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Liability Crisis

Although there are many ways to explain the title of Richard Brody's "Liability Crisis," it proves unfortunately suited to the pic overall -- a boorish meditation on Jewish identity so full of artistic liabilities that its biggest crisis may be in finding any appreciable audience beyond helmer's immediate family.

With:
Dunia - Mirjana Jokovic
Paul - Jim Helsinger
Wendy - Sheri Meg Seidman
Larry - R. Ward Duffy
Susie - Caren Alpert
Mother - Sylvia Weber
Father - Sidney Annis

Although there are many ways to explain the title of Richard Brody’s “Liability Crisis,” it proves unfortunately suited to the pic overall — a boorish meditation on Jewish identity so full of artistic liabilities that its biggest crisis may be in finding any appreciable audience beyond helmer’s immediate family.

Attempting to treat themes common to much modern Jewish literature and film, humorless pic focuses on Paul (Jim Helsinger), a would-be filmmaker who obsesses on Hitler and the Holocaust while fancying himself a conscience-wracked artist grappling with weighty issues.

In truth, he’s a self-important phony, drawn without a shred of irony or insight.

After much blather about Paul’s seeing a Nazi behind every bush, talky tale focuses on his relationship with his Yugoslav-born g.f.

Dunia (Mirjana Jokovic) has returned from studies in China to find Paul lying about his infidelities and even more mired in his grandiose “identity” problems than before.

She challenges his liberal family with the observation that they’re not orthodox and Paul’s a professed atheist, so faith shouldn’t be an insurmountable obstacle to the couple’s union. However, this rare note of common sense gets quickly engulfed in more agonizing, leaving the viewer to wonder again why Dunia would give Paul a second glance, much less a second chance.

Compounding script’s problems, pic is shot in a manner recalling the worst film-school apings of Godard and Bergman. As if it needed further liabilities, 16mm image is blandly lit and sound is frequently hissy.

Liability Crisis

Production: A Filmhaus release of a Wilkesfilms production. Executive producer, Andrew Wilkes. Co-executive producers, Gregory Hatanaka, Dale Gasteiger. Directed, written by Richard Brody.

Crew: Camera (color, 16mm), James Maxton-Graham; editor, Brody; music, Beethoven, Francine Trester; sound, Rob Taz; line producer, Elizabeth McBee; production coordinator, Tania Hoben. Reviewed at Quad Cinema 4, New York, June 6, 1995. Running time: 78 min.

With: Dunia - Mirjana Jokovic
Paul - Jim Helsinger
Wendy - Sheri Meg Seidman
Larry - R. Ward Duffy
Susie - Caren Alpert
Mother - Sylvia Weber
Father - Sidney Annis

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