaw matron (Viktoria Brams).
Unexpectedly, "A Square of Sky," already a masterful example of the superbly wrought, impeccably acted traditional screen narrative, develops into a profoundly affecting spiritual experience as Janina is subsequently sheltered at two convents.
Dana Vavrova, who must manage the difficult task of portraying a girl who grows from 10 to 15, is extraordinary as a once rich and sheltered Jewish child who learns to derive strength from Christianity and its teachings yet finally regains her Jewish identity.
"A Square of Sky, Part II" screens Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Goethe Institute, 8501 Wilshire Blvd. (854-0993) as part of a series of films on the Holocaust which are being presented in conjunction with the Anne Frank in the World Photo Exhibit, 9331 Wilshire Blvd. (213) 653-5979.
Orson Welles' "The Lady From Shanghai" (1947), like his later "Touch of Evil," is an amusing, patchwork baroque divertissement by a man too brilliant to take standard mystery thriller material too seriously. Yet Welles is ever yet able, by the end, to evoke some sense of loss and betrayal experienced by his misbegotten hero, a two-fisted Irish waterfront organizer, Spanish Civil War veteran, would-be novelist and full-time adventurer.
The part begs for Mitchum or Bogart or, better still, the late Sterling Hayden, but the already slightly puffy Welles cast himself opposite his then-wife, Rita Hayworth, who went blond as the gorgeous, lacquered wife of a powerful, crippled San Francisco attorney (Everett Sloane). "The Lady From Shanghai" screens Friday at 1 and 8 p.m. in Bing Theater as part of the County Museum of Art's Orson Welles series. Full schedule: (213) 857-6201.
Kirby Dick's "Private Practices" (at the Nuart Friday and Saturday only) is an exceedingly candid yet discreet documentary on an attractive sexual surrogate, Maureen Sullivan, and two of her clients, Christopher, a handsome but numbingly shy 25-year-old student, and John, a recently divorced 45-year-old overcome by fears of sexual inadequacy. (Apparently they agreed to being photographed in return for free therapy.)
Beyond illuminating the causes and cures for male sexual dysfunction, "Private Practices" is a portrait of a young woman still in search of herself and, beyond that, a chilling commentary on contemporary alienation and the stubborn, crippling persistence of puritanism and machismo . Information: (213) 478-6379, 479-5269.
British film historians and preservationists David Gill and Kevin Brownlow will present Buster Keaton's "Our Hospitality" (1923), which they restored for British television, complete with a new Carl Davis score, at 7:30 tonight at the DeMille-Lasky Barn, 2100 N. Highland Ave. Gill and Brownlow are eager to contact anyone who worked with Keaton in any capacity for their new documentary on him, and their researcher, Linda Phillips, can be reached at (213) 656-410l. Screening information: (213) 655-2557.