Australian and British actresses benefit from a common primary language in their crossover to American films, and over the past decade-plus a number of French- and Spanish-speaking actresses in particular — including Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek — have made great professional inroads, winning acclaim and achieving significant box office successes in roles in both English and their native languages. There hasn’t really been a German actress to break through in the same fashion, however, unless one stretches the definition generously to include Franka Potente, who parlayed the international arthouse sensation Run Lola Run into a role as Matt Damon‘s imperiled love interest in The Bourne Identity and (briefly) its sequel.
Nina Hoss, however, might be on the precipice of changing that. Barbara, her fifth collaboration with writer-director Christian Petzold, is another stunning showcase for the actress’ uncommon intelligence and chameleonic beauty. I recently had a chance to speak to Hoss one-on-one, about the film, her work with the up-and-coming Petzold, the state of German filmmaking and her surprising affinity for a certain American cable TV series. The conversation is excerpted over at ShockYa, so click here for the read.
A well meaning and deeply felt counter-culture documentary touting societal engagement, creative response to problems as well as activism more generally, Let Fury Have the Hour rages against communal indifference and fiscal recklessness and greed, but never mounts much more than a scattershot attack against the mainstream targets and hegemonic establishment ideologies it fixes in its sights. Unfolding in the style of a rather exuberant mixed media collage, however, and featuring a wide array of interesting interviewees, the film is nonetheless a fairly engaging call to action, no matter the fuzzy, indistinct chorus of its melodious sermon to the choir.
Director Antonio D’Ambrosio’s movie, which premiered last year at the Tribeca Film Festival, is an unapologetically raw and impassioned slice of social history which takes as its leaping-off point the 1980s rise to power, respectively, of Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and then winds its way through the reactive artistic comings-of-age of a variety of figures. Those interviewed include artist Shepard Fairey, economist Richard Wolff, playwright Eve Ensler, rapper Chuck D (above), rocker Tom Morello, environmentalist Van Jones and filmmaker John Sayles, the latter of whom speaks quite interestingly and eloquently about attending the 1980 national GOP convention and experiencing firsthand the significant difference between the rhetoric on the floor versus what was televised in the event’s truncated network news packaging.
Let Fury Have the Hour touches on everything from counter-cultural phenomena like skateboarding and breakdancing to more recognized forms of art and music (particularly punk rock and political rap, in the form of Fugazi and Public Enemy). While discussing their own creative awakenings, the interview subjects provide a sociopolitical frame for their experiences, talking about (in their view) the predominant peddled worldview of those on the political right — that to care is selfish, to help is vain, and personal happiness is available chiefly through consumption and one’s individual purchasing power.
In one sense, D’Ambrosio’s headstrong resistance to more rigidly funneling his film through a stronger editorial lens is admirable, as it gives Let Fury Have the Hour a ranginess that keeps it fresh and surprising. At the same time, as a single cogent work, the movie leaves one wanting for more. There doesn’t seem to be a very strongly reasoned topic sentence here, something that a few half-hearted late stabs at connecting activism in general to the turbulence of democratic uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere seem to underscore. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. For more information on the film, which opens this week in Los Angeles at the Laemmle NoHo 7 and will also be released on VOD on March 5 via SnagFilms, click here to visit its website. (SnagFilms/CAVU Pictures/Gigantic Pictures, unrated, 87 minutes)