By Other Voices voices@moviecitynews.com

LETTERS FROM LARRY

DEAR DAVID:

If there’s a better film that plays at Sundance 2010, than Jacques Audiar’s thrillingly compelling A Prophet (Un Prophete) I will be surprised.

Audiard synthesizes a classic young-gangster-on-the-rise tale akin to Scarface or Public Enemy with a convincing depiction of what it is like to make it in French society as an illiterate teenager of North African Arabic descent.

Audiard’s provocative choice was to set this brutal story of crime entirely in a bleak and terrifying prison.

In The Battle of Algiers and Malcolm X we were shown how, in prison a criminal might be politicized. Here, Audiard’s protagonist Malik knows nothing of his Islamic roots, at the start, and could care less. Sheer survival is the art he cultivate. But he has anuncanny combination of intelligence and luck. He realizes that ultimately that there is no survival without power. Audiard’s film is political even if his hero is not.

Two superlative performances drive A Prophet. Tahar Rahum as Malik is like a young De Niro or Pacino. You feel as if you see his nerves are exposed as he faces down each new threat, and his gradually increasing strength and confidence become uniquely believable.

Niels Asterup is the old time mob boss who teaches and terrorizes Malik and he brings a constantly surprising freshness to his scenes.

A Prophet puts new wine in old barrels in a way Hollywood genre film makers dream of doing but rarely know how to do. It deserves to be sensationally popular with American audiences.

Larry
Sent from my iPhone

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Sundance 2010 Letters from Larry
Jan 21

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Larry Gross is a 25 year screenwriting veteran and Winner of Sundance’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for his most recent release, We Don’t Live Here Anymore.

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“Film festivals, for those who don’t know, are not exactly the glitzy red carpet affairs you see on TV. Those do happen, but they’re a tiny part of the festival. The main part of any film festival are the thousands of people with festival passes hanging on lanyards beneath their anoraks, carrying brochures for movies you have never and will never hear of, desperately scrabbling to sell whatever movie it is to buyers from all over the world. Every hotel bar, every cafe, every restaurant is filled to the brim with these people, talking loudly about non-existent deals. The Brits are the worst because most of the British film industry, with a few honourable exceptions, are scam artists and chancers who move around from company to company failing to get anything good made and trying to cast Danny Dyer in anything that moves. I’m seeing guys here who I first met twenty years ago and who are still wearing the same clothes, doing the same job (albeit for a different company) and spinning the same line of bullshit about how THIS movie has Al Pacino or Meryl Streep or George Clooney attached and, whilst that last one didn’t work out, THIS ONE is going to be HUGE. As the day goes on, they start drinking and it all gets ugly and, well, that’s why I’m the guy walking through the Tiergarten with a camera taking pictures of frozen lakes and pretending this isn’t happening.

“Berlin is cool, though and I’ve been lucky to be doing meetings with some people who want to actually get things done. We’ll see what comes of it.”
~ Julian Simpson 

“The difference between poetry and prose, and why if you’re not acculturated to poetry, you might resist it: that page is frightening. Why is it not filled? The two categories of people who don’t feel that way are children and prisoners. So many prison poets; they see that gap and experience it differently. I’m for the gap!”
~ Poet Eileen Myles