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Reprinted from Kinetoscope Reviews

Only two movie reviews (more like rants and stories actually) with books on here too, but first off I've got to tell a few Maine stories (one gross and one celebrity). Robert Schrader and I went to Maine last week for five days as the "Get the Hell Out of NY!" summer camping tour. It was so great to get out of the noisy, hot, crowded city for a while and I wish I was still out there driving, heading into Canada, laying in the tent reading and listening to the wind in the trees. Day #2 had us in Belfast, Maine, camped out near the water on nice, soft ground. For supper we ate at a place down the road and had steamed clams, fried whole clams and I topped it off with a pretty big cone of soft serve ice cream. Little did I know this was going to be a dangerous mix that would come back to attack me in a few hours. I woke up at around 1 that night, with the awful rumbling in my stomach and this odd twitching nervousness that always tells me I'm about to be sick. I unzipped the tent, waking Rob up, "What's going on?" he asked. "I think I'm about to throw up." I reply flatly and bound off barefoot down a dirt path, trying to make it to the bathroom before getting sick. I don't make it. I threw up all over the ground near the walkway outside the campground office, five feet from the bathroom door! I rushed in there and spent the next two hours, without shoes and alone, being sick, shivering and cursing my entire existence. There is something about getting food poisoning and throwing up that upsets my entire chemical make-up and I become unbelievably depressed and dark. I just want to die it's such a terrible thing. This is the first time I'd gotten sick like this since December of 1996 when I ate one of those potato things, baked and with sour cream, bacon bits and the works over the top. This was worse though. To be alone, somewhere in Maine, in the middle of the night, wearing no shoes in a semi-dirty toilet and puking up these undigested clams! It's not a moment I want to relive anytime soon. I returned to the tent at almost 3am to find myself shivering with a slight fever and unable to stop my teeth from chattering loudly against each other. The next morning I was weak and ate bland foods but two days later I was back at my usual diet. It has put me off the clams though. Never again will I eat steamed clams.

Maine story #2 is for the film geeks out there and involves a celebrity sighting. We had made up to Bar Harbor, Maine and were staying near the Acadia National Park. We were returning on a shuttle bus from the park and a great couple of hours hiking along the rocky shoreline that had the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing into the giant rocks while a soft drizzle fell from the sky. It was around dusk and the shuttle bus was stopping at various campgrounds letting people off and get on. At one of these stops a couple of kids get on and this normal looking guy. I noticed him and thought, "That looks like..." but then thought, "Naw, what's he doing up here on a shuttle bus in Maine?" but realized it was him and turned to Rob and said, "Hey, that's an actor named Luis Guzman!" "I was just about to tell you that I knew that was some famous actor," Rob replied. I was psyched. Guzman (Traffic, The Limey, Boogie Nights) is one of my favorite character actors and I always mention him in my reviews. Rob and I made a series of jokes about what we could go up and say to him that would be funny to us and that would catch him off guard being up here in the boonies of Maine and we decided to get off when he got off to at least say hello, thinking he surely doesn't get spotted a lot, especially here. We kind of walked behind him, that saw us having to pass a couple of his daughters to pull up even. I was walking a little ahead of Rob and Luis made eye contact and I said, "Luis Guzman?" "Yeah." "I'm a big fan of your work." "Hey, thanks a lot. All right." "What're you, up here to see the park?" "Yeah, up here for that, watching the whales." It started to rain and I don't recall much that was said after that but we all started running for our various tents or RVs or whatnot. It was cool. Luis Guzman. He seemed nice and kind of into being complimented and had it not started raining I may have gotten a longer conversation but it was funny as we weren't really expecting to see someone like that on this bus shuttle to the campgrounds. Now, to the movies/rants and more Maine stuff during the Rat Race review.

The Score (2001, usa)

The heist film is back in style and I'm glad for it. The Score, starring a bunch of heavy hitters such as Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Edward Norton and Angela Bassett, is one of the recent heist film releases (upcoming movies such as Heist (that's original!) and Ocean's 11 (with the above mentioned Luis Guzman I'm sure as he's a Steven Soderbergh regular) also have big starpower around capor action and double crosses). Maybe it's because I'm such a flat out sucker for these movies but I found The Score a pretty solid and enjoyable little heist film. I wasn't really surprised by anything but it follows such a steadfast and winning formula that any any film that adheres to the basic heist bluebook and has good performances, I'm going to recommend. All the actors are very competent (although Bassett is barely used) as De Niro plays a master thief making one last job before (I told you it follows the formula!) and joins up with a cocky, unknown guy (Norton) who is the inside man. Norton is an actor who is often said to be the finest of this generation (I'd probably go with Sean Penn myself) but come on, let's be honest, he couldn't carry De Niro's bags when De Niro was in his prime in the mid to late '70s and early '80s. The Deer Hunter. Taxi Driver. Raging Bull. Just three of De Niro's career defining roles during this period. Maybe he could rise to such lofty heights but those kinds of intense, epic, decade defining roles and movies aren't made these days (horrible state of American cinema is to blame. Again, I'm bashing American Hollywood movies but try and convince me this isn't true. How many great American movies have been released this year anyway? A tiny few at best. Wait a sec, let me see how many American releases I've scored a four or better so far in 2001 Kinetoscope. Here's the list: Traffic, State and Main, Momento, Moulin Rouge, Ghost World, that's it, 5 movies, 2 of which I saw in the first 2 weeks of the year. That's pathetic in any book you look at. Let me count up the foreign films released in America in 2000-01 that I've seen this year. Chunhyang, In the Mood for Love, Afterlife, The Taste of Others, The Gleaners and I, The Foul King, Amores Perros, Eureka, With a Friend Like Harry, Sexy Beast, Seance and Thomas In Love. 12 movies. I don't need to write more on the subject. 6 of the 12 are out of Asia. I'll say it again: the best movies in the world are coming from Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong/China right now. It just sickens me that with so much money at their disposal that American films aren't more up to snuff. Nothing but blockbusters and lowest common denominator cinema I'm afraid and I just expect too much I guess because I'm not satisfied by the litany of crap movies they produce. Well, an unexpected rant has emerged to comprise the bulk of this review! American cinema is in such a weakened state I truly feel compelled to go after it at every opportunity.). Okay, now I'm in a downer, don't feel like picking up where I left off. I wouldn't call The Score original but it's a very solidly made heist film with a great "big job" at the end that should be enjoyed as an entertainingly done genre picture. It kind of has an old time feel to it as it is mostly business around the capor. The scenes away from the robbery kind of drag it down but thankfully those scenes are few. Film geeks take note: Gary Farmer is among the cast. Solid, no-frills, pulls no punches heist movie here.   Joshua: 3.5

Rat Race (2001, usa)   Weir's Drive-In Theatre at Weir's Beach, New Hampshire   w/ Rob

Rob and I are on our "Get the Hell Out of NY!" summer tour, New Hampshire portion and happen to be camping out in a little town with a drive in theatre, one of the last bastions of authentic Americana. After we ate supper at a great place called Hart's Turkey Farm (their motto: Where Everyday is Thanksgiving Day! and had the world's largest turkey plate collection that was started by Grandma Mae in the '50s. See this is the real America that you only see by travelling around to small little, off the turnpike towns.) where I had turkey livers, more turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potato, butternut squash and a slice of key lime pie (my clam/ice cream poisoning was in the past as you can see), we drove down to Weir's Beach and the drive-in. Yes, we got in a honk before the film started when we felt that it was dark enough to start the movie (the honking is a part of the experience and tradition of the drive-in). Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the old style metallic window mounted speakers to the fm radio signal that is used now. Sure it sounds better on fm but there's something unique about having to attach this oblong, beautifully silver, heavy object to your window and then adjusting the static filled volume up and down and then making sure you don't drive off with it still on your window. The movie we came to see, Rat Race, is not really worth going into as its an updating of the Cannonball Run genre of picture. A big group of stars go on a chaotic, loopy road race while trying to win a chunk of money by crossing the finish line first. Rat Race is a silly movie that is certainly enhanced by the drive-in setting of cars, night sky with stars, trees next to the screen, people hollering out around us as they sit in folding chairs or in the back of trucks and the flickering image burning its way through the darkness and showing up on the screen that needs painting. My score would have been lower had it nod been seen in the great drive-in atmosphere but that fact added a great deal to watching a not so funny zany road picture.            Joshua: 3                     Robert: 2.5

(book review time: ***********Tokyo Underworld (1999)***********    by Robert Whiting

The subtitle of this non-fiction book by Robert Whiting is The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan. That American is Nick Zapetti and Tokyo Underworld follows Zapetti from his early days as GI and black marketeer in post WWII occupied Japan. Zapetti managed to make ties with prominent Japanese organized crime branches, the Yakuza, which was unheard of for a gaijin. Zapetti lived an up and down life with riches beyond riches and then trouble with his Japanese wives and money problems that cost him the bulk of his empire. Zapetti also had a highly popular group of pizzarias called Nicola's that were a haven for celebrities and yakuza. My favorite moments of Tokyo Underworld were the Zapetti stories and the yakuza ones connected to him. The exerpts on pro-wrestling as nationalistic ego builder and the America vs. Japan mindset are two of the more enjoyable areas of the book. Unfortunately, the book goes into the details of the past 25 years of the yakuza and the white collar crime as they became more mainstream and moved away from the back piece tattooed, chopped off pinkie finger, sword carrying criminals there were known as in the '50s and '60s. I'm into the old style yakuza more than the new breed who are just basically businessmen with no scruples or ethics (but that might be common for the world of business?). Anyway, I'd have liked more crime and less business at times during Tokyo Underworld. This is the second book by Whiting I've read on Japan. He also wrote the classic You Gotta Have Wa, an examination of the differences of America and Japan throught the viewpoint of American baseball players in Japan and the difficulties they face on foreign soil. I wouldn't put Tokyo Underworld in the class of Wa but if you are into crime/mafia/yakuza/ Japan, then it's certainly worth checking out.

 


Movies reviewed: Thomas in Love (2000), Brother (2000) and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask (1972). Plus, there are two more book reviews at the end, Footsucker and Andy Kaufman Revealed! as I attempt to catch up from the backlog of books I've read this year.  

Thomas in Love (2000, Belgium)                 NY--Cinema Village

Thomas In Love is one of the more unique films I've seen in a while. Directed by Pierre-Paul Renders, it offers us life as Thomas sees it, through his visiophone (new teknology that is the phone and video through his komputer: the visiophone). Thomas is agoraphobic and can only communicate with people through his komputer. This is sort of a sci-fi film because of its futuristic setting and new teknology but the film isn't your normal sci-fi film as it is just a collection of people talking into this digital camera and Thomas' voice as he responds (we never actually see Thomas). I thought seeing everything from the perspective of a single camera would get old but that wasn't the case. The film was visually striking with all these hyper colors and strange face tattoos and makeup that's popular in Render's future world. Thomas' psychiatrist signs him up for a dating club and his agoraphobia scares all the women off except for one named Melody (Magali Pinglaut, who is doe eyed, cute as all get out fiesty actress who has an incredible way of biting her lips as she pauses between sentences that was very beguiling). Melody and Thomas hit it off, she makes video pomes and even considers some taboo cybersex with Thomas instead of having sex in person. Thomas also meets a woman named Eve who works as a prostitute through some kind of komputerized on-line agency. Eve behins to take up more of Thomas' attention as they talk more and more after he sees her crying through his visiophone. Renders has made a film that is really unique in look and he takes this cool idea and runs with it full steam ahead and it's a wonderfully inventive and different movie. It uses some animation (some naughty cybersex bits) and all kinds of digitalized tricks to liven up the images through the visiophone. The screen blips in and out, grows fuzzy and out of focus, uses odd, disjointed framing, photos pulse multiple images behind those who are talking to Thomas and all those vibrant colors and face tattoos. I bet some people would hate this kind of tekked up movie but not me, I found it oddly kind of warm hearted despite the coldness of future teknology and the lack of genuine human interaction. Thomas In Love is a strikingly different kind of sci-fi that should be checked out if you get the chance and this plays in other cities.  Joshua: 4

Brother (2000, Japan/usa)                    NY--Village East

Takeshi "Beat" Kitano's lates sees him making a claim at breaking into the American market more as it is half in English and mostly set in Los Angelos. I'm a Kitano fan and think his Fireworks is one of the best films I've seen in the past few years but Brother is a bad movie and the last half of it is practically an unwatchable mess. I don't know what in the world went wrong here but boy was it a complete and utter disaster. Kitano plays Aniki, his usual quiet yakuza, with facial twitches and extremely violent personality. His crime family is taken over in Japan and he leaves for America to save face for his old partners who are attempting to assimilate into the new gang. He arrives in L.A. to find a half brother (Claude Maki) who is involved in petty drug dealing. In no time Aniki has killed off the competition and has started up his own new crew of American styled yakuza. Brother just devolves into a mindless and silly series of brutal killings that mean absolutely nothing as their is no emotional attachment to any of these guys. Kitano's wordless, Clint Eastwood silent tough guy lacks the personality he's captured in the past. Brother also is missing the interesting visual artsy flair and the bizarre, non-linear editing that have been a Kitano trademark in his past few films. Truly, Brother looked and felt like some kind of straight to video release you see late Friday night on Cinemax with its tedious violence and empty sentimentalism. I really despise seeing a movie from a writer/director I admire and then a sinking feeling slowly creeps in as to how what I'm watching is not working and turning into a failure. It's painful. This is exactly one of those times. Takeshi Kitano has thrown out a massive dud with Brother that's for certain.              Joshua: 2

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, but Were Afraid to Ask (1972, usa)

Early Woody Allen comedy that sees him turn sex into farce by showing seven sketches based around questions such as what is sodomy?, why do some women have trouble reaching an orgasm? (which is in Italian), and are transvestites homosexuals? the sodomy story features one of my favorites with Gene Wilder as a doctor who falls in love with a sheep named Daisy and begins to have a hot and torrid affair with her (hence the sodomy). Allen's early comedies, such as Bananas and Sleeper, are just so silly and goofy and in many ways my favorite of his films in his long career. This is in that vein. It's not always funny as some of the jokes fall flat and Allen plays to the camera with a wink too much, but it's so giddy in its bits of goofy business that its fun for Woody fans like myself.              Joshua: 3.5

INKLAB book reviews............INKLAB book reviews.........INKLAB book reviews.......

Footsucker (1995)         by Geoff Nicholson

As the title may tell you, this novel by Nicholson is about the world of a foot fetishist who meets a woman with perfect feet and has his world turned upside down because of it. Footsucker is about the most out and out sexual book since I read The Fermata by Nicholson Baker (a great, dirty book about stopping time and sex!) a couple of years ago. The fact that there were large doses of strange sex got me through this as it is not very well written. In fact, it's one of the poorest written books I've read in a while. Nicholson always uses the end of a chapter as an opportunity to toss in a one line teaser of what comes next--a very annoying and cheap ploy by a writer. Footsucker is thinly construcked, poorly plotted and just isn't well done. But, I suppose, if you are into feet a lot (which I'm not) you might want to check this out because you'll like Footsucker due to the amount of sex in it. The book details every kind of facet of foot fetishism and I mean everything and it can get a tad repetitive if you aren't into feet. I mean, there's only so many ways to eroticize licking toes for non foot freaks before it gets old. But, I did keep reading so maybe I'm into feet more than I thought I was? (okay, I read and wrote this in early May, since I've read it I've noticed I spend a lot of time on the subway casually looking at women's feet! either this book infuenced me in that way or I had more of a foot thing than i thought--i still don't think that's the case. It just helps to pass the time on the subway and there are so many women who wear shoes in the summer with feet visible and up front. Another thing that surprises me is just how few feet I find attractive. Very few of them I would consider getting into in the ways that Nicholson does in Footsucker. Thought a little confession might make this a more positive review than what I wrote in May.)

Andy Kaufman Revealed! (1999)              by Bob Zmuda/Matthew Scott Hansen

I don't want to repeat myself from earlier Andy Kaufman related rantings in Kinetoscope but I was and am a big fan of this madcap genius ever since I was in my teens and saw him on Saturday Night Live repeats. To me, he was an American original, who was fascinated by the audience and pushed their buttons at every chance he got. He liked it when they hated him (see pro wrestling or wrestling women or Tony Clifton identity) as when they loved him (Foreign Man as Elvis, taking them to eat milk and cookies, I love Grandma persona). I know quite a bit about Kaufman's stunts and antics and act so there were not a lot of surprise in this memoir by Kaufman co-hort Zmuda. There were details in some of the Clifton gags (Clifton was Kaufman's alter ego, a loud, drunken lounge singer prone to verbal abuse and mayhem) I didn't know--the hilarious appearance on the Dinah Shore show for example that I didn't know that much about. Plus some of the Kaufman and Zmuda real life gags were funny too. Lots of details and trademarks from Andy's life that are interesting if your a Kaufman geek like me. But, the only thing that bothered me about reading this was this is Bob Zmuda's version of some of this and you must take that with a grain of salt. A lot of the time Zmuda is trying to pump himself up too much or tries to take credit for a lot of the gags and while I don't doubt he had a hand in some of them, I'm just not sure it's as much as he says it is. If you are interested in Kaufman, watch one of the docs on his life, see Man on the Moon, watch the ABC special and then check this out to get some of the background info. A small part of me will never give up hope that Kaufman has pulled his greatest hoax: the faking of his own death. I know its very doubtful, but I can still hope and believe can't I? That's what being a fan of Kaufman is about anyway: the suspension of belief.       



Hello. Movies reviewed: Seance (2000), The River (1998) and Planet of the Apes (2001). Maybe a book at the end if I find I have time, I'm so far behind on these books...reviewed two of them: Hoolifan and The Missing World.

Seance (2000, Japan)                  NY--Screening Room

I showed up at the Screening Room expecting to see Kiyoshi Kurosawa's latest film Pulse, a horror story with ghosts in the internet. Well, the print did not show up from Japan, so I watched a different movie with ghosts from Kurosawa. Last time out in Kinetoscope, I reviewed his 1997 film Cure (3.5 outta 5) which was just released here in the u.s. but I think I enjoyed this more straight forward film that was made for Japanese tv and then given a transfer to film. I'm glad to have discovered Kurosawa as his two films I've seen bend the genre they are in and are atmospheric as all get out. Seance stars Kiyoshi regular and one of my recent favorites Koji Yakusho as a sound recordist who is married to a woman who has psychic proclivities. It may be an act when she's speaking for a person's dearly departed in seances (classic old time spiritualist shucksterism that dupes gullibles who crave to have any sort of contact that they eagerly repell disbelief) but she does also see these faceless spectres every now and then. This makes it kind of hard for her to work a public job with these unannounced hauntings popping up just for her. She also tries to help the police in a missing girl case and it causes trouble to come to their doorstep in unexpected and chilling ways. Seance has some truly creepy moments where ghosts appear quiet and wordless and Kurosawa knows that the waiting or hinting at the ghosts is 75% of the fun, so he doesn't knock us over the head with them. Seance's creepiness does not lesson by the end, it just sort of steamrolls with dashes of twisted, dark comedy pitched in there as well. Your imagination creates the fear which makes it more effective. I can't wait to see Pulse when it comes out in NY in the fall after seeing this atmospheric, dark little movie.            Joshua: 4

The RIver (1998, Taiwan)                    NY--Cinema Village

The River is the 4th Tsai Ming-Liang film I've seen in the past month and is by far the bleakest, most hopeless of the four. That's saying something because the other three are meditations on urban isolation among a variety of people who live in Taipei. The River sees a return to the same dysfunctional family seen in Tsai's Rebels of the Neon God and now they are even more messed up and lost. Before it was just the teenage son (played by Tsai regular Lee Kang-Sheng) who was troubled but now both the mother and father are having their own battles with internal desires that separates them not only from their family but the world around them. The father spends his time cruising gay bath houses and the mother is embroiled in a dead end affair with a guy who distros porn. No one talks to one another in this apartment. Everyone is in their own little world and the doors to the others are firmly shut and this adds to the sense of impending doom and the sheer hopelessness of the film. There is practically no dialogue in The River and very little actual story. An older couple sitting in front of me turned to one another and said, "This is boring. Nothing's happening!" 15 minutes later they got up and left the theatre. The River is just so incredibly relentless that it is one of the more depressingly styled films I've seen this year. That's okay most of the time because I'm kind of a depressed guy, but I wasn't in the mood for this much hopelessness. I mean, it offers no hope whatsoever as we know that if we check in with them in 5 years that very little will have changed. Tsai is obsessed with leaks in the ceiling and water in an apartment and The River had both. He needs help with these leak/water compulsions of his! Every Tsai film I've seen has a leak and water in the apartment and I've seen 5 of his movies now. Tsai must have had some kind of traumatic experience as a kid to still be fixating on it in every movie he does. The River is a real downer but that's okay, it's on the meandering and storyless side but that is classic Tsai, but I would have liked just a little more hope on this day as by the end the movie is practically drowning in the intense despair of its characters.             Joshua: 3

Planet of the Apes (2001)

To be honest, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this summer blockbuster from director Tim Burton that is a re-doing of the classic 1968 sci-fi film of the same name. The '68 film is one of my all time favorite sci-fi films and it haunted my childhood off and on for years. This 2001 version I doubt will have the same kind of impact on kids because it's just eye candy and not ideas as the first one was. That being said and out of the way, I liked this more than I was expecting to. Probably because of the just plain greatness of the idea of the movie itself: a variety of apes who rule the humans and the world. Great idea no matter how average the execution of the idea. Mark "Funky Bunch" Wahlberg plays astronaut Leo Davidson and crashes his space pod onto a strange planet and quickly discovers it is a messed up world indeed with apes in charge. The original Apes took its sweet time to get to the apes and the human round up scene, not this one though as they couldn't get to that scene fast enough. The humans talk in this one and frankly the dialogue was so weak that they would have been better served to just keep their mouths muted as it makes for a better story too with sharp contrasts between Leo and the other, supposedly more primitive humans. This one doesn't really even try to tackle some of the issues the original did (race, religion, oppression, class) as we see a couple of good apes and a couple of bad ones who either help or work against Leo getting off the planet. Leo himself, played with no personality at all by Wahlberg, is just a standard, cardboard action hero cut out with bad one liners (like "Never send a monkey to do a man's job." Awful.) and ripped muscles beneath his tight clothes. There's no real connection between Leo and the nice ape played by Helena Bonham Carter and the sad part is an attempt to create one is missing entirely. The only two areas this is better than the original is the apes and Rick Baker's makeup (which is incredible) and the jump up in production over all. Maybe I shouldn't be doing all this comparing of the two films, but when the first is such a classic and they are basically re-doing it, comparing the two is a given. The screenplay is very clunky, with silly, unfunny one liners/in jokes, thin characters, a lackluster plot that has an very abrubt ending that I found kind of forced. Tim Roth (Thade) gives a fervant performance and Paul Giamotti as a slave trading ape was quite funny but no one else in the cast stood out. Chuck Heston does have a small role as an ape but it's brief. There was also the absurd casting of some talentless model (Estella Warren I believe) who is there to provide heaving bosom beneath her cave woman hide top at appropriate moments. A couple of times she's clearly wearing lip gloss for god's sake! The gloss helps give the primal pouty look that so many women who live in a cave are going for. She was in the movie just so Wahlberg could make out with and stare longingly at over the campfire. Absurd. This is starting to sound more and more negative which wasn't my original intention as this is not the worst of films as summer fare goes. Liked Burton regular and former Oingo Boingo front man Danny Elfman's score. All in all, this was flawed and very average, but thanks to a great idea about apes controlling the planet, it is somewhat entertaining despite its problems.      Joshua: 3

Okay, here's two book reviews for you...

Hoolifan: 30 Years of Hurt (1999)                by  Martin King

This book has a great, appropriate title. I'm interested in a wide variety of strange subcultures and one of which is soccer hooligans in England. A few years ago I read and loved a book called Among the Thugs that is highly recommended about the subject if anyone is interested. I came across Hoolifan in this tiny East Village place called the Onion Bag Shop that is owned by this English guy and has nothing but soccer stuff in it. Focus is on England and Europe, with a large selection of imported books on soccer. There were about 10 on hooliganism to choose from and I settled on Hoolifan. This book is written by a real life hooligan--although King abhors that term--and is about his life as a member of one of England's toughest firms (gangs), the Chelsea Headhunters. King describes how he became involved as a teen following Chelsea and talks openly and without apology about violence connected with his Chelsea mob. Some of it is humorous, often violent, but it can get a little repetitive talking about fighting agains West Ham or Millwall or other tough firms. It was really interesting to read about the connection of soccer firms and fashion tastes and how each team's supporters had their own unique look and hair cut to go along with their chants and songs. When I lived in London in 1989 I got caught on the periphery of a serious fight/riot near Tottenham Court Road and I have no clue what firm was involved, I just remember lots of broken glass on the sidewalk, bobbies everywhere and bloodied faces from the soccer fans. That's as close as I'll come to soccer violence which is maybe the reason I like reading about these people? I just can't imagine meeting up with a group of Steeler fans, seek out some Brown fans and then commence to have a brawl in the street. I am fascinated by the sociology and the mindset of people who combine violence with sport and the violence is often much more important than what actually happens on the pitch itself.

The Missing World (2000)               by Margot Livesey

The Missing World is an interesting novel combining ideas such as obsessive love, memory and coincidence and/or fate into its story. The book takes the literary thriller and gives the genre smarts and none of the cheap ploys that the bulk of those kinds of books drown themselves in. The Scottish Livesey uses three characters to tell her story. There is Jonathan, a stuff shirt insurance claims investigator and beekeeper who is still in love with Hazel despite her leaving him. Hazel is hit by a car and as a result loses three years of her memory. Jonathan has the chance to "redo" their relationship, salvage what went wrong and make Hazel love him again. The two other characters who tell the story are Charlotte, a struggling actress and Freddie, an American expatriate making a living as a roofer who has his own issues to work through. All the characters will move toward one another and cross into each other's lives. The Missing World's effectiveness is that it takes place among the ordinary and normal and that gives the book its power. This ordinary quality can be sort of deceiving as there are things going on below the surface of most of those involved that give the book an imbedded layer of darkness.

 

Got a variety of releases that I saw the past few weeks. Minority Report, texas Chainsaw Massacre,
Bartleby, the Night Visitor and Dr. Akagi. Enjoy. Scoring is 1-5 for newcomers.

The texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, usa)

Believe it or not I'd never seen this horror freak out completely through. I'd seen snippets here
and there but never the film in its entirety. I sure would love to time machine it back to 1974 to
watch this in a theatre, or better yet, a drive in. This is a perfect drive in movie. This film is
no frills low budget standard for the first 30 minutes as 5 people driving in a van pick up a
weird hitch hiker who freaks them out and attacks a whiny guy in a wheelchair for no reason w/ a
dirty knife. This is after he slices up his own hand while howling w/ hysterical laughter. The
group is heading to a broken down farm house for no reason. they all go off one by one only to
meet one of horror movies most infamous killers: LEATHERFACE! Ol' Leatherface wields a chainsaw,
likes to butcher people and animals and draws his name from his mask of human flesh. People are
killed, none all that graphic compared to the myriad of gore horror films released since this. The
film gets really deranged when one of the women gets taken hostage by the motley crew who are
obviously INSANE! They tie her, gag her, cut her open so a 1/2 dead zombie grandpa can suck her
blood and generally act out of their minds. The unhinged, frenetic, w/ non stop screaming last 30
minutes is what has made this such a cult favorite for nearly 30 years. Director TOBE HOOPER got
to make one Hollywood film after this, the great Poltergeist (which scared the crap out of me as a
13 year old watching it in a theatre in Muskogee, OK w/ my cousin Andi) and then faded back to
genre b films and tv stuff. The texas Chainsaw Massacre is a psychotic freakshow after the first
half is gone and we get to the killing and mayhem and almost seems like it was filmed by by some
cult living out in the middle of nowheresville texas.           JOSHUA: 3.5

Minority Report (2002, usa)               w/ Nancy and Sveta

The first 3/4 of the summer blockbuster Minority Report is a thrilling, teknology overloaded ride
that is about the best thing director STEVEN SPIELBERG has done in a while, then it goes wrong at
the end when Spielberg has to be Spielberg. The man has serious, serious problems on how to end a
movie. Think about it. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN  (an embarrassing display at the start AND finish of
patriotic heavyhanded schmaltz), A.I. (confusing enough that 1/2 the viewers missed his point) and
even SCHINDLER'S LIST had an ending not worthy of the rest of the film. Minority Report doesn't
know it should have already ended and left us w/ a jolt when it starts down a typical Spielbergian
path where he has to make everything nice and upbeat so we'll all feel good as we exit the
theatre. For real cinema fans it's insulting and annoying. Rather than end the film on a
disturbing, but infinitely more interesting way, we get hoky sentimentalism that feels false to
the bone. It's too bad as this was so enjoyable before the wretched ending arrives. Minority
Report is based on a story by sci fi great PHILIP K. DICK. I am a fan of Dick's from way back as
he's written some of the most memorable sci-fi novels i've read. You can always expect terrific,
mind bending ideas + philosophy  and neat futuristic gadgets and inventions when reading Dick.
Spielberg and co. have latched onto the gadget angle and taken it through the roof. The 2054
setting is going to bring a lof of changes as teknology extends its influence and control over the
way we live. One major difference will be the roads. Cars will travel sideways, up and down
buildings and streets. Very interesting and the komputer graphics looked good, at least Spielberg
gets the cashflow to make it look all good. Murder has all been wiped clean in Washington DC
thanks to the precogs and the precrime department who can predict BEFORE a murder is commited and
they arrest the person before they do the crime. Erasing crime will be the 1st step in eradicating
passion in the future world. Head detective in precrime is John (played by Grinnin' TOM CRUISE),
who is still reeling from the death of his son 6 years earlier (before pre-crime started, which is
why he's so gung-ho for this system of stopping murder). A hot shot young FBI investigator begins
snooping w/ in the department (he's played by swaggering Irishman COLIN FARRELL in what was
terrible miscasting. CF is way too young to play this role. Maybe it's just because I don't think
much of him that I think that? I read a New Yorker review last week and they said it was perfect
casting of CF, but they are wrong!). The hotshot exists to give Cruise someone to be chased by
when he is schocked to see his image blowing away a man he's never seen in some precog's vision of
the future. While on the run he gets the chance to redeem himself (guess if he does or not. it's
easy w/ Spielberg at the helm.) and topple the hidden guilty person. Rant time again. I'm angry at
the way this was cheapened at the end but don't let that scare you from seeing it as it is great
sci-fi w/ some splendid character support by SAMANTHA MORTON, PETER STORMARE (another small,
zonked out role for him), Okie TIM BLAKE NELSON & MAX VON SYDOW. The production design is flawless
and the cinematography is stunning as is the effects. Minority Report is a rousing, invigerating
sci fi mystery adventure until Spielberg blows it and nearly ruins it like he always does. He'd
rather cheapen it for the masses rather than make it truly great but since I wasn't all that
shocked that Spielberg has absolutely NO GUTS, my score reflects the terrific 1st 3/4 or more of
Minority Report.   JOSHUA: 4          NANCY: 3.5       SVETA: 4

The Night Visitor (1970, Sweden)

Two films in a row w/ MAX VON SYDOW as he plays Salem in the Night Visitor. Early on we see Salem
running through wintry Swedish tundra barely clothed and wearing boots. He sneaks into a house,
eavesdrops on a trio downstairs and then leaves to do things that may have gotten him imprisoned
in a remote asylm. It's not remote enough though as Salem has obviously found out how to escape,
but how? The authorities are torn--could Salem have escaped and returned? Is he killing people or
is it his bro in law, a doctor who Salem hates, doing the killing? There are no night scenes in
the Night Visitor as it takes place far enough north to get nothing but sun. This is slow and has
an icy feel to it that matches the snow, cold, arctic sunlight and wind bursts perfectly. Von
Sydow is good as the chilling villain as we see him in and out of prison and there is a long,
great scene of how he escapes from the asylm. The Night Visitor is a quiet little psychological
thriller that is pretty entertaining and unlike the earlier review of Minority Report, has a great
ending. I just can't stop can I? Spilberg blew it, as always.              JOSHUA: 3.5

Dr. Akagi (1998, Japan)

Legendary Japanese director IMAMURA SHOHEI made this film as his last (he's since come out of
retirement to make another, yeah!) after a great career w/ films such as THE EEL, BLACK RAIN, THE
PORNOGRAPHERS AND THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA. Imamura is truly a wonderful director who has given
viewpoints into a variety of facets of Japanese culture and society. He has blended the
traditional w/ the modern in his films but the one constant are the relationships between people
as they live their daily lives. Dr. Akagi can be thought of as a companion to his atomic bomb
aftermath film Black Rain (highly recommended!) as it is set in 1945 right before the end of  WWII
and the atomic bomb drops. The action takes place around the town's doctor, Akagi, a man who runs
to and from his patients and diagnoses so many of them w/ hepatitis or liver trouble that his is
know as "Liver" amongst the town. He remains undaunted and is obsessed while attracting a rag tag
group of helpers that include an attractive part time prostitute, a morphine addict surgeon, a
drunk on sake beaurocrat: all resisting the idea that the war is not lost and Japan can still win
even though their humanity and dignity is gone gone gone. I liked this but not as much as the
films I mentioned above, but Dr. Akagi is still a good and worthy film from one of the world's
best older directors.              Joshua: 3.5

Bartleby (2002, usa)

This was a wonderfully weird film based on a Melville short story and starring the genuinely
strange CRISPIN HELLION GLOVER as Bartleby. A public records office needs a new employee and the
only person to respond to the ad is Bartleby. He's odd when hired and gets even odder when he
starts to refuse to work or talk to the boss or co-workers. DAVID PAYMER plays the confused,
frustrated boss who has no clue his wordy, vamp of a secratary likes him or how to deal w/ the
bizarre Bartleby. What to do if someone who refuses to work? Fire them? Bartleby refuses to accept
that firing and just keeps staring at the air conditioning vent that he's obsessed with. This is a
strange little film w/ a great theremin score and production design that captures the hellishly
tacky claustrophobic office environs to a t. Good cast of oddballs (even w/ JOE PISCAPO!). Glover
is perfect as Bartleby. He barely speaks, is unable to make eye contact or conversation, is
ghostly pale as he repeats his mantra of "I would prefer not to." If this were a big Hollywood
summer movie, "I would prefer" would be the catch phrase of the moment. Heck, I might start saying
it and see if it catches on. If your in the mood for a strange little comedy then check Bartleby
out + it's a must for Glover fans!                   Joshua: 4

My last group of films from the 2002 SIFF. Kind of a disappointment this year as I saw too many
mediocre movies of the 23 that I saw. Best film I saw: The Fast Runner. Worst: Millennium Mambo or
maybe My Brother The Silk Road (reviewed this Kinetoscope). I don't know how many of these films
will come out so this might be video store hints for those of you living outside of major cities,
if anyone is taking notice of this stuff anyway. Enjoy!

Films reviewed: Secret Ballot (Iran), 13 Moons (usa), Running Out of Time 2 (Hong Kong), Sass
(Germany), God is Great, I'm Very Small (France), Dark Water (Japan) and My Brother Silk Road
(Kyrgizstan).

Secret Ballot (2001, Iran)             saw at the Harvard Exit with Leah Vu

I usually try and see a couple of films from Iran each SIFF and this is the first I've seen so far
in 2002. I liked Secret ballot. It's similar to most Iranian films (even though it was written/
directed by an Iranian/Canadian from Toronto named Babak Payami) as it takes this wildly
simplistic idea and then forms a story around it. Secret Ballot is about a lot of things: the
chaotic election process in Iran, the women/men relationships there, the isolation of rural areas
and the role of women in Iranian society. That's four, you could probably find more if you wanted.
A woman college age shows up at an outpost remote from cities and people and takes a sloth like
soldier along looking for people willing to vote. It's harder to find voters than she thinks it
might be as a lot of folks just don't want anything to do w/ the woman or casting a vote for the
democracy that she touts ceaselessly. Secret Ballot has a good deal of sly, quiet moments and its
this intelligent astuteness that I liked the most about it. I also enjoyed the harsh, remote
terrain the film is set. Last time I said how much I liked arctic settings, well, I also love the
desert as a location. I'm easy to please aren't I? The entire cast is full of non-pros who have
never acted before and they do a fine job and are natural throughout. I especially liked the
soldier who seems almost catatonic he's so slow talking. This is a very typical Iranian film:
simple, slowish, extremely long and drawn out takes and full of non actors and real people. Plus
it's a sly satire that has its own charms.                            Joshua: 3.5              
Leah Vu: 3

13 Moons (2001, usa)                  saw this one at the Egyptian w/ Nancy Churillo

Shot on DV indie film from director Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup) that kind of hits and misses
as it is a comedy/drama road movie set entirely w/ in the confines of Los Angeles. Can you make a
road movie w/ out leaving a city's limits? This one is. There is a lot of driving around and going
to various places in 13 Moons over the span of a single crazy night when chaos rules and chance
meetings bring a clown, his midget co-hort, his stripper mistress, a tough talking rapper, a
bailbondsman, a sick boy and a drugged out Santa Claus all together. I saw this because of Steve
Buscemi, who plays the burnt out clown Bananas. What can you say about one of my favorites in
Buscemi? He's always watchable and that's the case w/ 13 Moons. This film has a huge indie cast w/
Sam Rockwell (is he related to Alexandre? does anyone know if he is?), Peter Stormare (as the
drugged out, deranged Santa in a twisted role), Jennifer Beals (the director's real life wife) and
the snooty sister from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air tv show + a bunch of others. A big ol' indie
ensemble. I liked some of the dark comedy bits but the whole "boy needs a kidney" dilemma was
tired tired tired. Plus, no matter how different all these folks were, they must bond and all be
buddies at the end. Annoying. Points for Buscemi though. Rockwell's DV doesn't look very good and
gets too close to some of the actors. Once he's almost entirely up a person's nostril! 13 Moons is
hit and miss and pretty average actually.                       Joshua: 2.5                    
Nancy Churillo: 3

Running Out of Time 2 (2001, Hong Kong)

I've seen a handful of director Johnny To's action/crime films so I decided to see this
comedy/action movie about cat and mouse games between a tenacious cop tracking down a criminal who
has a love of hijinks as he leads the cop on a series of criminal tomfoolery. The criminal is a
well dressed smooth as silk guy who can escape from any situation like he's an Asian James Bond.
Cop/criminal are cool and collected and act almost as if they are rival siblings rather than cop
vs. robber. This was okay, the action or comedy never spectacular. I've seen better Hong Kong
action and funnier comedies but it was still entertaining for genre fans like myself. Kelly Lin is
also in this. She's very attractive. Not much of an actor though.                    Joshua: 3

Sass (2001, Germany)

I was pronouncing this German film Sass (rhymes w/ class) but evidently it's pronounced as if it
is the word sauce. My poor Okie tongue. Sass is a twist, a German capor/heist film about a pair of
brothers in the 1930s as they rob banks and get on the wrong side of local gangsters and the
biggest gang of all: the Nazis. The Sass brothers start their career as criminals because of tax
collectors who are about to foreclose their garage. To prevent this, it's bank robbing time. At
first, they are rather bumbling but evolve into pros who go rather high tech for the time and
become celebrities. The brothers want one last big score before "retiring" and going off to
America. No matter the country of the capor film: the last big job is almost always apart of the
scheming. Sass isn't all that suspenseful yet has an attention to period Berlin detail that is
interesting no matter how by the numbers this is to the heist film formula. Sass is a crime film
low on the details of the actual robbing and tends to focus on the after effects of their crimes:
the money, the clothes, the new house, the hot women who wouldn't look their way before they
became rich and famous. It's this style and flair are the best things about Sass to me. Everything
else is not that compelling.       Joshua: 3

God Is Great, I'm Very Small (2001, France)

French romantic comedy that succeeds mostly because of its female lead, the very adorable Audrey
Tautou. I was charmed by her in Amelie (along w/ everyone else who saw this movie) and this
quirky, charasmatic role only solidifies her enchanting personality on screen. Tautou plays
Michelle, a 20 year old model, struggling w/ a fresh break up while seeking solace in a variety of
spiritual pursuits. She's Catholic, she's Buddhist, she's willing to embrace any faith. Michelle
meets a 32 year old Jewish veterinarian and voila!: she's converting. God is Great is a cutesy
romantic comedy and is mostly lightweight despite all the different religions represented. Plus
the scenes regarding Jewish traditions get the comic overhaul. Instead of culture clash humor we
get religion clash humor and that's just not as funny to me. Director Pascale Bailly's debut film
has all these fast fade outs all through the film and I didn't care for that too much. I always
get kind of distracted when quick fade outs are used over and over. It seems to halt the forward
movement of the movie. This is not a ground breaker but if you like romantic comedies or Tautou
then you'll probably enjoy God is Great, I'm Very Small.                       Joshua: 3

Dark Water (2002, Japan)       saw this at the Egyptian w/ Nancy, Emily and Joshua #2

Director Hideo Nakata's latest involves an empty run down apartment building, which may be haunted
or possible demonic, and a divorced woman and her 6 year old daughter Ikuko. The mother must be
suffering from serious post divorce impairment of judgement to rent this place. I'd run screaming
from the lobby after 5 minutes in this scary building. The place is literally lifeless and
soulless, all grey and damp w/ the rain pounding down almost ceaselessly. After the pair move in,
a wet stain in the ceiling begins to drip and then grow larger. Weird events start to happen.
Ikuko is maybe in danger as her mother is kind of emotionally unhinged and unable to look after
her properly. Dark Water uses a few solid aspects for a creepy psycho/horror film: a cute 6 year
old girl who might be hurt or killed, a ghost little girl who might not be a good spirit to haunt
you, and the setting of the dark, empty, creeking, rainsoaked building. The building itself is a
very atmospheric setting that is probably the best thing about the movie. The last 30 minutes or
so of Dark Water was very enjoyable and had a few very creepy and jolting moments (although
somewhat predictable) but the previous hour was a little too slow for me. Maybe it was the
midnight start time making me sleepy? Not enough was happening as it goes into the woman's
problems w/ her ex-husband or trying to find work as a proof reader. I don't care what the woman
is doing for a living damn it, get to the dang ghosts! This does have a great horror score that
really ratchets up the tension in that last 30. Still worth seeing (as you'll see, the scores from
us 4 are all over the map) for the atmosphere and creepy qualities it has.    Joshua#1 (me): 3   
       Nancy: 2.5            Emily: 3.5                Joshua#2: 4

My Brother Silk Road (2001, Kyrgizstan)         saw this at harvard exit w/ Leah Vu

Last film at this years SIFF. I'm glad. I end SIFF w/ a whimper w/ this film from Kyrgizstan (my
first!) as I didn't care for this so much. In fact, I didn't really like it a whole lot. Very
little story as we just see a lot of little vignettes among people on a train or young kids who
spend their time wandering in the woods or near the tracks. That's about it and none of it a whole
lot interesting or compelling. The only thing that really saves My Brother Silk Road in my eyes
was the lovely outdoor black and white cinematography. Lots of pretty silverish tones in these
scenes. Other than that, not much to recommend this. Terrible sound mix too w/ these extremely
loud bursts of sond w/ out any warning. I'm burnt out on reviewing these subpar films, not worth
my time, so I'll stop.            Joshua: 2             Leah: 2.5

A little over one/third through the 2002 Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) and I've seen
ten films so far (one of which is one of my all time favorites, which i'd put in my top list if i
ever make one, read on to find out which movie EVERY one of you should watch in rapt attention),
15 to go. Last time I was here in 2000 I had the full pass and saw about 80+ movies in 3 weeks. I
am extremely disappointed not to be standing in that pass line and seeing more and MORE movies.
I'll have to make do w/ my paltry 25 and be happy about it. Here goes a blur of reviews, speed
typed, excuse the typos etc...

Movies: CQ, Happy Times, La Spagnola, Love in the Time of Money, Yellow Asphalt, Quitting,
Cinemania, Days of Heaven, The Navigators and 24 Hour Party People.

CQ (2002, usa)           watched it @ the Harvard Exit (Seattle's haunted theatre)

Film one at SIFF. I didn't really feel like seeing this due to illness (serious viral infection
that caused electric bolts of pain w/ every swallow, all better as I write this) but I went and it
wasn't a very good debut for ROMAN COPPALA (yeah, it's Frances' son). CQ is a very thinly
constructed film from a man who wears his music video roots on his sleeve. CQ has a lot of style
to it yet is so flimsy in idea that it often seems like it's an extended short film. NO substance
or depth whatsoever. JEREMY DAVIES plays Paul, an American film editor working on a schlocky late
'60s spy sex farce b-movie in Paris called Dragonfly. The film is a goofy disaster & after a
serious of not so funny and barely funny events Paul is allowed to finish the picture at the helm
as director. Paul is also making a black n white film about all the little moments in his life
which is about as artificial and phony as the sex farce movie. This side film allows us to see his
topsy turvy relationship w/ his French girlfriend played by one of my favorites, ELODIE BOUCHEZ
(Wild Reeds and The Dreamlife of Angels). Bouchez I get to see totally naked for the 2nd time in 3
days, which is not a bad thing, but the movies she's stripping her clothes off in are just crappy
(the other was that horrible, pretentious French piece of crap Don't Let Me Die On a Sunday that I
reviewed last time). Even Bouchez naked can't  make this anything more than it is: a shallow piece
of hipsterism fluff that grew more tedious as it went on. Style alone can't make a film like CQ
worth more than it is deep down. Not a good start to SIFF.          Joshua: 2

HAPPY TIMES (2001, China)         i watched this one @ the Egyptian

ZHANG YIMOU's latest film is much lighter than his usual heavy dose of historical epics that lean
decidedly toward tragedy. I'm surprised that he did this as I'm so used to his serious dramas.
Happy Times won't stick to your bones and linger in your mond like RAISE THE RED LANTERN but it's
still an entertaining little story, if at times too saccherine and sweet and melodramatic for my
tastes. An older guy dreams of marrying a heavyset woman to keep him warm at night. To appease her
(she's a nightmare candidate for companionship) he will get her stepdaughter a job at the Happy
Times Hotel he runs. I should point out, it isn't  hotel at all, it is a fixed up bus in a park w/
red painted windows he charges amarous couples for a place to unwind and unrobe in private. He
tells his lady friend how big a hotel it is to look the big shot. The stepdaughter is blind and
troubled. Of course, they form a bond that is going to end up lasting longer and remain stronger
than his bond w/ the awful woman he thinks he wants to marry. He and his friends go to great
lengths to disguise things from the blind girl, mostly funny in a charmingly syruppy sweet way.
It's good that Zhang Yimou is setting stuff in modern times but this doesn't have the poignant
power his dramas have--but that might be in the difference between a comedy and a drama as a
genre.                          Joshua: 3

LA SPAGNOLA (2001, Australia)          saw it at The Egyptian

After standing in the charming alley way next to the Egyptian, w/ the dumpsters, the gnats, the
fumes from the gas pumps next door, the pigeons who were trying to shat on us from the roof, saw
this crowd pleaser. The women in the almost full screening seemed to eat this movie up, loudly
hooting, laughing and clapping when the credits rolled at the end. I was entertained, but not to
the point the women around me were. La Spagnola follows a 14 year old girl in 1960s rural
Australia who is having a hard time growing up under the chaotic and dysfunctional shadow of her
mother and father. Dad has left home for an Australian "whore" (their words) and Mom is off the
deep end, ranting and raaving, putting on tight dresses and lots of lipstick and generally making
her daughter's life miserable because she is reminded of her bastard of a husband. The mother's
hollering and screaming about things got old real quick for me. The only thing that saved this
were the ribald scenes revolving around sex or talking about sex. One scene in particular
involving a cucumber sent the audience into a stomping, delirious, howling fit. It was a pretty
funny scene, it just didn't make up for the repetitive nature of the rest of this coming of age
tale. La Spagnola is okay, but I'm yet to be enthralled or blown away at SIFF2002.       Joshua: 3

LOVE IN THE TIME OF MONEY (2001, usa)               saw this at a multiplex downtown

This was a pretty entertaining low budget dark comedy from writer/director PETER MATTEI. I chose
this because it is a STEVE BUSCEMI comedy and he's one of my long time faves. Like everyone else,
he's got a fairly small role as this is a film of pairs. One person has a romantic entanglement w/
a person and then they leave and the new person goes off w/ their own romantic connection. Each
actor has two situations w/ varying amounts of screen time. Everything revolves around
connections, love, affairs, matters of the heart in various parts of New York City. Buscemi, for
example, plays an artist who hasn't had many shows recently (might have something to do w/ his
triangle series of paintings that he hopes will infect the art world like a virus and bring it to
its knees--a funny scene) who is offered an exchange of money/a future show for intimate relations
by a male patron. Never seen Buscemi kiss a man on screen before, although it's not much of a
kiss. After that Buscemi meets a young receptionist at a gallery who he is smitten by and wants to
draw her, among other things. Who could blame him as she's played by curvy beauty ROSARIO DAWSON.
After their fling, Dawson then goes onto scenes w/ boyfriend and so on and so on. I liked this as
it was good once the first coupld of scenarios are gone and Buscemi, Dawson, CAROL KANE, MICHAEL
IMPERIOLLI (?) show up. A smart screenplay by Mattei too. This was a good one hindered only by a
sluggish start.               Joshua: 3.5

YELLOW ASPHALT (2000, Israel)        @ the multiplex again

Written and directed by DANNY VERETE, Yellow Asphalt tells three separate stories chronicling life
among the Bedouin tribes of remote Israel. I'm really into these kinds of films about people like
the nomad Bedouins. I eat it up and greatly enjoyed Verete's film. It is an intense, gripping,
sad, interesting look into these people and the conflict that arises because of the codes, honor
systems and other traditions handed down by ancestors or Islam. Like it or not, these people have
their own way of dealing w/ events and occurrances w/ in their tribe, no matter what is going on
in the socio/geo political maelstorm swirling around them. The stories are simple yet engrossing:
a boy gets killed by a truck, a woman desperately wants away from her husband and tries to take
her two kids w/ her, a woman is having an affair w/ her Jewish boss risking harm to all who know
of the affair. Some might find a film like Yellow Asphalt depressing, bleak or whatever, I find it
and their ilk unbelievably fascinating. Plus I got to see a fire test! Good stuff.               
   Joshua: 4

QUITTING (2001, CHINA)          unfortunately at the multiplex again---burn them down!

This was a terrible disappointment! Not only did I not like this a whole lot, but considering that
the writer/director is ZHANG YANG and he made two films I recently saw and truly loved in SHOWER
and SPICY LOVE SOUP. His latest film lacks all the warmth, charm, and little moments of intimate
tenderness that made those films so special to watch for me. Quitting has an unusual premise in
the way it is set up. Real life actors play themselves and recreate a troubling part of their
lives. A messed up, once famous actor, lost in a haze of drugs, suddenly finds his parents and
sister moving into his apartment which cramps his style big time. He's a selfish, addict punk who
treats his parents like total crap (as addicts will often do I suppose) and the movie is an
endless, humorless series of scens w/ the son screaming, hitting, and generally abusing and
terrorizing his parents. What fun! I can't stand movies like this. So self indulgent as these
people often are. Quitting was a huge disappointment to me. Huge. Plus, here's a quick story w/
something that's never happened to me in a movie before and I've seen probably nearly 1.000 movies
in a theatre in my life, if not more. A very annoying, full of herself Englishwoman was sitting
behind me. I had to listen to her babble on about crap for 20 minutes before the show. When the
lights went dim and credits rolled I feel a tap on my right shoulder and have her hot breath in my
ear saying, "Could you lower your head please?" First off: I hate being touched by people I don't
know very well. Hate it! Second: lower my head? I'm not 1/2 turtle! "What?" I mumble in disbelief.
"Could you sort of relax and push down in your seat?" In front of me was a giant of a man,
squishing down in my seat would have given me a nice view of his crew cutted square skull.
"There's a head in my way." I told her out of the side of my mouth. This was the last thing I was
saying to this twit (there's a bit of english slang for you). The nerve! The first 10 minutes  I
was distracted by this moron touching me and asking me to relax my head. Then, late in the movie
(it felt like about hour #5 in only a 2 hour movie, that's how slow it was for me), the giant head
guy in front of me drifted back and explosive snores came out of him! I'm talking loud here folks.
After 2 or 3 of the blasts, I took my foot and kicked gently into his seat, waking him and ending
his assault on those around him. Too bad he wasn't next to the Brit princess behind me. Quitting
was not good.       Joshua: 2

CINEMANIA (2002, Germany/usa)              saw this at the Broadway Performance Hall

This was a very enjoyable documentary about 5 people in New York City who have pretty much
dedicated their lives to watching movies. It is the ONLY thing this motley group of dreamers have.
Everything, and I mean everything, is secondary. These people see 4 or 5 or 6 films EVERY day! Not
on video either, I'm talking about in a movie theatre. They don't work, they live in pack rat,
tiny spaces, some in squalor, yet don't care, as long as there is a screening to attend. After
watching this, I don't feel so compulsive and geeky about doing this Kinetoscope since 1998. It's
evolved into something more than just movie reviews at this point. Books, plays, gigs, sporting
events, any and all shows and entertainment is in here. Listmaking regarding the films is a much
looked forward to monthly ritual I go through as I chart such things as: how many films this
month, what decade were they from, where I saw them, who I was with, in a theatre vs at my
apartment or at someone's house, documentaries, black n white vs color, what country a film is
from. I'm owning up to my cinegeek true self here people. The exciting and sad thing is I don't
see this Kinetoscope project of mine ending anytime soon. I'll be 80 and asking someone, "So,
what's yr score?" Maybe I should be embarrassed? I'm not. I feel a very strong kinship w/ these
people but luckilly, I'm not as far gone as they are, yet! Something to shoot for I guess. My
paltry 275 films a year? Nothing at all. Another funny thing about this is I used to go to a lot
of the same theatres in New York as they frequent: Film Forum, Walter Reade, MoMa, AMMI in
Astoria. While at the AMMI I remember seeing one of thepeople in this --Harvey--on more than one
occassion! I remember watching this bearded, strange man, little did I really know, he could have
been my cinema film geek/buff guru! Come to find out Harvey is obsessed w/ a film's running time,
memorizing hundreds upon thousands of them. If you get if to a minute, he'll tell you about it.
These are generally very smart people, lost in the prison of their obsessive need to escape, to
lose themself in the spinning dream world of movies. Do I see myself a little bit in them? I'd be
a complete liar if I said I didn't. i just can't let watching movies become the ONLY thing I ever
do w/ my time, that time goes to the other two of the big three: books and records! I liked this a
lot.          Joshua: 4

DAYS OF HEAVEN (1978, usa)                   saw at the Egyptian

Has anyone ever made the movement of wheat in the wind a more beautiful sight? I don't think so. I
could watch the wheat move as it does in TERRENCE MALICK's second film for hours. I'm not joking.
It's unbelievably gorgeous, honest. For those who don't know, Malick made two legendary films in
the 1970s: BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN. He then walked away from the film industry for 20 years
before returning a few years ago to make his meditation on war, THE THIN RED LINE (a film you
either love or hate, I think it's obvious w/ this review which camp I'm in). Days of Heaven is
like this: 1916, a steelworker gets into trouble in Chicago (RICHARD GERE, don't worry, thankfully
he doesn't ruin this like he does everything else he's ever been in), flees to the West texas
wheatlands w/ his younger sister and his lover (BROOKE ADAMS) who pretend to be brother and
sister, they get work in the field, the farm owner (SAM SHEPARD) develops an eye for Adams and a
plot is hatched to get all three of them into the big house. This is a beautifully filmed movie.
I'm not sure you can tell me an American movie w/ its equal in # of shots that are just eye
opening and stunning. Most of the shots are connected to nature: the wheat!, so everpresent it's
almost a co-star, water, sunsets, the wind blowing, the crops, animals and on and on. Malick has
made THE epic rural visual poem w/ Days of Heaven. You can not out do this film in that regard.
It's not possible. Gere is not as bad as he usually is because he has little dialogue---there is
little in the entire movie---and basically is just filmed silent in the midst of all this natural
prairie beauty and romantic triangle that surrounds him. That's one way to handle Gere: give him
no words to say! If there is a worse American male actor I'd like for one of you to point him out
to me. Just one. Days of Heaven could have almost been a silent film so few words are spoken. I
just am so happy I got to see Days of Heaven on a terrific archival print w/ all of Malick's
images unfolding on the screen. It's such a shame he walked away from filmmaking for France after
this. Watching Days of Heaven makes me want to move onto some incredibly isolated patch of prairie
land and sit out on the porch every single night and watch the sunset pink and majestic in the
distance while the wind blows the wheat back and forth, back and forth. I don't know what I'd rank
Days of Heaven, but it's w/out a doubt in the top 50.                  Joshua: 5!

THE NAVIGATORS (2001, England)               saw it at the Harvard Exit

i was tempted to skip this one because I wanted to soak up more of DAYS OF HEAVEN (see that movie
if you haven't already!). I'm glad I went as it is one of those "workers gettin' screwed by
idiotic management" movies I'm a fan of. I just like these kinds of films about guys on strike,
unions and like. I was surprised on the amount of humor early on in this KEN LOACH directed film.
His films are usually way more serious but this has a lot of quips, with all the co-workers
razzing one another and using all the lovely English slang. "Fuckin' lovely!" being my favorite.
Or, you can't go wrong w/ the old standby: bollocks. Navigators is set among railworkers who show
up for work to be told they are no longer British Rail employees, but now a private entity and
little by little they realize that if they want to continue working the rails, they are going to
have to suffer many changes in the way they do things. These new companies will gradually strip
the men of their ethics, manhood and the ability to work w/o being able to stand up for
themselves. The new company management is more concerned about idiotic "mission statements" than
safety or respecting their workers. Mission statements are mostly a waste of time for everyone but
for these guys they are an asinine late 20th century con job by over controlling mba grads to
foist on the employees to elicit control over them. Comically absurd. This does become more and
more serious toward the end as we see how the situation alters the men as they sacrifice
friendship for the sake of the the paycheck and their new, soul sucking companies they toil for. 
                          Joshua: 4

24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE (2002, England)     @ the egyptian

Director MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM's latest is a fast paced drama/comedy on the Manchester music scene
circa late '70s and through the '80s and some of the '90s through the view point of Tony Wilson,
newsman, clubowner and creator of Factory Records. And while this is whiz bang enjoyable,
especially the early 1/2 w/ the bands I was more interested in, it is pretty flimsy. It is largely
constructed from bouncing from one band singing to the next band singing or to dancing in a club
or debauchery w/ Wilson making little quips to the camera (always annoying to me!) as important
moments occur (for the audience who may be unaware of whatever obscure rock history might be made
at that moment in time). It seems more concerned as a movie of capturing the attitude and look and
surface of the movement, which is fine, I just would have preferred more band and music stuff, and
less made for a video stuff, which a lot of 24 Hour Party People becomes. Also, some of the order
or way some of this is shown doesn't seem right to me, but maybe I'm nitpicking. Worth seeing for
music fans, especially JOY DIVISION/NEW ORDER fans as both of those bands are basically canonized,
especially IAN CURTIS. All right but nothing spectacular.                     Joshua: 3

Movies: AVALON, CHOPPER, TELL ME SOMETHING, SHOW ME
LOVE, GENGHIS BLUES. For those who don't remember,
it's a 1-5 scoring system here in Kinetoscope land. If
you missed these and want me to do more, let me know
and maybe I can start this up again.

AVALON (2001, Japan)

This live action film from anime director M. Ishii
blew me away! Without a doubt, the coolest movie I've
seen this year. Everything about this was just cool,
no other word for it. I really loved Oshii's Ghost In
the Shell film a few years ago but Avalon was even
better! Shot in Poland w/ Polish actors and then
reassembled, filtered, edited, altered, manipulated
via komputer in Japan, Avalon has a dreamlike quality
to it that I loved. A lot of the muted brownish colors
and cold future world w/ out color reminded me of the
French team of Caro/Jeunot (not Jeunot's Amelie
though). Avalon's story is set around a woman named
Ash. She makes her living playing the military virtual
reality game Avalon. The game is so real that it can
konk your nervous system out and leave you muted and
brain dead in a hospital bed. Ash is a loner on the
game and a highly skilled killing machine. She
encounters a guy named Bishop who will lead her to her
past and her future by confronting "The Ghost" while
in the game program. I liked the bleak atmosphere of
the future world. It's not a happy looking place.
Everything is brown, lifeless, people are silent,
automatrons in their daily activities. It's a
withdrawn society Ash inhabits w/ little or no human
communication when she isn't playing the game. The
only talking she does is w/ the game master, about the
game to other players or her sweet, brown eyed basset
hound. This is a lonely world. I don't know if Ishii
filtered everything through a komputer but the images
were terrific throughout the movie. The battle scenes
were also a highlight for me. High tech equipment
combined w/ heavy weaponry, komputer manipulation
provided numerous striking images during the fight
scenes. I loved the way the characters who'd been shot
and killed sort of separated into slivers and then
evaporated. Too cool. Odd, up for interpretation
ending. Make no mistake about it, Avalon is in the
lead for my favorite film of the year.
                   Joshua: 4.5

Chopper (2000, Australia)

Entertaining, violent, black comedy/drama about real
life Aussie criminal Mark "Chopper" Reid. Based on
snippets and stories from his best selling
autobiographical crime confessionals, the film shows
Chopper both inside and outside prison, being himself,
the deranged Chopper. The man has a violent psycho
side & we see some of those acts but the most gruesome
scenes involve deeds done to Chopper himself while in
the joint. The worst (or best, considering how you
look at it) has to be the grisliest scene I've ever
seen regarding ear slicing! Resevoir Dogs move over,
Chopper is now at the top. When you see huge strips of
the meaty flesh of earlobes sliced away w/ a straight
razor as blood streams down a man's neck & chest,
well, that's what you have to beat to top Chopper.
Newcomer Eric Bana gives a blistering, charasmatic
performance as Chopper. I read he was a stand up comic
before this role. Now, he's an actor. He was quite
good in Black Hawk Down last year and is playing the
Hulk in Ang Lee's summer blockbuster that is coming
up. Bana put on weight and makes himself look pretty
unappealling for the bulk of the film. Some people are
just naturals on screen and Bana has that charm it
looks like. Directed by Andrew Dominik, I think there
was too little color in the film. It has kind of a
bleached out look to it that I didn't go for. Even
outside of prison, everything is brown and too gray
for me. It doesn't change my opinion of the movie,
just could have used more color, aesthetic nitpicking.
Chopper is fascinatingly dark, violent and
entertaining and offers the emergance of an actor to
watch, Eric Bana.       Joshua: 4

Tell Me Something (2000?, South Korea)

Serial killer genre picture from director Youn-hyun
Chang. Take out the extreme grisly nature of certain
scenes/shots and Tell Me Something is fairly standard.
But boy were there some gorey scenes in this!
Amputated arms and various body parts start showing up
in random parts of Seoul. The problem police have in
determining who the bodies belong to is that none of
the parts match. A leg here, an arm there, a head, a
torso, but none match until enough bodies are
discovered around the city and then put back together.
All the bodies have a connection to a troubled you
woman (played by the fetching Shum Eun-ha, she's one
to watch!). Seems she was involved w/ them all at one
point in the past, now they are all dead and
dismembered. So the cops try to find out who is doing
the killing before the woman and others get hacked to
pieces. Did I mention grisly? Best scene: a group of
people in a crowded elevator. A boy is playing w/ a
shopping cart and spies a black bag in the corner. He
hits the bag and it explodes in a red red flood of
body parts and blood. A screaming woman slips on the
gore and topples face first into the mess. She has
long, thick black hair, the mess gets it wet. She
naturally hysterically loses it w/ a piercing howl.
Everyone does. I will remember this scene for awhile
to come. Something I've noticed about films from South
Korea is the way the heavy rain is filmed. In the past
few years I've seen about 15 films from this country
and it seems every single movie will have a shot of
gigantic drops of rain falling on streets and most
often people in the film. Tell Me Something is a
standard serial killer horror type thriller taken up a
notch because of all the great moments of gore. I love
gore so that is only going to make it better in my
eyes.      Joshua: 3.5

Show Me Love (1999/2000, Sweden)

Show Me Love is the first film from Swedish director
Lukas Moodysson. He made the really good film Together
I saw last year and this film proves he's a filmmaker
to pay close attention to. Set in a small Swedish
town, it tells the story of Agnes, a 16 year old
outcast in the high school hiarchy who develops a
crush on Elin, a popular girl who is bored w/ the
limited thrills of the town they live in. Elin is
confused and rejects, hurts and avoids Agnes but both
teens learn about themselves as they move closer
toward one another. Moodysson really nails the anxious
torment of being a teen, especially for a teen living
outside the "normal" sexuality of a small town
mindset. I could feel the ache and pain of Agnes
through the screen. Teenage anguish was also a
highlight of Together so Moodysson is a man who really
understands how to film/write on the inner turmoil of
teenagers. Show Me Love is chock full of simmering
teenage confusion, frustration, longing, rage and
other volatile emotions and is a very enjoyable,
bittersweet coming of age tale.             Joshua: 4

Genghis Blues (1999, usa)

This is the best documentary I've seen this year,
hands down. It concerns a Bay area bluesman named Paul
Pena, who discovered throatsinging one night while
listening to his shortwave radio. This led him and a
motley crew of Americans to head to Tuva to attend a
throatsinging festival and to tour the small country
(not independent at this time at is located w/in
Russian soil, on the northern side of Mongolia).
Throatsinging is this other worldly sounding technique
that allows a singer to get these deep, odd noises out
of the throat. It sounds cool as all get out. Pena,
nicknamed Earthquake, taught himself how to throatsing
and obviously quite taken w/ the people of Tuva and
their traditions. Pena is blind and this only adds to
the film's winning charms as his blindness while in
Tuva is apart of the whole fabric of the doc. Rarely
does a doc bring tears to my eyes but this one did. It
just makes me feel good to be a human, a good thing as
I've been a little down in the dumps recently. Highly
enjoyable. Joshua: 4

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