`Streetcar' at the Charles includes restored footage


January 11, 2002|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

In the post-1993 prints that restored five minutes of censored sex-charged material, Elia Kazan's 1951 film of A Streetcar Named Desire, playing Saturday at the Charles Theatre, brings Tennessee Williams' Gothic tragedy to life with all its volatility intact. It screens at noon as part of the Theatre's month-old classic film series.

As they play out their antagonisms amid the broken latticework of New Orleans' French Quarter, Vivien Leigh's Blanche DuBois and Marlon Brando's Stanley Kowalski evoke the full complexity of the text. Stanley is cocky yet insecure, Blanche vulnerable yet manipulative -- they shimmer with the heat caused by pushing so much sensibility and energy through their characters' limited consciousness.

Brando himself wrote that he preferred the movie to the play because Leigh "was perfect casting" -- a great beauty "beginning to dissolve mentally and to fray at the ends physically." Admission is $5.

Two about Arab women

The Creative Alliance and Women Make Movies are sponsoring a free screening at 8 p.m. tonight of Four Women of Egypt and The Eternal Cycle.

A news release says that Women Make Movies, a New York-based organization, offered free winter screenings of Four Women of Egypt as part of a "Response to Hate" program. (Since infractions of civil liberties make for outraged news-weekly cover stories, and since films about Arab and Islamic cultures have become critical favorites and art-house hits, one wonders about the aptness of that program title.)

Nonetheless, the documentaries promise mind-opening views of the divergent paths open to women in the Arab world. In Four Women of Egypt, filmmaker Tahani Rached tries to place a socialist, a Christian, an activist and a devoted Muslim in a full human and political context.

Egyptian native and Baltimore resident Gamel Amer will appear at Creative Alliance in person to host her own short documentary, The Eternal Cycle, about a day in the life of a teen-age girl in Southern Egypt, and to discuss the issues raised by the two films.

The event takes place at 413 South Conkling St.; for more information call 410-276-1651 or visit www.creativealliance.org.

Spirit Awards

When John Waters hosts the Independent Spirit Awards in March, chances are he'll salute some movies that pay tribute to his own kinky-indie legacy. Leading the list of best-feature nominees with six nominations is L.I.E., a story of confused teens in Long Island whose most empathetic character is a gay child molester (played by Brian Cox, a best actor nominee). Talk about kismet: Waters told The Sun he went to see L.I.E. in Greenwich Village the night of Sept. 11, 2001.

Right up there with L.I.E. is the trans-gender extravaganza Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which won five nominations, including three for writer-director-star John Cameron Mitchell. The tricky thriller Memento also garnered five; the other two best-feature nominees were Allison Anders' autobiographical movie about rape, Things Behind the Sun, and Richard Linklater's ebullient animated inquiry into the nature of dreams, Waking Life.

Also prominent in the list of nominees are The Anniversary Party, co-written and co-directed by actors Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming, and Terry Zwigoff's distinctive teen-girl friendship movie Ghost World, which was nominated for its script and direction and for the supporting performance of Steve Buscemi -- but, oddly enough, not for Thora Birch and Scarlet Johansson, who play the two friends.

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