8:00 PM, 23rd April, 1999
Hurt and Julia portray an unlikely couple, Molina and Valentin, who are imprisoned in a run down South American prison for very different reasons. Molina is a homosexual imprisoned on charges of corrupting a minor, whereas Valentin is an antifascist political prisoner. To pass the long waits between the sickening meals and the arrival of new prisoners, Molina recounts tales of old movies he has seen, which not only provide an escape for the two prisoners, but also a visual release for the viewer from the grim confines of the prison.
Generally, the film is engrossing due to the dialogue, with well balanced flash backs to old movies and real life events, the actual prison life and, further on in the movie, character twists. These seemingly disjointed events are blended together such that they compliment each other, and eventually the barriers between them start to fade. The exploits of these characters are at times funny, at times empowering, at times harrowing and even humiliating, but they are always interesting. It is impossible for me to say whether a given person will enjoy a film, and you may well not, but I think I can at least be fairly certain that you will not be bored, and will most importantly not feel robbed for this movie having taken an hour or two of your time. At least do not be put off by the concept of two guys in a cell recounting their experiences and philosophies, I can assure you understanding this movie at such a level does not do it justice.
10:00 PM, 23rd April, 1999
This is William Wyler's second film based on Lillian Hellman's play about two female schoolteachers whose lives and careers are threatened when a vindictive student begins spreading a rumour that they are having an affair. Wyler was apparently unhappy with having to completely rework the play to make These Three in 1936, where he used adultery as the theme. Even so, in this film made 25 years later, the word 'lesbian' is never even mentioned. The girl's accusations are made in whispers and the audience is left to piece together the story from the reactions of the people she tells. The teachers, Karen (Audrey Hepburn) and Martha (Shirley MacLaine) are equally at a loss when parents begin removing their children from the school with no explanation. When they finally find out what they are supposed to have done, they are devastated and have to find a way to reverse the damage.
This is certainly not the most positive film about a lesbian relationship, but it is an important one. It is compelling to watch the reaction of a self-righteous community to the unproved allegations of the malicious young girl. The hysteria which the rumours engender is reminiscent of McCarthyism, something which both Wyler and Hellman had actively fought against during hearings by the House Un-American Activities Committee a decade earlier.