Times Staff Writer

“Dark Night,” which screens at 8 p.m. Tuesday at UCLA Melnitz in the “New International Features” series, marks an ambitious feature debut for UCLA alumnus Frank Tan. One of the most popular and controversial Taiwanese films, it is an elegant, highly erotic psychological drama involving a rich, beautiful but neglected Taipei woman (Sue Ming-Ming) who’s seduced by a handsome, shallow business acquaintance (Hsu Ming) of her busy, blindly chauvinistic husband (Chang Kuo-Chu). Through her sexual awakening, the heroine discovers her need for self-liberation. “Dark Night” takes place almost entirely in luxurious (but often tasteless) and impersonal Western-style contemporary settings that express the wife’s isolation and vulnerability. Beneath its deliberate gloss, “Dark Night” offers a subtle political and cultural commentary on life in Taiwan as it faces an uncertain future. Tan will discuss his film after it is screened. Phone: (213) 825-2581.

Barbara Trent and David Kasper’s hourlong “Destination Nicaragua” is a sobering yet encouraging documentary which follows a group of Americans who have gone to Nicaragua to see what’s going on and help its people.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Jun. 04, 1986 FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Wednesday June 4, 1986 Home Edition Calendar Part 6 Page 6 Column 3 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 15 words Type of Material: Correction
The director of “Dark Night,” discussed in Monday’s Special Screenings column, is Fred Tan, not Frank Tan.

Like a number of documentaries before it, “Destination Nicaragua” is persuasive in its view that U.S. support of the contras is misguided and threatens the Nicaraguans’ fundamental right of self-determination while threatening to drag us into another Vietnam. The film doesn’t whitewash the flaws of the Sandinista government yet suggests that it is wrong to label it “communist.” The Americans Trent and Kasper interview are intelligent, well-educated professionals who leave us with the distinct impression of their ability to distinguish propaganda from reality. “Destination Nicaragua,” which is narrated by Tyne Daly, screens at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Los Feliz as a benefit for KPFK radio and the Venice-based Empowerment Project. It screens there again at 11 a.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Fox International. Phone: (213) 390-9858.

As UCLA Film Archives’ comprehensive Frank Borzage retrospective nears its end, it’s clear that Borzage achieved a remarkable thematic consistency in a nearly half-century career yet managed to remain contemporary.


He had as much faith in the redemptive power of love in his 1917 Western “The Gun Woman” as he did in “Moonrise” (1948), which could comfortably be described as a film noir . Set in the Virginia backwoods, it stars Dane Clark as a young man so taunted all his life by his father’s death by hanging that in a moment of rage he kills one of his tormentors (Lloyd Bridges). As he deals with the guilt that begins to consume him, Borzage suggests that, although in some instances it takes two to commit murder--i.e., Bridges had been asking for it--Clark must decide for himself how to answer his conscience. In addition to Clark, there are fine performances from Gail Russell, Ethel Barrymore, Rex Ingram and Allyn Joslyn. “Moonrise” screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in UCLA Melnitz, preceded at 5:30 p.m. by “Till We Meet Again” (1944) and followed by “I’ve Always Loved You” (1946).

“A Square of Sky” is yet another monumental depiction of the Holocaust. A prize-winning, eight-hour adaptation of the autobiography of Janina David directed by Franz Peter Wirth and written by Leo Lehman for German television, it immerses us in the lives of 10-year-old Janina (Dana Vavrova) and her family as they are wrenched from their wealthy, aristocratic existence to engage in an increasingly severe struggle for survival in the Warsaw Ghetto.

“A Square of Sky” stands as a testament to the strength of the traditional narrative, beautifully written and acted. The Goethe Institute, 8501 Wilshire Blvd., is screening it in two parts, at 1 p.m. this coming Sunday and on June 15. “A Square of Sky” launches a series of films of the Holocaust, both old and new. Information: (213) 854-0993.