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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Arts Recommends…

Published: February 18, 2011
Section: Arts, Etc.

Film ‘Catch Me If You Can’

Can’t get enough of Leonardo DiCaprio? Even if he isn’t your favorite actor, you should give Steven Spielberg’s clever con-artist film a chance. Based on the true-life story of Frank Abagnale Jr., who impersonated a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer and a PanAm pilot in order to con banks out of large sums of money—“Catch Me If You Can” is a fun and smart cat-and-mouse flick. Tom Hanks plays Carl Hanratty, an intelligent but underestimated investigator who pursues Abagnale as his cons span states and countries, growing larger and larger in scale. Hanks cleverly conveys his enjoyment of the chase and his sympathy, and later his respect for the young and brilliant swindler. DiCaprio, in turn, portrays Abagnale as a smug chameleon with a vulnerable interior life. Spielberg’s film captures the allure and danger of assuming different identities.—KDS

Book ‘A Passage to India’

Are you an armchair traveler? Travel to Asia in E.M. Forster’s celebrated novel “A Passage to India.” Forster explores what happens when two radically different cultures collide. When Miss Quested travels to British-occupied India in order to decide whether or not to marry, she finds herself immersed in a vibrant and foreign world. Miss Quested befriends local Dr. Aziz, which launches a series of events that leads to an explosive confrontation between two diverse peoples. Forster, who also wrote the romance “A Room With A View,” depicts the difficulty and importance of communicating and forming relationships cross cultures. Pick this novel up if you want an absorbing psychological read set in the context of national struggle. Besides, no one writes dialogue better than Forster.—KDS

Film ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’

Imitating the structure of an intricate Russian novel, Woody Allen once again tackles the comic dimensions of love and family in “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986), one of the director’s most endearing films. Allen weaves numerous stories around three sisters and their romantic entanglements. The eponymous Hannah (Mia Farrow) serves as the dysfunctional family’s rock, an undemanding source of comfort for younger sisters Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Dianne Wiest). Lee is adrift, attaching herself to one intellectual man after another; one of them happens to be Hannah’s nebbish husband, Elliot (Michael Caine). Holly, meanwhile, finds herself resenting Hannah’s stability as her acting career flounders. As clichéd as it sounds, the film is simply a joy to watch; Allen imbues the film with a warmth that persists despite the comic pessimism that marks all his works. While some of his characters make bad decisions, you never lose sympathy for them because they’re so richly-drawn.—SF

Book ‘The History of Love’

Nicole Krauss’ “The History of Love” seems to operate on the thesis that there are many ways to love but only one way to be lonely. Old locksmith Leo Gursky lives alone in his New York City apartment, daily mourning the decades-old loss of his childhood girlfriend. On the other side of the city, young Alma Singer tries to help her mother cope with the loss of her father. Though both Alma and Leo deeply feel the absence of different kinds of love, they are united by a shared loneliness. More mysteriously, the two are connected via an obscure Argentinean novel, “The History of Love,” which has deeply impacted both of their lives; Alma was named after its protagonist, while Leo has a complex relationship with its author. It’s an enchanting novel aided by Krauss’ prose, which is always charming even if the novel feels slight at times.—SF