Sony Pictures Classics
In Limited Release
Tony Leung Chiu Wai; Li Gong; Takuya Kimura;
Ziyi Zhang; Bai Ling; Carina Lau; Chen Chang;
Wang Sum; Ping Lam Siu;
Maggie Cheung; Thongchai McIntyre; Jie Dong.
Reviewed by Evan Sung
The danger for the fetishist is
that he/she becomes trapped in the cage of their
own endless, reiterative desires. Wong Kar-Wai,
in his deliciously kaleidoscopic film, 2046
teeters perilously on the brink of his own creative
implosion. But like his hero Chow Mo-Wan (a dashing,
brilliantined, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), Wong succeeds
in escaping the pull of his own irretrievable
past. 2046 is a sort-of sequel to his
lavish, langorous In the Mood for Love.
Larger in cast, scope, and story, 2046
is also a haunted film: haunted by the success
of In the Mood for Love and the heavy
absence of Su Lizhen (Maggie Cheung Man Yuk who
reappears here only in cameo), Chow Mo-Wan’s
almost-lover from the first film.
Wong Kar-Wai is the rare contemporary director
who evokes the glory days of International Art
House cinema when the next Bergman or Godard film
was reason for celebration . 2046 has
been long-awaited by fans of WKW, as he’s
known in shorthand, and the notoriously ‘improvisational’
Wong reworked the film up to the very last. Originally
conceived as a science-fiction project completely
separate from In the Mood for Love, Wong
filmed both at the same time, and eventually the
two films seemed to merge for him. The version
of 2046 screened at last year’s
Cannes festival arrived only three hours before
its scheduled premier because of last minute edits.
Wong has reworked it since, and only now does
it exist in something close to definitive version.
As always, Wong’s fetish for nostalgia drives
the narrative with powerful, hyper-romantic force.
In 2046, Chow Mo-Wan returns from Singapore
a changed man, a rakish womanizer with a Clark
Gable, pencil-thin moustache, and twinkling, mischievous
eyes. Looking up an old flame at the Oriental
Hotel, he finds her missing, and tries to take
her room, Room 2046 (the same hotel room number
as the room he shared with Su Lizhen in In
the Mood for Love). The landlord tells him
its unavailable but gives Chow Room 2047 instead.
Still a writer, Chow now writes lurid newspaper
gossip and parties like a man trying hard to escape
his past. Along the way, he shares a fling with
the new neighbor in Room 2046, Bai Ling (Zhang
Ziyi). She’s a fellow libertine on a downward
spiral, and her eventual dissolution is a counterpoint
to the redemption that Chow will find. Gong Li
is a powerful presence as the mysterious black-gloved
gambler known only as the Black Spider. But when
he meets Jingwen, the hotel landlord’s lovelorn
daughter (Hong Kong pop superstar, Faye Wong),
he is inspired to work on a futuristic novel entitled
2047. The novel becomes Chow’s means of
escape, a means of putting the legacy of Hotel
Room 2046 behind him, the haunted past of a lost
love that he cannot forget.
As in In the Mood for Love, wardrobe
and set design are practically characters in their
own right. Wong’s fetish for pattern and
texture rule the day in his idealized version
of Hong Kong circa 1967. And as before, Wong films
his actors with care and attention, every styled,
costume-designed square inch of them. They may
be dying of heartbreak, but at least they’re
dying in style. Lost love is everywhere in 2046,
and longing and regret and heartache permeate
every frame of the film. Labrythine and elusive,
2046 is cinematic opium, hazy and erotic
and a profound pleasure for the senses.
The Dirtiest Joke Ever Told:
Penn Jilette and Paul Provenza’s
Opens July 29, 2005
In this joke there’s the set up:
“Guy walks into an agent’s office…”
And the punch line:
“I call it 'The Aristocrats!'”
Reviewed by Ilise S. Carter
what comes in-between that’s really the
stuff of showbiz legend. More than just a dirty
joke, The Aristocrats is a foul-mouthed
heirloom that’s been handed down from generation-to-generation
of comics, since the days of vaudeville. It’s
also the subject of Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette’s
This secret fraternity
handshake of the comedy world is, in point of
fact, not a particularly funny or original joke.
Nor is it a crowd favorite (actually, it’s
never really supposed to be told on stage). Instead,
the fun lies in ability of the teller to weave
the longest, filthiest, most elaborate yarn his
peers have ever heard. There are, however, no
hard and fast rules on just how to do that either
– the direction of the story is determined
only by the twisted imagination of the raconteur.
Some of the possibilities examined in the documentary
include incest, bestiality, “Hitler in crotch-less
panties,” and a host of other scenarios
that the editorial policy of this publication
prohibits even alluding to.
While the shock
value is great and plentiful, that isn’t
what makes this homespun little film so fun to
watch. It’s the “behind the scenes”
quality that makes it worth sitting through infinite
versions of the very same joke. Shot with handheld
cameras and edited on a Mac, Jillette and Provenza
have given The Aristocrats a home movie
feeling. This atmosphere gives viewers the sense
that they are literally being let in on an inside
joke by bringing the audience into a world that
was previously only accessible to those privileged
enough to sit in on the after-hours sessions that
take place in the backrooms of comedy clubs and
The film includes
interviews with over a hundred professional comics,
writers, magicians, and entertainers, comprising
several generations and a wide range of styles.
Some of the most outrageous versions actually
come from comedians who’ve made their fortune
providing wholesome family entertainment (e.g.,
Bob Sagat even manages a mention of his former
co-stars, the Olsen Twins, in his tale), while
other veterans are surprisingly modest (such as
Phyllis Diller, who insists she actually fainted
from shock the first time she heard the joke.)
In addition, there are reminiscences about legendary
tellings (“…an hour and a half and
then he messed up the punch line!”) and
the most inappropriate times it was told (at a
post-9/11 Friars’ Club Roast of Hugh Hefner)
and other such delightful oddities surrounding
the long and sordid history of The Aristocrats.
Which, in the end, is really the funniest part
of the whole joke.
Release Date: September 23rd
Reviewed by Frank J. Avella
Like the amazing
Junebug, Dorian Blues is a jewel
in the 2005 indie crown. It’s a refreshingly
offbeat, surprisingly original, quirky coming
out story...of sorts...
by Tennyson Bardwell, DB chronicles the
travails of a gay teen living a small New York
town. His sexual orientation realization forces
Dorian (Michael McMillian) to admit his secret
to members of his oddball family, including his
conservative father who throws him out, prompting
his move to New York City. The story unfold as
a series of funny, poignant and honest vignettes.
Dorian Blues is
filled with rich rewarding performances beginning
with McMillian as the tortured title character.
Lea Coco, in particular, is an absolute find as
Dorian’s protective brother Nicky. Coco
can be compellingly comedic yet intensely dramatic
in the same moment.
The script may
be a bit too precious at times, but it is filled
with wonderful, magical moments including a hilarious
scene where Nicky takes his brother to see a female
stripper so he can lose his virginity. The way
Dorian ends up bonding with her is priceless.
The stripper is played by the gifted, scene-stealing
Ryan Kelly (who recently graced the off-Broadway
stage in Joy).
This truly charming
gem needs to find an audience. It would be a shame
if it got lost in the all-too-predictable-coming-out-queer-flick
clutter when it’s so much more!
Opens August 12th
Tagline: They came
home to bury mom... and her killer.
Mark Wahlberg; Tyrese; Angel Mercer; André
3000; Garrett Hedlund; Terrence Dashon Howard;
Josh Charles; Sofía Vergara; Fionnula Flanagan;
Chiwetel Ejiofor; Taraji P. Henson; Barry Shabaka
Henley; Jernard Burks; Kenneth Welsh; Tony Nappo;
Reviewed by Caroline Smith
Tough. Just what you’d
expect from a Wahlberg. Despite broken bodies,
broken hearts, and broken trust, this film’s
plot surprisingly held up. Instead, the gunshots
mocked my low expectations and I couldn’t
help but drown myself in the brotherly love.
Director John Singleton
(Boyz N the Hood, 2 Fast 2 Furious)
did little in developing the chemistry between
his four men: Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre
Benjamin, and Garrett Hedlund. He threw them on
the ice rink and just said, “Play hockey.”
The bond formed naturally. Beneath their tough
exteriors, their loyalty was unbreakable.
The adopted sons
reunite because their ‘angel of a mother’,
Evelyn Mercer, (Fionnula Flanagan) is murdered
in a convenience store. They rush home to Detroit
and… well, you’d think you knew the
rest. O.K. you’re almost right, with the
exception of a few potholes. As it’s no
surprise, the boys get involved with their mother’s
killer but quickly realize that the world of crime
has changed drastically since their days of delinquency.
the ringleader, has the role down sharp, like
his greasy, slicked locks. His constant badgering
of Jack, (Hedlund) the youngest Mercer, will put
a smile on your face. In fact, the laughs are
as plentiful as the gunshots in this movie. Even
the smaller roles like Sofi, Angel’s (Gibson)
insane “la vida loca” girlfriend,
and the mink-coated mafia man, Victor Sweet, give
this film a little extra than let’s just
say the normal serving of blood, guts, and violence.
However, in the
midst of the notorious Singleton car chasings
and shootings, I had to ask myself if I really
believed that “the town’s sweetest
lady, Evelyn Mercer,” would have been proud
of her sons. After all, she adopted these delinquents
with the ‘Mother Theresa’ hope of
turning them around. But boys will be boys. They
avenge Mom’s death, whether she likes it
early maudlin scenes so that the violence is justifiable
in the end. In other words, the boys grieve first
so they can kill later. Yes, this film skates
on some pretty predictable ice but there are just
enough nicks there to keep it from seeming too
contrived. And no, Outkast’s Andre “3000”
Benjamin does not break out in a rumble scene
singing, “Shake it like a Polaroid picture.”
Though I do think he’s better off doing
that than the film thing.
see this one. It’s a lot of fun.
The Constant Gardener
Opening August 31, 2005
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston,
Reviewed by Frank
The trailer for
The Constant Gardener filled me with
fear. John le Carre’ is an amazing writer,
but when was the last time one of his novel’s
was adapted into a great film? (I am personally
partial to The Little Drummer Girl) This
particular trailer was filled with the visual
cross-cutting cacophony we’ve learned to
expect from the annoying summer action-flick.
Had Ralph Fiennes sold out? Did Fernando Meirelles
‘go Hollywood’? Didn’t The Mummy
Part 13 teach Rachel Weisz anything?
I breathed a tremendous
sign of relief as the first few frames of The
Constant Gardener flickered and by the time
the credits rolled, I was blown away by how against-the-typical-Hollywood-grain-great
this film actually was.
The gifted Fernando
Meirelles (City of God), along with crackerjack
screenwriter Jeffrey Caine and their fantastic
cast and crew have completely reinvented the summer
action-thriller mostly by giving it a healthy
dose of two things it hasn’t contained since
the seventies: realism and intelligence. Imagine
a smart film that provides action and suspense.
Now imagine that film is actually about something...
something important. And imagine the scares coming
from the realities of the unjust world we live
in. That’s right-- no comic book villains,
no overblown effects, no gimmicky twist ending
and no one in tights!
Set (and exquisitely
shot) in Northern Kenya, The Constant Gardener
unfolds after the brutal murder of Tessa Quayle
(Weisz), wife of British diplomat Justin Quayle
(Fiennes). The death is made to look like a crime
of passion and the usually indifferent Justin
begins stumbling upon evidence to the contrary.
So begins his startling and terrifying journey
as he discovers taboo truths about the pharmaceutical
industry in Africa and the British High Commission’s
involvement. Along the the road to his dangerous
enlightenment, he also finds out more about his
wife than he ever knew when she was alive.
At the heart of
The Constant Gardener is the most refreshingly
unconventional love story since Lost in Translation.
Through flashbacks, we gain keen insight into
the lives of Justin and Tessa. Their meeting and
subsequent marriage is one of physical attraction-meets-convenience.
It isn’t until after Tessa’s murder
that Justin falls deeply in love with her.
in a remarkably brave, daring and painfully romantic
performance, proves he’s the leading man
for the new millennium. This is a richly nuanced
turn that may deservedly bring him his third Academy
Rachel Weisz emblazes
the screen with Tessa, brilliantly conveying the
woman’s passions --political and otherwise,
yet enabling the audience to glimpse her gentler
side as well.
There are stellar
supporting performances by Danny Huston &
Pete Postlethwaite as well as a brief but dynamic
turn by the ubiquitous Bill Nighy who has film’s
One of the unsung
stars of The Constant Gardner is Kenya.
Thanks to Meirelles and his production team the
audience spends a few hours in an astonishingly
beautiful country that the west seems to have
abandoned to famine and disease.
Never a polemic,
the film does voice a very urgent message about
the power the pharmaceutical industry has over
most of the world. It’s a terrifying reality
we should all be aware of. Kudos to Mereilles
for bringing home the message with such diligence
and artistry and simultaneously crafting a riveting,
genre-blasting piece of cinema.
The perfect summer
movie is finally here!
Lutz Hachmeister & Michael
THE Goebbels Experiment
Opens August 12, 2005
Reviewed by Frank
No one person living
in the 20th Century mastered and manipulated propaganda
for the most evil of purposes with the greatest
of success than Joseph Goebbels.
One of Hitler’s
inner circle flunkies, Goebbels devoted his life
to showing the world the power of the Nazi party.
Yet, out of the spotlight, Goebbels led a complex,
manic-depressive inner life.
figure is explored in The Goebbels Experiment,
a gripping new documentary by Lutz Hachmeister
& Michael Kloft. The film probes personal
passages from a diary Goebbels kept from 1924
until right before his death in the bunker in
1945 and features rare newsreel footage and film
clips from the period. All this material makes
for a frightening, fascinating portrait.
Movies that probe
the mind of a psycho are always interesting, like
that train wreck you MUST stop and study. But
here we also get a depiction of a people on the
cusp of facilitating one of the worst atrocities
mankind has ever known. And Goebbels himself seems
aware of his own growing place in history.
Poor, young, suicidal
Goebbels apparently felt “lost in the universe”
and quite paranoid about everything and everyone
around him. This anxiety would follow him throughout
his life, although the public Goebbels appeared
confident and assured. As he excelled in his position
Goebbels arrogantly discussed his detractors by
proudly proclaiming: “we frighten them.”
The war years propelled Goebbels’ propaganda
machine to it’s most horrifying zenith,
but his grisly fate (and that of his family) proved
One of the more
unusual aspects of Goebbels personality explored
is his fascination with films. He felt that what
Germany lacked and desperately needed was talented
Aryan actors the world would embrace.
In one of the many
examples of his duplicitous personality, the film
shows images of him happily shmoozing Leni Riefenstahl
while the voice-over diary entry exclaims, “There
is no way I can work with a lunatic like her.”
by Kenneth Branagh, The Goebbels Experiment
is an intriguing and chilling historical study
as well as a timely warning about the terrifying
place a controlled media can lead a needy and
Quad Cinema 34 West 13th
Photo Giles Keyte
Opens September 9, 2005
Reviewed by Evan
Sung at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival
From Hobbits to Hooligans,
Elijah Wood finds himself a new fellowship in
the sometimes brutal, consistently fascinating
first time feature by director Lexi Alexander.
Hooligans premiered in the US at Austin’s
SXSW festival, where it garnered the award for
Best Narrative Feature, and now makes an encore
appearance at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival.
Set in the tightly-knit milieu of impassioned
and just as tightly-wound loyal followers of local
soccer…ahem…football teams in England
known as Hooligans, the film gives viewers
a largely honest insight into the conflicted psychology
and the destructive effects of such tightly bound,
Elijah Wood plays
Matt Buckley, a gifted, bookish Harvard journalism
student wrongly expelled two months before graduation.
When the cocaine belonging to his roommate, the
wealthy and smug son of a Senator, is found in
Matt’s affairs, Matt buckles under the pressure
and political influence of his roommate and takes
the fall. Matt leaves Harvard for London, to seek
refuge with his sister Shannon (Claire Forlani)
and her husband Steve and reevaluate his future.
Almost immediately, Matt falls in with Steve’s
younger brother Pete, the fast-talking alpha dog
of the Green Street Elite, one of West Ham United
Football’s toughest firms. Just before Pete
introduces Matt to the rest of his pals, he warns
Matt that “firms” – the name
for these organized hooligan gangs – hate
two things above all, Americans and journalists.
Matt passes himself off as a history student,
but in spite of his Yank roots, finds an easy
acceptance among the other GSE. Only Bovver, Pete’s
right hand in the GSE (played with inscrutable
scuzziness by Leo Gregory), finds Matt’s
presence in the group an intolerable offense.
As Matt becomes closer to Pete and his band of
merry, violent hooligans, he learns about fraternity,
sticking up for one’s self and one’s
friends, and its spiraling, escalating consequences.
the film subtly, striking just the right chord
of dread, of impending cataclysm. In an empty
tube station, a lone passenger waits for the next
train when a gently crescendoing chorus of voices
floats up from the vacant stairwell. The rising
voices are enough to suggest a carousing band
of drunken boors, and it’s not a far leap
to imagine ourselves as that lone passenger trapped
on that tube platform along with them. Our thoughts
spin out the worst of possibilities. Where Hooligans
is most successful is in playing with our preconceptions
of the world of hooligans, at times challenging
them, at other times showing us that we haven’t
even begun to imagine the reality.
Elijah Wood seems, at first, an incongruous choice
for a hardened hooligan, with his delicate, sometimes
feminine demeanor. And when Pete decides suddenly
that instead of beating the living shit out of
Matt he’ll take him under his wing, its
hard not to guffaw at the implausibility. But
to Wood’s credit, the disbelief lasts only
a moment, and when Matt takes his first real punch
to the face, his beatific smile of release and
liberation is funny and credible.
Yes, there are
moments that don’t ring quite true. Why,
for example, does Pete have perfect teeth? (English
AND a hooligan? By all rights, he shouldn’t
have any at all.) And the story of Matt and Shannon’s
emotionally absent father seems clichéd.
But the quasi-documentary realism with which hooliganism
is treated makes up for these minor infractions.
And Charlie Hunnam’s fireball performance
as Pete is both engaging and tragic, and truly
takes us into the emotional world of these men.
Alexander also skillfully manages to involve the
viewer while never sanctioning or sensationalizing
the violence depicted. The film, ultimately, is
thought-provoking, magnetic and repelling, in
its sympathetic authenticity.
Hooligans will be released in the UK
and Europe in August. At press time, the film
was still searching for its US distributor, but
judging from the critical and audience response
both at Tribeca and SXSW, it won’t be long
before the hooligans are invading your local cinema.
Hustle & Flow
Opens July 22nd., 2005
Reviewed by Wendy R. Williams
Trolling for johns
on the backstreets of Memphis, DJay (Terrence
Howard) is the king of his small world. With a
silver tongue to match the spinning chrome wheels
of his "hooptie" (his beat-up old ride),
DJay cajoles his girls--his whore Nola (played
by Taryn Manning); his whore-on-maternity-leave
Shug (played by Taraji P. Henson); his "dancer"
Lexus (played by Paula Jai Parker) - and he corrals
their tricks (who are nameless, but then, aren't
they always?). But this pimp wants more and somewhere
deep inside him, he knows there is more and that
there is something inside him that needs to come
And then one day
there is a little serendipity. A crazed old man
sells DJay a child’s keyboard in exchange
for a bit of marijuana (DJay’s side business)
and he runs into an old school friend, Key (played
by Anthony Anderson). Key has a middle- class
life, complete with his middle-class wife, Yvette
(played by Elise Neal). Key also has a middle-class
business, producing music for churches. But Key
has a dream, too; he always wanted to be more.
But as he tells DJay, there are two kinds of guys
- the ones who talk the talk and the ones who
walk the walk. And according to Key, DJay is a
talker and he, Key, is a walker.
I used to live
in Memphis and I can’t talk about this story
without talking about how hot it is in the summer
(this movie is set in June). Memphis also has
an incredibly poor and uneducated black underclass.
I moved to Memphis from Dallas in 1979 and it
was like moving back thirty years in time in terms
of race relations (Dallas was no paragon of racial
harmony back then, either), and my friends tell
me things have not changed much since then. Memphis
is the true Old South with its symbolic big foot
stomping down on guys like DJay. Plus, like I
said, it is incredibly hot. And this mix of heat
and poverty that gave birth to the blues has now
“birthed” another form of music -
Crank, Memphis-born Southern hip hop.
And Crank is what DJay wants. He knows he has
something inside him that just has to get out,
but he has no clue as to how he can make it happen.
He supposedly knew Skinny Black (played by Ludacris),
a wildly successful Memphis-born rapper, who has
gone on to a Hollywood style of fame. Skinny is
coming back to Memphis on the Fourth of July to
have a party at a bar owned by Arnell (Isaac Hayes).
DJay has an “in” with Arnel and he
collars the job of supplying Skinny’s weed.
DJay then uses his “connection” with
Skinny and his silver tongue to hustle Key into
helping him produce a track to harness DJay’s
hustle into flow (his rap).
So, the race is
on. Key comes to DJay’s house (a beat up
old “shotgun” in the worse part of
town) and with the help of borrowed and improvised
equipment (stapled egg cartons on the walls for
insulation), they get started. They are soon joined
by the incredibly charismatic Shelby (played by
DJ Qualls), who makes his living playing for churches,
but who also knows a few things about putting
down a track.
Flow is a great story, told by great characters,
and it has the one vital element that all great
stories share - redemption. And it is so very
real. I left the theater feeling like I knew those
guys and their girls (this story is definitely
not politically correct), and why they were the
way they were. And I got a glimpse of the thing
that was inside all of them that just had to come
out. The plot itself has Shakespearean overtones
– there is so much at stake and such a small
window of escape from this Memphis world of sizzling
heat and crushing poverty. And there wasn’t
a bad actor in this film. They all shone.
Craig Brewer, the
writer and director, is a master storyteller and
producer John Singleton is to be commended for
having the genius to recognize Brewer's talent
and for putting up his own money (according to
the press release) to produce this movie. And
kudos to co-producer Stephanie Allain, who had
the vision to shepherd this story through the
many years it took to get it made.
Hustle and Flow was the closing night
film at the 2005 Urbanworld Film Festival.
Erik Van Looy's
The Memory Of A Killer
In Flemish and French with English subtitles.
Jan Decleir; Koen De Bouw; Werner De Smedt.
Reviewed by Christina M. Hinke
In the Belgium film, The Memory of a Killer,
the lead character has a problem. Angelo Ledda
(Jan Decleir) is a hired assassin who forgets
who he’s knocked-off, who is on his hit
list and even what his room number is. The sixty-something
year old suffers Alzheimer’s disease and
writes numbers, names and tasks on his forearm.
Though the memory loss angle may be evocative
of Christopher Nolan’s Memento,
it works well to create sympathy for the hired
hit man. The story transports the viewer inside
Ledda’s mind, feeling his torment as his
memory fades. But what really keeps the audience
glued to their seats is Erik Van Looy’s
directorial approach. He uses jumpy camera techniques
to create pulse-quickening effects during the
fast moving action scenes, but then he slows down
the action to a cool pace, letting the story evolve
into a stylish crime thriller.
Adapted for the screen from a detective novel
by Jef Geeraerts, the story begins in 1995 Belgium
when detectives Vincke (Koen De Bouw) and Verstuyft
(Werner De Smedt) of the Antwerp police department
investigate a series of murders in which all fingers
point to a political big wig. Assassin Angelo
Ledda breaks his contract when he discovers that
one of his targets is a twelve-year old girl.
Ledda then decides to leak clues to the cops about
the web of people behind the shootings (just in
case he forgets the facts himself), but he also
stays two steps ahead of the law and kills off
each perpetrator - one by one.
The lead actors are all well-known, good-looking
European film stars. De Bouw’s dark and
moody portrayal of Vincke is dead-on. The curly
redhead De Smedt adds a much needed touch of humor
to the otherwise serious action thriller. Decleir
is captivating as Ledda; his demeanor can flip
instantly from gentlemanly to that of a deadly
killer, showing a brute strength that is both
shocking and exciting. That Ledda is losing his
memory makes this character even more compelling.
His ultra-hip sunglasses complete his cool-killer
persona. I would like to see a Decleir-Tarantino
collaboration as Decleir also has the ability
to bring to life the twisted and complex characters
that are a Tarantino standard.
In scenes when Ledda’s memory flickers,
the screen flashes with brightly colored images
of past or present (I’m not sure which)
making it difficult to comprehend what is actually
going on. I suppose it is to let the audience
know that his Alzheimer’s symptoms are kicking
Otherwise, this action suspense thriller is a
“must see” for all you thrill seekers
out there. The Memory Of A Killer won
five Belgian Oscars and it could certainly find
acclaim in the eyes of American viewers with its
Hollywood-style fast-moving action and superb
Sony Pictures Classics. R. 120 minutes. Rated
One Bright Shining Moment:
The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern
Opened September 16, 2005
Reviewed by Wendy R. Williams
has created a true “blast from the past”
in his documentary film about Senator George McGovern,
the 1972 Democratic nominee for President. Yes,
Senator McGovern, the candidate who captured the
hearts and minds of young America and then went
on to be defeated by Richard Nixon of Watergate
The film asks the
question, “What would America be like today
if McGovern had won?” Well, we certainly
would have never had to live through Watergate
but would have been sent off on such a different
Y in the road that we would not today be embroiled
The film covers
McGovern’s campaign but it also covers the
history of the war in Vietnam and the radicalization
of the public in response to that senseless loss
of life. It is all there: the music; the film
footage from the war and the conventions; Gloria
Steinem; Dick Gregory; Gore Vidal; Gloria Steinem;
Warren Beatty; and Howard Zinn. It is a must see
for anyone who believes that the political process
can make a change for the better and for all students
of history. The film is narrated by Democracy
Now! host Amy Goodman.
and be sure to read my
interview with Senator McGovern in the September
2005 issue of www.newyorkcool.com.
Quad Cinema 34 West 13th
Street NY, NY www.quadcinema.com
Opens September 16, 2005
Sony Lincoln Square
City Cinemas 1,2,3
Loews 19th Street East
The Angelika Film Center
Paltrow; Anthony Hopkins; Jake Gyllenhaal; Hope
Davis; Gary Houston; Anne Wittman; Daniel Hatkoff;
John Keefe; Colin Stinton; Leigh Zimmerman.
Reviewed by Adam
Of genius and madness,
there is said to be only a fine line of separation,
and this is a main theme explored in Proof
opening nationwide September 16th, 2005.
Based on David
Auburn's play of the same name, Proof is
the story of Catherine (moodily portrayed by Gwyneth
Paltrow), daughter to noted mathematician Robert
(a blustery Anthony Hopkins) whose great achievements,
though long past, are legendary to paste-eaters
In the waning years
of his life, Robert desperately wants one final,
sterling achievement, a proof. That is to say,
he labors to cobble together a mathematical formula,
the verity of which has been demonstrated to be
accurate. Robert wrote several monumental proofs
before he was twenty-three, the threshold at which
a phantom curtain imposes its will, marking the
decline of a person's creative productivity. To
accomplish the impossible, Robert needs a coherence
and sanity that have long eluded him.
Indeed, from the
moment we meet him, you just know that Robert
is a graphomaniacal schizophrenic. The Lucasian
Chair rests safely.
For five years
past, Catherine put life on hold to care for her
ailing father, who each day slipped further into
the abyss of mental impairment despite promising
moments of lucidity. When he is gone, we reflect
on and are awash in familial interludes from that
time together. This allows you to share in the
disorientation of the characters in a style reminiscent
of the genre heavyweight, Memento.
As Catherine celebrates
her twenty-seventh birthday, she is torn apart
by grief for her father, anger over alone having
watched him deteriorate and fear for what she
may have inherited; his condition. But which part?
Genius or madness? Or are the two so intertwined
as to be indistinguishable?
are the arrival of Claire (Hope Davis), Catherine's
list-writing super-efficient sibling who takes
a business approach to all of life's details from
shampoo ingredients to slow painful deaths. There
is also Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal), a promising former
student of their father. Hal has rigorously devoted
himself to dual objectives; searching through
mountains of Robert's notebooks in search of one
lost proof, and romancing a vulnerable Catherine,
for whom he has long held a torch. Alas, which
is his true motivation?
There are some
contortions along the way which invigorate the
storyline in unexpected ways. Clever scene progression
leaves mysteries to linger, though you will be
in a constant state of arranging puzzle pieces.
Despite the shroud,
Proof examines some genuinely thought-provoking
ideas all the while anchored by a precision-timing
devotion to the Kubler-Ross grief cycle. Hints
of theatricality bleed through in aloof and demonstrative
performances, a dendritic echo of the film's origin.
Catherine advises Hal, "It's not about big
ideas. It's work. You have to chip away."
Agreed. Sometimes though, instead of a chisel,
you're wistful for a jack hammer.
Spanish with English Subtitles
Opens August 5, 2005
Reviewed by Wendy R.
Starring: Mía Maestro;
Carlos Julia Molena; Rubén Blades; Pedro
Perez; Carlos Madera; Jean Paul Leroux.
“Get in the car or I’ll
blow your fucking head off!“ These words
symbolize the terror that is faced every day
by the rich of Latin America. Their lives are
permeated with the gut-wrenching fear that just
around any corner will be a gang of predators,
drug-crazed thugs who will 'jack them and try
to turn them into their next "paycheck."
Here is a quote from the press
release of Miramax’s Secuestro Express:
“Every sixty minutes a person is abducted
in Latin America. 70% of the victims do not
survive. Secuestro Express is the frightening
story of one young couple's ordeal as they careen
through the underbelly of Caracas, Venezuela
in the hands of three thugs who've made them
their latest payday.
"Carla (Maestro) and
Martin (Leroux) are a young upper-class couple
fresh off of a night of dancing and partying
when they cross paths with Trece (Molina), Budu
(Perez) and Niga (Madera), three men who make
their living by kidnapping unwitting young adults
to extort quick money from their wealthy parents.
"Carla and Martin become
their next victims and are sent on a terrifying
overnight journey through Caracas as they wait
for Carla's father Sergio (Blades) to hand over
twenty thousand dollars - a small amount for
a rich Caraqueno, but the equivalent of almost
five years of the Venezuelan minimum wage.”
Secuestro was filmed
with hand-held video cameras and the jerky reality
of video gives the movie a documentary feel,
adding to the unrelenting terror of the scenes.
Video brings an immediacy to a movie, allowing
each scene to escalate to hysterical levels.
The audience is totally there with the characters
- taking every harrowing breath together as
And the actors are completely
believable, every one of them. I felt the panic
of Carla (Mía Maestro) and Martin (Jean
Paul Leroux) as they were confronted with such
monstrous thugs as Trece (Carlos Molina), Budu
(Pedro Perez) and Niga (Carlos Madera). It must
be truly horrific to live in such a place and
to know there is no one to help you - that you're
held helpless in a country where even the police
are in on the kidnapping game.
rises to new heights of in-your-face gory violence.
So, if you ever wanted to know exactly what
it feels like to ride the world’s highest
roller coaster or be kidnapped by a group of
drug-crazed thugs, this is the film for you
- a chance to enjoy the thrill of being utterly
terrorized from the comfort of a multiplex movie
is rated R (for strong violence, drug use, sexuality
Official Website: Miramax.com/SecuestroExpress
The night I saw the movie,
the Venezuelan author/director, Jonathan Jakubowicz,
was there for Q & A. He spoke to us about
how happy he was to have been able to create
a Venezuelan movie that is going to have such
huge international distribution. Then he told
us he had made the movie with a social purpose
in mind and that this goal was to portray the
rich and poor of Venezuela, to show how the
other side lives and thinks. He also said he
felt the people of Venezuela needed to come
together and solve their own problems through
social change - and that Latin American governments
have never been able to solve anything and he
was very pleased to be a “catalyst”
for this change. Oh!
These were very lofty ambitions
for this film, but was I surprised to hear them
from this director. Before Jakubowicz spoke,
I had been saying to myself, “Wow, this
movie is going to make a shit-load of money.
It is the most politically incorrect film I
have ever seen - Scarface pales in
comparison.” And, “Hmm, I wonder
if the ‘good’ thugs in Venezuela
are going to picket the movie, outraged at the
way they were portrayed?”
But after he spoke, I had
another thought: Things must be really bad in
Venezuela for the filmmakers to be so inured
to the overwhelming effect of the violence in
this film. And sure enough, Jakubowicz, the
writer/director, had once been kidnapped himself
- and he just mentioned this in passing, as
if it were a trivial, everyday matter. So, I
guess Jakubowicz is right. The people of Venezuela
definitely do need to talk, and talk
a lot - and perhaps we do too.
Raymond De Felitta's
The Thing About My Folks
Opens September 16, 2005
Starring: Paul Reise;
Peter Falk; Elizabeth Perkins; and Olympia
Reviewed by Armistead Johnson
No one has invented the word
for the male equivalent of the “chic-flick.”
I’m not talking about the guy’s
guy’s movies where crap is blown up and
women run around helplessly looking for their
clothes the entire movie…I’m talking
about the sort of movie that deals with issues
of manhood as it relates to being a son, father
and husband. Such are the issues presented in
The Thing About My Folks, written by
and staring Paul Reiser (Diner; televisions
Mad About You.)
As Ben and Rachel Kleinman
(Reiser and Elizabeth Perkins) are getting their
daughters ready for bed, Ben’s father
Sam (Peter Falk) pays an unexpected, solo visit
to their Manhattan apartment. It turns out that
Sam’s wife Muriel (Olympia Dukakis) has
left him after 47 years of marriage, leaving
him at his son’s doorstep looking for
answers. The next day, Ben and Sam drive to
look at a house in upstate New York, where Ben
is thinking of relocating his family. But what
begins as a trip to look at real estate soon
becomes a very different kind of journey.
The Thing About My Folks
is primarily a road trip movie, with Sam and
Ben driving for days, stopping frequently for
fishing, drinking, a local ballgame…all
of the “things” fathers and son’s
are “supposed” to do together. In
the process, Ben discovers that as embarrassing
and infuriating as his father may be, he has
a lot more in common than he realizes, and that
he has the unique opportunity to learn from
his fathers mistakes and examine his own life
as a husband, father and son.
While Reiser’s outstanding
script is full of his characteristic humor,
the consistent laughs are simply an extra bonus
in a mostly touching, somewhat sentimental film.
And while Reiser’s performance looks vaguely
familiar to his other work, the film belongs
to Peter Faulk whose performance is an outstanding
mix of stubborn invincibility and childlike
vulnerability that will keep you hanging on
his every word. The opening shot of Peter Faulk
stepping out of the shower in slow motion and
proudly dousing his entire body in baby powder
is worth the ticket price alone.
I just hope that their marketing
directors have made sure that this film will
be available for purchase by Father’s
Day of next year. If not…someone needs
to join Mike Brown for an extended vacation.
The Thing About
My Folks is a Picturehouse production,a
Time Warner Company.