by Elizabeth DeCoursey
Heady and mesmerizing, Vincent
Gallo's film, Brown Bunny, takes the typical road
movie out of the thrill or feel-good self-discovery
genres and into an exploration of guilt and self-loathing.
As the writer, director, editor and star, Gallo
manipulates the mood of the film from start to finish.
However, those seeking a film equally as irreverent
and sexy as the infamous LA billboard removed for
indecency will be left wanting. Chloe Sevigny's
meaty appearance is withheld until the final minutes
of the film, where she serves to justify and explain
the entirety of the previous hour and a half.
Brown Bunny unabashedly opens with hand-held tracking
shots of a motorcycle race unraveling. Immediately,
the audience is subject to Gallo's omnipresent force.
He both removes and reinstates sound liberally as
the camera races along with one rider whipping the
background into a frenzied blur. The cadence of
sentiment governing the lurching rhythm and sound
of this opening sequence sets the atmosphere for
the remainder of Gallo's film. Refreshingly, the
numb silence established on the corners of the racetrack
is re-used effectively on the road as the feature
In contrast to the film's buzzing inception, the
camera is never as dynamic in the body of the film
as it is in the opening five minutes. Instead, it
is a stable recorder of Gallo's profile as he endures
all the stages of his crippling grief, or it remains
trained out the bug-splattered windshield on the
road ahead. Gallo's dazed countenance shifts between
racking tears and desperation as he encounters a
series of haggard women named after flowers in his
escapist quest. Each one burned by life, but nevertheless
retaining enough humanity to offer Bud Clay (Gallo)
a stranger's consolation before he breaks down entirely.
They are certainly the petals to Gallo's bud.
The body of Brown Bunny is a relentless drive through
America that never really settles for more than
a few minutes. The countless laps made in that opening
race simply straighten out and set the course for
the rest of the film to follow. A few pit stops
along the way and the audience finally gets the
reveal in a hotel room at the finish line. The last
minutes of the film are so intense and jarring that
they will certainly make you hate Bud Clay, if not
the filmmaker himself.
INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS
OPENS: Sept 17
Sunshine Landmark Theater
and Chomps on the Loch!
Werner Herzog; Zak Penn; Jeff Goldblum
Reviewed by Troy Tolley
In the wake of so many "reality
TV shows" (thank you, MTV!) and "fake
documentaries" (thank you, Blaire Witch!),
why would someone set out to make yet another of
these to toss into the mix? Because now it is time
to start making fun of the genre!
INCIDENT does just that, but with
such subtle elegance, you may miss the intent altogether.
INCIDENT doesn't even try to ask you to take it
seriously, nor does it overtly take a comic stance,
but it does kindly trust in the intelligence of
the viewer to enjoy the fine line that IS the blur
between reality and fiction.
Word was put out on the street
and across the internet some time ago that renowned
documentarian, Werner Herzog (Aguirre: The Wrath
of God; My Best Fiend: Klaus Kinski; Wheel of Time),
was setting out to investigate the mysteries of
Loch Ness under the title, ENIGMA OF LOCH NESS.
The intent of the documentary would be to explore
the importance of the monster myth to the locals
and to the human psyche, more than it was an intention
to find "Nessie". Herzog would be teaming
up with Zak Penn, a big shot Hollywood writer/producer
(X-Men2; Behind Enemy Lines; Suspect Zero) to explore
this subject. Why these two would suddenly team
up is as big a mystery as what may lie beneath the
infamous Loch, leading to a build of tension among
the crew and between the filmmakers that is only
eclipsed by the shadow of the monster, itself.
While Herzog worked with Penn
to film ENIGMA, a second team of documentarians
would be filming the process. Needless to say, ENIGMA
is never completed, and INCIDENT is the result of
that tragic/comic failure, captured by the secondary
team of filmmakers. What unfolds is an endearingly
tense and anxiously funny ride across the misty
waters of Loch Ness.
Big Hollywood Bad Boy plus
Serious Documentarian mixed with a Bumbling and
Begrudging Crew, all floating helplessly on the
dark waters of Loch Ness with a monster not only
on your heels, but beating the hell out of your
ill-equipped boat, equals a playfully precarious
ride that will leave you chuckling more than it
will leave you chilled.
is rated PG-13 and will open Sept 17 at the Sunshine
Landmark Theater - 143 East Houston Street on the
Lower East Side (212) 330-8182 - 94 minutes. "Incident"
is Zak Penn's directorial debut and is produced
by Zak Penn and Werner Herzog.
Theater | 143 East Houston
Persons of Interest
Opens Friday September 3rd
Reviewed by Wendy R.
"First they came
for the Communists, but I was not a Communist
so I did not speak out. Then they came for the
Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was
neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came
for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not
speak out. And when they came for me, there was
no one left to speak out for me." Martin
I am from Texas,
the same state as our First Cowboy, George W. Bush.
When I was in high school I attended a lecture
at Southern Methodist University and heard Martin
Niemoller. Niemoller was imprisoned by Hitler and
spent eight years in prison, some of it at Dauchau.
From then on, whenever he spoke he would always
end with the above quote...."There was no
one left to speak out for me." I really was
not supposed to be there that night, we were in
Dallas on a vacation and my parents heard he was
speaking and wanted to attend. But like many accidental
happenings, it had a profound affect on how I view
About a week ago,
I went to see "Persons of Interest",
a documentary about twelve Arabs (of the over five
thousand arrested after 9/11), who were snatched
off the streets of this our United States and held
incommunicado, with no right to counsel, for up
to twelve months. Each speaker, or group of speakers,
was filmed in a bare room, furnished only with
a bench, there they answered question from an unseen
narrator. Each story was poignant, from the executive
who was jailed because his son had a flight simulator
and he had a used ticket to the World Trade Center
observation deck, to the mother of three extremely
rambunctious boys who was at her wits end trying
to raise them without a father (her husband was
Yes, we were attacked
by Arabs, but we were attacked by specific Arabs
with the intention to do us in, not the guys at
the corner deli. Listening to the stories of these
twelve men, it was impossible to not believe that
most all of them had no ties to terrorists. Even
the most cynical among us would have to admit that
if they were terrorists, neither they not their
families would have been willing to participate
in a documentary about their experiences.
I was left with the horrible suspicion that our
posse-in-power in Washington just decided it was
time to haul in some "Injuns," and instructed
their minions to grab the first Arabs they saw (the
guys at the corner deli?), on the off chance that
they might know "something." Many of the
detainees spoke of how they had come to America
because they believed America was the land of the
free, with opportunity for all, and how horribly
delusioned they were to find out that they could
be denied basic civil rights with hardly any outcry.
The one adjective that came to mind to describe
them is hurt, hurt because it happened and hurt
because the rest of us did little to help. They
all seemed bewildered, why couldn't people just
see them and realize that they were just like us?
But it did happen to "them" and it is
continuing to happen to "them" and (to
paraphrase Martin Niemoller), if we don't speak
out now, in the end there may be no one left to
speak out for us, and then we too may become "them."
Interest" was produced by Lawrence Konner
and directed by Alison Maclean and Tobiase Perse.
It is being presented by the Documentary Campaign
and screens with "Through the Wire" (a
fascinating documentary about Australian protestors
storming a detention center)and "Getting Through
to the President" (a very funny documentary
about New Yorkers using a payphone to call the
White House comment line). "Persons" is
coming exclusively to Cinema Village during the
Republican National Convention.
& Marshall Reese: Lineup: The Unofficial Portraits
Larry Litt: Before You Don't Vote. . .
Advice to the Angry, Apathetic, and
Reviewed by: Stephanie Alberico
I have never really been
interested in or participated in politics. I
just kind of ignored them and left the voting to
my elders, not unlike many
people my age. However, after attending this screening
I have now
registered to vote for the upcoming election.
The first video was presented by Nora Ligorano &
Marshall Reese and
explored the nature of politics and the public's
distrust with government
officials. This video consisted of "mug shots,"
of President George W. Bush
and his cabinet. These "mug shots," were
digitally manipulated from old
master paintings of these government officials featuring
a frontal and
profile picture of each of them. This portraiture
also included audio
clips quoted from each person and sound effects
of closing jail bars. All
of the images and sound bites were downloaded from
According to the press release, the mug shot has
become the preeminent
form of portraiture in America today, because more
people are incarcerated
in the US than any other country. From beginning
to end, the video features
President Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza
Rice, Colin Powell,
John Ashcroft, Richard Perle, Karen Hughes, and
Paul Wolfowitz. The
combination of sound and imagery was eerie and thought-provoking.
The video took a stand on the betrayal of the public's
trust and took a
negative and biased outlook on Bush and his administration.
It opens the
viewer's eyes to misleading information and how
much of this government
information is misconstrued. Should we trust the
government? Probably not.
Should they be behind bars? Maybe. But, that's an
issue for each voter
to decide for themselves.
The second installment
of the exhibit was created by Larry Litt. It
consisted of the opinions and perspectives of different
people on the topic
of voting. These people covered almost every demographic
with people from
every race and every age-group. It basically encouraged
voting in the youth
of our nation, because adults 18-25 are the least
likely to vote.
According to the film summary, people who talk about
politics and discuss
them are more likely to vote and participate. The
video took a humorous
approach to politics and put an upbeat spin on topics
which most youth might
find boring. It was a simplistic, open-ended question
everyday people and their thoughts on the president,
democracy, and even money. The video aims to raise
consciousness and debate
during time of political crisis.
These two films are in conjunction with the Imagine
Festival and are being
presented by The Kitchen Art Gallery (www.thekitchen.org)
through September 3. However, Larry Litt's documentary
will be screened at various academic and at institutions
prior to Election Day. Both videos reflect concerns
about public betrayal from the government and the
importance of voting participation. Please
for more information.
The screening was enlightening and educating. The
provides an important foundation for Americans as
they respond to party
conventions and the controversial election in November.
No matter who
you're voting for, get off
your couch and stand up for something!
End of the Century
The Story of the Ramones
Reviewed by Josh McLane
I had no expectations when I walked
into the theater to see "End of the Century."
I like the Ramones. I'm not their biggest fan, but
I think they're a great band and I was lucky enough
to see them on their farewell tour. Before I saw
the film, I really did not know much about them
except for some basic facts - they were the first
real punk rock band, all members changed their last
name to Ramone, they sniffed glue etc. etc.
The film put all the hype into
perspective and opened my eyes to the loud and often-times
harsh world of the Ramones. It was one of the most
impressive, thought provoking, concise, sobering
and hilarious documentaries I have ever seen. What
really impressed me were the raw candid interviews.
Everyone involved spoke their mind, they didn't
hold back, they just came right out and said what
they thought. (continued)
"When I'm with you,
I feel safe-like I'm home." Andrew Largeman
Starring: Natalie Portman; Zach Braff; Peter Sarsgaard
Reviewed by Stephanie Alberico
My father always said home is
not a place, but instead it is the people
that surround you. Garden State, a new film written
and directed by Zach Braff, is a movie about the
people who make us feel home.
Andrew Largeman, played by Zach Braff, is the lead
character who returns to his hometown of New Jersey
for the first time since he left nine years before.
Braff stars in the TV series, Scrubs.
In the film, Large has returned home to attend his
mother's funeral. He left home nine years earlier
to attend boarding school and pursue an acting career
in L.A. Andrew is welcomed home by his group of
friends whom seemed to never have left Jersey. He
also meets and falls in love with a girl named Sam,
played by Natalie Portman.
Largeman is a complex character who has been pumped
full of medication his entire life. Before he gets
home he decides to experiment by altogether discontinuing
his use of Lithium, Paxil, and Zoloft. The film
continues to follow this man on his journey to turn
his life around.
Largeman is accompanied by his best friend, Mark,
played by a convincing Peter Sarsgaard. Mark ventures
to cheer up his friend by "tracking him down"
a present, before he leaves home again.
"I'm ok with being unimpressive, I sleep better."
Mark tells his mother, in one scene. Mark is a sarcastic
pot head who is nagged constantly by his mother
to purchase real estate videos and therefore get
a "real job."
This is a coming-of-age film about friendships,
life, love, family, and
inner-conflict. It was fresh and fun. The music
which accompanied the film was perfectly matched
with each scene. It seemed to keep the movie flowing
and make it more emotional. I definitely recommend
buying the soundtrack.
The production was realistic and clever. It proceeds
to become a love
story hidden within a creative and imaginative delivery.
Largeman resolves many important conflicts by the
end of the film. He
explores the feeling of living a "real life,"
complete without medication and instead pain and
hardship. He mends his relationships with his father,
who was also his shrink. Large realizes he must
make his own decisions about his life and not always
follow his father's instructions. Life is not always
happy, but instead painful and real.
Garden State was a hilarious satire about real-life
people and situations. The actors were insightful
and believable. It was a feel-good movie which left
me hopeful and inspired.
Opens October 22nd.
Reviewed by Jessica
Happy Hour begins
like so many other tales of the city - soulful
music, view of the New York skyline at night. But
what ensues in Mike Bencivegna's film is a very
personal look at deceptively stereotypical characters
and what happens when happy hour ends and real
The story follows
Tulley (Anthony Paglia), a boozy smart ass who
had once showed great promise as a writer but has
since buried that talent under years of meaningless
work as a copy editor and about 35,000 gallons
of whiskey. Tulley is accompanied on most of his
benders by his sidekick Levine, himself a writer
suffering from lack of confidence and the inertia
good times with Tulley brings on. One night at "the
bar" Tulley meets Natalie (Caroleen Feeney),
a school teacher who doesn't like children and
seems tired out by life. The two hit it off (and
hit the sheets) and soon the trio is inseperable.
built on such liquor-saturated ground are rarely
stable, and when Tulley learns that his years of
liver abuse have caught up with him, the dynamic
of the friendships shift. Tulley feels death's
urgency in finishing his novel - seventeen years
in the works. Levine sees in Tulley his own future
if he stays his present course. And Natalie must
determine whether love is worth the pain it can
The film is very
atmospheric - great shots of the city, its (pre-Bloomberg)
smoky bars and soaring corporate fortresses. LaPaglia's
ragged voice over and the moody score round out
the gritty-city feel. And while the film is heavy
on drama, there are more than a few laugh-out-loud
lines- mostly Tulley's - that lighten the mood.
LaPaglia, Feeney and particularly Stoltz deliver
fine performances and play off one another naturally.
rather gloomy subject matter - following an alcoholic
in demise is hardly cheery - the film is finally
hopeful. You just may not want to go out for
a beer afterwards.
22 E. 12th St
Tae Guk Gi
The Brotherhood of War
Korean with English Subtitles
Opens Sept. 10, 2004
Reviewed by Stephanie
I hate subtitles.
I don't feel reading should be a prerequisite for
movie-going. However, Kang Je-gyu's new war film, "Tae Guk Gi," is
exception to the rule. My understanding of the film came solely through the
vivid imagery and not the words. Its message was strong and clear.
Director Kang Je-gyu
delivers a courageous story about honor and betrayal,
but most of all about brotherly love. The Brotherhood
of War takes a look at the effects the Korean War
had on its country, society, and families.
Kang Je-gyu is the
acclaimed director of the foreign blockbuster, "Shiri." He
has brought audiences another touching and emotional
tale with this film. He proves his ability to create
a distinct war film that features mammoth battle
scenes and an underlying story about a divided
nation, and a family torn apart.
According to the
press release, "Tae Guk Gi," is the most
expensive Korean film ever produced at a budget
of $14 million. It has also become Korea's highest
grossing film of all time. Kang Je-gyu is now opening
his movie in the United States after the amazing
success it has seen in Asia. "Tae Guk Gi," is
named after the national flag of South Korea. It
symbolizes the universe and nature.
The movie begins
modern-day. An elderly South Korean man, Jin-seok
Lee, and his granddaughter receive a call about
some bones found from the Korean War. The man then
flashes back to the 1950's to begin telling his
story. Jin-tae Lee, played by Jang Dong-gun, is
the older brother of the two and supports his family
by shining shoes. Jin-seok Lee, played by Won Bin,
is the younger and more educated brother.
They are both involuntarily
drafted in the war and ripped away from their families.
Jin-tae watches protectively over his younger brother
during the war. He tries incessantly to get him
discharged from service to return home and care
for their family. The two brothers are thrown into
a viscous war of violence and tragedy.
Most of the scenes
look like something out of a horror film, with
blood and guts covering the screen. These scenes
are gory, bloody, and gut-wrenching. Think "Saving
Private Ryan," Korean-style. In one scene,
a soldier's leg is blown off and blood pours out
of his stomach from a bullet-wound, as he fights
for his life. Make sure to leave the kids at home.
The battle scenes
are also visceral and extravagant. One soldier
cannot handle the pressures of war, so shoots himself
in the head with a rifle. A close-up reveals his
head in a pool of blood. Another soldier's torso
is diseased with maggots. Soldiers burn corpses
and murder innocent victims. Half of a man's face
is burned off, as smoke billows from his head.
Men's limbs are blown off in every direction.
It was. I even had to cover my eyes for many of
scenes. Nonetheless, the horror and reality left me on the edge of my seat
in anticipation of what came next. But don't worry, the director didn't forget
to leave room for comic relief either. After the soldiers have been starving
for days, they are rewarded with a banquet of food. They shove their faces
with food and giggle like school children. I felt the relief and enjoyment
of this meal right along with the men. Jin-tae even brings Jin-seok a giant
Hershey's bar and gives him a drunk pep talk.
This film not only
depicts the atrocities of war, but the effect the
violence had on the psychological descent of the soldiers' minds. Jin-tae soon
becomes crazed and obsessed with the violence as he gains power at different
battle scenes. He then focuses his motivation on winning the medal of honor,
at all costs. Jin-seok recognizes his older brother's fatal mistake and tries
to remind him of the life he left behind-his home, his fiancée, and
Back home, Jin-tae's
fiancée, Young-Shin, is forced to sign up
for rallies to feed their family. The government
could not provide food or supplies for their people.
Many starved to death.
"Join the communists
or die," becomes the central theme of the
film. Kang Je-gyu's resentment and hatred for communist
North Korea becomes obvious throughout the film.
After some victorious
scenes, it seems as though the war may end and
both brothers will return home safely. Jin-tae
wins the medal of honor for capturing a sergeant
alive. But as in all tragedies, the war and the
story take a turn for the worst. Even more death
and tragedies occur and Jin-tae's mentality deteriorates
"He is not
the brother I once knew. He has changed," Jin-seok
dictates. The war's destructive path continues
and kills more innocent people. Massive explosions
and horrendous battle scenes fill up the film until
the very end. I felt sick to my stomach by the
end of the film. My head was pounding and I was
fighting back tears.
jets attack from the air and machine guns spit
from every direction. Yet, the action never gets in the way of the movie's
most important lesson: A brother's love is unconditional and they are willing
to kill and die for each other.
The film is an emotional
and tear-jerking adventure in and of itself. It
had the ability to make me jump from fright, cry,
and then suddenly laugh out loud. I was so entranced
by the film, I even forgot all about subtitles.
Jang Dong-gun and
Won Bin provide award-winning performances, which
is sure to leave audiences riveted. I fell in love
with Won Bin for his heartfelt performance. Jang
Dong-gun portrayed an emotionally unstable, psychotic
soldier with ease.
The Korean War or "The
Forgotten War" was a brutal fight, which tore
families apart and left most Koreans confused about what they were fighting
for. One of the ending scenes will forever be burned in my mind. Jin-seok returns
to the war to try to save his brother one last time, but Jin-tae is so far
gone that he does not even recognize his own brother. Jin-tae tries numerous
times to kill his own brother and they are brutally beating each other to the
verge of death. Jin-tae finally snaps out of it and recognizes his brother,
whom he thought was dead. The brothers share a moment of undying love, before
the fatal end of their relationship. I tricked myself into believing the ending
would not turn out tragic, despite all of the clues.
"Tae Guk Gi," is
sure to haunt audiences in the United States, as
it has already done in Asia. It will probably even
tempt you to call your brother and tell him how
much you love him. Just be sure not to see this
one on a full stomach
Urban World Film Festival
Starring Carl Louis,
Layla Edwards, Randy Clark, and Postell Pringle
Reviewed by Wendy
Living in New York
can be tough all around, especially so if you are
young and don't have loving parents with a working
checkbook. Everything can go wrong and frequently
does. Family and friends can be the only thing
that keeps a young (even college-educated) person
off the street.
"Unknown Soldier," written
and directed by Ferenc Toth, is a poignant slice-of-life
film about a young black guy named Ellison or "L" (played
by Carl Lewis), who loses his comfortable life
when his father dies suddenly, leaving him with
nothing. Evicted from his apartment, he is thrown
on the mercies of financially strapped friends
and ends up spending many a night on the rooftops
and in the doorways of Harlem. And by losing his
home, he also loses any hope of staying apace with
his girl friend, Tandee (played by Layla Edwards),
who is moving on with her life by going to college
in the fall. Forced into a homeless shelter, "L" is
quickly seduced by the darker side of life, and
starts running errands and "driving" for
a charismatic local hood named Zee (played by Postell
"Unknown Soldier" had
a very limited budget and with its many hand-held
camera scenes, it sometimes seems more like a documentary
than a "film." Some of the scenes are
so poorly lit, you can barely see the actors. But
Mr. Toth's story shines through the dark. Carl
Lewis is a natural actor who possesses an innate
sweetness that carries the film. No matter what
adversity befell "L" I really liked him
and knew that in the end, he would be okay.
I saw the film at
the Urban World Film Festival. As I was walking
into the auditorium, I was surrounded by a large
group of Harlem street kids. So I said to myself, "They've
come to watch the film
.a little different
group from your normal film festival crowd, but
this is the Urban World Film Festival and someone
must have done some targeted marketing." Then
I saw the film and realized that those street kids
were the film's actors and they were all great!
It was a very cool moment, one you can only have
in New York. Bravo!