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March 21, 2003 - Image 71

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-03-21

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United States for having had unlaw-
ful sexual relations with a minor. He
currently lives in Paris.
Polanski was previously nominated
for his films Tess, Chinatown and

Rosemary's Baby.
The German entry, Nowhere in
Africa, is nominated for best foreign
language film. It describes the strug-
gles of a German Jewish refugee fam-
ily in the 1930s to adapt to life in
Kenya. Nowhere in Africa will be

screened April 25-27 at the Detroit
Film Theatre, and open at the Maple
Art Theatre in Bloomfield Township
on May 2. It also will be shown as
part of the Jewish Community
Center's Lenore Marwil Jewish Film
Festival.
Nominated in the documentary
feature category is Prisoner of
Paradise. Its central character is Kurt
Gerron, a popular Jewish entertainer
in pre-Hitler Berlin who directed a

Nazi propaganda film about
Theresienstadt. Gerron was later
killed in Auschwitz. Prisoner of
Paradise airs April 22 on Detroit
Public Television-Channel 56.
In our annual Oscar overview,
meet some of this year's nominees.

Above, left to right:
"Pianist" Oscar
nominees Roman
Polanski and
Adrien Brody

The 75th Annual Academy Awards

airs 8:30 p.m. Sunday, March 23,
on ABC.

Partnership Made In 'Heaven'

Composer Elmer Bernstein and director/screenwriter Todd Haynes
team up for Oscar nods.

NAOMI PFEFFERMAN
Jewish Jornal of Greater Los Angeles

Mr

1 hen the call came about writing the
music for Todd Haynes' Far From
Heaven, Elmer Bernstein was initially
dismissive. "The film already had a
temporary score, and I won't look at a film with a
temporary score," said Bernstein, who has received
13 Academy Award nominations and a 1963 Oscar
for Thoroughly Modern Millie.
His agent replied that he might make an exception
for this temporary score, since it happened to be
Bernstein's music from To Kill a Mockingbird.
"So I watched the movie and I was stunned," the
jovial composer said in his Santa Monica office.
"Then I had a Todd Haynes film festival at my
house and I thought, `I've got to find out more
about this director."'
So began a collaboration that has yielded yet
another Oscar nomination for Bernstein and a close
friendship between the 80-year-old composer and
42-year-old filmmaker.
Heaven is Haynes' homage to the 1950s melodra-
mas of Douglas Sirk, who fled Hitler to Hollywood
and transformed "women's pictures" into slyly sub-
versive critiques of American social taboos.
The story revolves around perky Connecticut
homemaker Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore),

whose seemingly perfect life unravels when she dis-
films depict people pushed into various kinds of
exile — from the housewife literally poisoned by
covers her husband, Frank (Dennis Quaid), is a clos-
et homosexual and her friendship with her black
suburbia in 1995's Safe to the androgynous glam-
gardener (Dennis Haysbert) is alienating the town.
rockers in 1998's Velvet Goldmine.
Because the year is 1957, when homosexuality
Yet as the director and the composer began discussing
Heaven in Bemstein's Santa
wasn't discussed, Bernstein's score
captures Cathy's heartache and
Barbara studio in summer 2002,
their differences quickly fell away.
other emotions the characters
"Elmer and I became friends
can't verbalize.
very fast, which I think has a lot
If the '50s cinematic style con-
to do with being Jewish, left-lean-
trasts with the contemporary sub-
ing and interested in the arts,"
ject matter, the director and com-
said Haynes, who has a Jewish
poser also proved a fortuitous
mother and a non-Jewish father.
union of opposites. Bernstein,
"We commiserated about 'the
who represents old Hollywood, _
Elmer Bernstein and Todd Haynes:
world,"
Bernstein, the son of
has scored more than 200 movies
Harmonious collaboration.
Eastern European immigrants,
for filmmakers ranging from Cecil
said with a laugh. "I heard from
B. DeMille to Martin Scorsese.
Todd the liberal views I enjoy hearing from my own
He is the composer who "marched Steve
McQueen through The Great Escape, who led Chuck sons, and he heard from me what he would have
expected to hear from his own grandfather."
Heston into the Promised Land carrying The Ten
During a series of trips to Bernstein's studio, the
Commandment ... [and] who celebrated the gather-
cerebral, exuberant Haynes often remarked how
ing of cowboys as they banded together as The
Magnificent Seven," according to the Dallas Observer. much the composer reminded him of his charismatic
grandfather, Arnold Semler, who died in early 2001.
By way of contrast, acclaimed renegade independ-
ent filmmaker Haynes, who is up for a screenwriting
In fact, Heaven is dedicated to Semler, a.k.a "Bompi,"
a son of Romanian and Polish immigrants who started
Oscar for Heaven, has deliberately remained a
Hollywood outsider. Once a poster boy for the New
Queer Cinema, his unnerving, stylishly avant-garde
`HEAVEN' on page 75

3/21

2003

71

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