Starting Place | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Starting Place 

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An American radical based in Paris since the 70s, Robert Kramer is an important independent filmmaker who has been almost completely ignored in this country, though many French critics regard him as one of our major artists. His best known work includes such ambitious features as The Edge, Ice, Milestones, and Route One, as well as documentaries, including The People's War, which he shot in Hanoi during the height of the Vietnam war. Kramer did something a couple of years ago that few Americans, hawks or doves, had thought of doing at the time: he went back to Vietnam. This personal essay film (1993), narrated by the filmmaker, dares to confront and reflect on the multifaceted implications of such a visit, and shows us the people he encountered there--a varied crew of Vietnamese and Americans. Beautifully and evocatively edited, with a grace that recalls Godard's Two or Three Things I Know About Her, the film thoughtfully, provocatively, and movingly engages a subject that's been an enforced blank spot in this country's consciousness--a denial made more obvious by such ersatz "Vietnam" movies as Casualties of War and Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, as well as depictions of the war without Vietnamese, as in Forrest Gump. Unlike most of his compatriots, Kramer has managed to maintain a complex, multifaceted continuity with his earlier concerns, and the results have the force of revelation. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday, November 17, 7:00 and 9:00; Saturday and Sunday, November 18 and 19, 3:00, 5:00, 7:00, and 9:00; and Monday through Thursday, November 20 through 23, 7:00 and 9:00; 281-4114.

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