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A love letter to Paris

October 07, 2004|Kevin Thomas | Times Staff Writer

After a long European sojourn, Jon Jost, master American independent filmmaker, will personally present the U.S. premiere of his "Oui Non" (1997-2002) at the Egyptian on Sunday. A major work that marks a new direction for this heretofore realist who worked deeply in the American grain, "Oui Non" is a rapturously beautiful visual poem, a homage to everyday Paris, a farewell to the cinema and a welcome to the digital form and all its possibilities, and a consideration of movies as the eternal illusion.

Amid the city's vibrant street life, Helene Fillieres, a beautiful young actress, tells us that she will be playing Georgette, who works at the Magnum photo archives. James Thierree is a handsome young circus trapeze artist who as Gerome will be playing the same. The pair, who fall in love, provide the slender yet sturdy thread upon which Jost strings his visual sonnets to Paris and its people.

Georgette hopes her life will be like a movie with a happy ending, but "Oui Non" is a constant reminder that movies and life are not the same. So deft is Jost, he never lapses into the merely self-conscious. "Oui Non" is instead seductive -- and sublime.


Gillo Pontecorvo's "Queimada" (1969), featuring one of Marlon Brando's finest performances, is a thinking person's blockbuster made on the scale of a DeMille spectacle -- at once an epic adventure, intimate tragedy and urgent protest. An English-language version of the film, "Burn!," 20 minutes shorter, was released in 1970. Now the restored, subtitled "Queimada" will be screened at LACMA.

A depiction of a black rebellion in the mid-19th century on a fictional sugar-planting island in the Caribbean, it is like Pontecorvo's "The Battle of Algiers" in that it is an impassioned cry for freedom. It is a timeless but not heavy-handed indictment of the white man's exploitation of the black man. Brando plays Sir William Walker, sent by the British government to foment a revolution in order to break the foreign sugar trade monopoly.

Red menace

"Bolshevism on Trial" (1919), a satire on the dangers and follies of communism, will be screened tonight at the Hollywood Heritage Museum as part of a presentation by noted film historian Anthony Slide. "Bolshevism" was based on the novel "Comrades" by Thomas Dixon (whose novel "The Clansman" was the basis for D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation"). After the screening, Slide will discuss the film and his new book, "American Racist: The Life and Films of Thomas Dixon."

Manzanar memoir

John Esaki's "Stand Up for Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story" is a heart-wrenching 30-minute drama that deserves to become a feature-length film. It screens Friday at Cal State Long Beach.

Using archival footage, Esaki tells the remarkable story of a 16-year-old Mexican-Irish American who felt the sting of injustice that befell his Japanese American friends at Belmont High School so strongly that he impulsively went along with the family of one of his friends when they were relocated to Manzanar. Ralph Lazo, who died in 1992 at 67, is the only known non-spousal, non-Japanese concentration camp inmate. After the war, Lazo joined the struggle for reparations for Japanese Americans, returned to Manzanar for a 1990 reunion and stayed in touch with his Japanese American friends all his life.

"Stand Up for Justice" was the final film of its executive producer, the late Linda Mabalot, who at Visual Communications, the Asian-Pacific media arts center, worked for opportunities for minorities in the media.


The American Cinematheque's Westward Bound: The First Annual Westerns Festival continues at the Egyptian through Monday.... The L.A. premiere of experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs' two-part 402-minute "Star Spangled to Death," a critique of American culture culled from found footage, screens at 2 p.m. Monday at REDCAT.... The Silent Movie Theatre marks the 92nd birthday of organist Bob Mitchell at 8 p.m. Monday with "Hands Up" (1926), a Civil War comedy starring Raymond Hatton and Marion Nixon -- with accompaniment by Mitchell.



Film Forum Los Angeles

* "Oui Non," 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood

Info: (323) 466-FILM or

"Queimada" Revival

* "Queimada," 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Leo S. Bing Theater, LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.

Info: (323) 857-6177 or


* "Bolshevism on Trial," 7:30 tonight, followed by a discussion with historian Anthony Slide

Where: Hollywood Heritage Museum, 2100 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood

Info: (323) 467-0287

Special screening

* "Stand Up for Justice: The Ralph Lazo Story" 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: University Theater, Cal State Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach

Info: (213) 680-3484

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