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Short Takes on Film
Ben Nyce | Via Latina

The closing of Landmark La Jolla Village Cinema continues the shrinking of independent, art film culture in San Diego. It’s a real blow to those of us who like non-formula films. Long gone are the days of intimate art-house venues (Remember the Unicorn in La Jolla?). The disappearance of Flower Hill Cinema was the most recent warning sign. The announcement that Angelika, the art house cinema based in New York, will open a theater in the fall is not much of a boon to us in Del Mar. You’ll have to drive 56 to north on 15 to Carmel Country Road – a good half hour trip. Well, there’s always Landmark Hillcrest and the Ken if you can brave the freeway congestion. Just maybe, Arclight and AMC La Jolla will take up some of the slack but don’t bet on it. They want films with guaranteed big ticket sales.

For home viewing “Le Quattro Volte” (The Four Stages) is totally without dialogue and with almost no music. We see an old shepherd with his flock of goats. He lives alone in a medieval village in Calabria. He dies in his sleep, the goats escape their enclosure, his spirit is carried on in a pretty young goat that dies of exposure at the foot of a large pine tree which is cut down (the third stage) and turned into charcoal. The progress goes from human to animal to vegetal to mineral with great discretion (using long shots, repeated camera position, a soundtrack which evokes the process of nature). It’s a poetic evocation of the transformation of the life force.

Nyce taught literature and film at USD and wrote Satyajit Ray: A Study of His Films and Scorsese Up Close.


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