Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This review contains spoilers.]
"Dutchman" has "been brought to the screen almost entirely within the framework of LeRoi Jones' original play. It still has the same message, told in the same way. As a result, it's not as effective as it might have been. What we're up against here is the collision between the languages of stage and screen.
In the theater, limitations of time and space usually make a production seem more immediate. In the movies, on the other hand, we're used to time being stretched or compressed, but we rarely find it recorded exactly as it passes. When 70 minutes of action are shown in 70 minutes of screen time, the result is not "realism" but constraint.
I said the message of "Dutchman" remains the same as on the stage, but there's a certain confusion here too. The action takes place entirely within a subway car. A young Negro (Al Freeman Jr.) is riding alone. A sexy blond (Shirley Knight) boards the train and begins to make painfully rude advances to the Negro.