An exploration of the fantasies spawned in the West about the East, especially relating to femininity and the Orient.
Work from animators from 1896 to 2002 including Thomas Edison, Tim Burton, Laura Klien, and more... Please arrive on time.
Based on "humorist" Dave Barry's novel, Big Trouble tells the story of how a mysterious suitcase brings together and changes the lives of a motley-ass group of people, played by a motley-ass ensemble cast that features Tim Allen, Janeane Garofalo, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci, and many many more.
At the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, there was a live exhibit of "primitive" tribesmen brought over from the Phillipines. The grandson of one of the displayed tribesmen charts what happened to the demoralized men through fictional reenactments and archival photos and footage.
Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck are involved in a fender-bender, rendering Jackson immobile. Affleck speeds off, unknowingly leaving behind an extremely important document; a bitter Jackson misses an important custody hearing, and a grand old feud is born. So Affleck, from atop New York's twin-towers-less skyline, attacks Jackson's financial credibility, while down on the streets below Jackson prepares an old-fashioned smackdown. Who wins? You won't care. It has to be noted that there's a declining marginal utility to disaster in the movies; way too many things just happen to go wrong in this film, and it wears upon its feasibility. (Kudzai Mudede)
* Children Underground
Because birth control and abortions were outlawed during Nicolai Ceaucescu's regime in Romania, 20,000 unwanted orphans now live on the streets of Bucharest, hunting for food and enough money to buy paint thinner for huffing. A film crew spends 18 hours a day with five of the kids.
An aging, unlucky-in-love school headmistress in an English village (improbably played by horsey cracker Andie MacDowell) finds comfort in the cackling company of her two similarly desperate girlfriends. Until their weekly bitchfest is complicated by the arrival of her true love in the age-inappropriate form of a 25-year-old hottie. Okay, this is a perfectly acceptable set-up for nice little comedy. So why the shocking lurch into Stella Got Her Groove Back and Then It Got Hit by a Truck more than 3/4 of the way through the movie? Whoa! What is this crap? No Weddings and the Funeral of the Lovable Male Lead? Pick a lane and stay in it, people, you're giving me a headache. (Tamara Paris)
Death to Smoochy
Driven by adults' universal aversion to pervy, purple, children's TV characters, Danny Devito's dark comedy is adequately raunchy, but ultimately forgettable. There's nothing really wrong with the dour turns by Devito, Ed Norton, and Robin Williams, but the script simply isn't deviant or developed enough to hold up. (Hannah Levin)
Diamond Men is like a masculine version of Thelma & Louise--lots of driving, otherwise law-abiding characters suddenly immersed in criminal dealings, and big time male bonding. The duo in question are a pair of diamond dealers, and the film follows the relationship that develops between them on the long drives out to meet with clients. Things start to get shady when they begin frequenting a massage parlor in the sticks. It was a kick to see Donny from NKOTB, and the film studies an interesting relationship that crosses age lines, but the sentimentality grows tedious at times and the characters are somewhat predictable. Then again, Father's Day is coming up and this would certainly make a decent daddy date. (Marjorie Skinner)
Not even bad enough to pass for a cheesy film rife with ironic hilarity, this crapfest follows the horrendous acting of Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, and Powers Boothe through the most condescendingly stupid plot about a guy who believes God is instructing him to slaughter "demons" (i.e. hairdressers, old men, nurses) on earth. The plot twists are predictable, the script was written by a two-year-old, and if you force yourself through the whole thing like I did, you'll have a little less self-respect after it's over. (Julianne Shepherd)
The film tracks several characters over the course of one day. Their activities intertwine in mysterious ways, the eventual result of which is the fulfillment of the daily horoscope. The film opens with Irene (Audrey Tautou) and Younes (Faudel) riding the Paris Metro, strangers who share a birthday; their horoscope predicts that they will meet their soulmate by the end of the day. Happenstance is an interesting exploration of philosophical attempts to explain or control the outcome of life. The realization is that there is no way to effectively control fate, and there is no such thing as an insignificant act or gesture. Fine, but the bit about the butterfly flapping its wings over the Atlantic and causing a tsunami in the Pacific could really use revamping. (Marjorie Skinner)
This bad film is directed by the great Carl Franklin, who directed Devil in A Blue Dress. The movie (which stars Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd) is not horrible, just too professional and conventional. Set in an army court, it lacks sweeping shots of spectacular army helicopters, and, in the court scenes, it fails to sustain and exploit that efficient military speak ("These are the rules of engagement, sir!"). The result is a bland version of Denzel Washington's superb Courage Under Fire, which had lots of helicopters and military speak. (Charles Mudede)
Doomed to the life of an outcast, Lila (Patricia Arquette) was born with an abnormal amount of body hair--not just cursed with hairy legs or coot, Lila's golden sheath of fur makes her look like a frigging Golden Retriever. Because of this, she moves into the wilderness to write nature books with titles like Fuck Humanity. Eventually, however, thanks to the yearn in her loins she returns to civilization, where she gets electrolysis. Fur-free, Lila will date anybody--even Nathan, a stuffy scientist whose life dream is to teach proper table manners to mice (played by Tim Robbins). It's a weird movie, to be sure, but it's almost like writer, Charlie Kaufman, was afraid of being too weird, and it held him back. Human Nature is worth seeing for its sheer uniqueness, but unfortunately, it's lacking a little spark. (Julianne Shepherd)
The brilliant British writer and philosopher Iris Murdoch (Judi Dench, Kate Winslet), a woman who lives most decidedly in the world of ideas, succumbs to the dementia of Alzheimer's, "sailing into darkness" as she so rightly puts it.
It Came From Outer Space
This 1953 film was originally written by Ray Bradbury, AND it's in 3-D. It's one of those films in which the aliens start out being evil monsters, and then you realize that they're actually kind, nice monsters, objectified by us phobic Americans.
* Italian for Beginners
The characters of Italian for Beginners begin in a state of despair. This being a romantic comedy, their lives begin to intersect through a series of coincidences-coincidences that could feel contrived, but due to the rough integrity of the script, performances, and direction (shaped in part by the monastic rigors of the Dogme 95 ethic), they feel like the organic waywardness of life. (Bret Fetzer)
* Kissing Jessica Stein
With the dumb title and no name actors, you wouldn't think this would be a good film, but it is. Sex-fiend Helen places an ad in the paper because she wants to try getting her lesbian freak on, and uptight girl, Jessica, is so taken by the ad that she decides to give it a chance. The gals end up trying it out together for a while, and Jessica overcomes a lot of issues, including whether she's gay or not. The peripheral characters are hysterical, and the relationship between Jessica and Helen makes you question how easy it would be to go gay or to be gay. (Katie Shimer)
The talents of six of the finest British actors alive (Tom Courtenay, Bob Hoskins, David Hemmings, Michael Caine, Helen Mirren, and Ray Winstone) are squandered by this moist little movie about a journey to deliver a dead man's ashes to the seaside. (Sean Nelson)
Light and Rhythms
Short avant garde films from the 1930s and 40s.
* Monsoon Wedding
At first, it seems like Mira Nair is just doing family drama. The film is stylish, brisk, witty, and beautifully filmed (marigolds are so vibrant they would leave bright orange dust on your fingers if you touched them). But within the patchwork of marriage melodrama, Monsoon Wedding presents a subversive argument about the insidiousness of progress and its fluid relationship with tradition. Of course, it all comes out right in the end, but in getting to its satisfying resolution, it passes through so many uncomfortable revelations and unthinkable confrontations that it almost feels like watching history unfold. (Sean Nelson)
Monstrous Balls is more like it. Hank is a racist prison guard, son of a retired racist prison guard, and father of a young, non-racist prison guard in a Georgia State Penitentiary death row. Hank falls into a desperate affair with Leticia, a black woman, after both of their sons die. Also, Hank executed her husband. Hank's dad says "nigger" and "porch monkey," and Hank fires a shotgun at some black kids, so we know that the film is about breaking the cycle of bigotry. A few nice notes are struck, but too many coincidences motorize this melodrama; its morality is tinny and safe. Via their affair, Hank is cured of racism, and Leticia is cured of grief. She even gets a truck! "I thank we're gone be all right," Hank says at the end. I thank I'm gone puke. (Sean Nelson)
Murder By Numbers
Sandra Bullock plays her usual cheesecake self. She becomes a cop after being a victim of domestic violence. Luckily, Michael Pitt saves this bad acting fest by playing a pretty convincing teenage killer. See review this issue.
Murder on a Sunday Morning
A 65-year-old woman is shot in front of her husband. He identifies a 15-year-old boy who signs a confession and the case seems cut and dry; that is, however, until the public defenders uncover new evidence that implicates the police and the American justice system.
The Music of Terezin
An account of the town of Terezin, Czechoslovakia--a Jewish ghetto where the WWII captives were allowed to attend theater, cabaret, concerts, and opera. Performances of the composers/Holocaust victims of Terezin and survivor recollections.
National Lampoon's Van Wilder
And so once again National Lampoon's attempt to reclaim those cinematic "glory days" falls miserably flat. As a comedy, National Lampoon's Van Wilder offers maybe one or two laughs-not the hearty, spazzy laughs, mind you, but slight chuckles, possibly minor snorts. A zany college romp that tries to be Animal House for a new generation, this film lacks both the zaniness and the wit that made the Delta Brothers' movie so entertaining. Stay away. (Bradley Steinbacher)
Other Side of Heaven
A farm boy from Idaho falls goes to the Tongan Islands in the 1950s, leaving behind his girlfriend. Don't worry though, she lifts his spirits with meaningful letters and the experience teaches him valuable lessons about life and love. A film for freshman girls whose boyfriends have gone off to Cal State.
* Panic in the Streets
Fear erupts in New Orleans when an illegal alien carrying the bubonic plague is found dead in a gutter. A doctor infiltrates the dockside gangster world in order to find the murderers, who have also been exposed to the plague.
Jodie Foster's husband is a rich, cheating prick, so she buys a giant Manhattan brownstone in order to get revenge. The house was previously owned by a dead, paranoid millionaire, and comes complete with a "Panic Room" with video camera monitors, a phone, a motion sensor door, and food. The son of the millionaire, unscary Jared Leto, knows there's money in a safe inside the Panic Room and gets crazy Raoul, and a security expert (docile and friendly Forrest Whitaker) to help him get rich quick. But herein lies the problem: For some reason, dumbass Leto allows the house to sit empty for two weeks before performing the heist, and before he knows it, Jodie and daughter are all moved in. Instead of waiting until they're not home, Leto and pals debate for an hour about whether to try for the money anyway, and a bunch of implausible events ensue. (Katie Shimer)
Ram Dass: Fierce Grace
Richard Alpert, cohort to Timothy Leary, was similarly kicked off the Harvard faculty when the two began experimenting with LSD. While Leary went on to be a dope head, Alpert became Ram Dass, a spiritual leader, author, and lecturer. Hilarious hippie footage and contemporary material of Ram Dass since his stroke combine to create a complete portrait.
Dennis Quaid's hopes of being a major league baseball player were dashed by shoulder injuries and now, he's a high school baseball coach. After the heal up of his final shoulder surgery, however, he realizes he can pitch better than ever before. He makes a bargain with his team that if they'll try and win the next two games, he'll try out for the majors again. Yipee!
The Scorpion King
Who cares if this movie is any good, you get to stare at the most intelligent, gorgeous beefcake in Hollywood--The Rock.
Doug Pray, director of the excellent 1996 grunge-rock documentary Hype, takes on and glorifies the DJs. With Qbert, Invisible Skratch Piklz, Rob Swift, The X-ecutioners, DJ Shadow, Steve Dee, Cut Chemist & NuMark, DJ Craze, and the Allies-yesssss. See review this issue.
The Sweetest Thing
Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate, together at last! Also, as my friend Michael is fond of saying: Someone get that Selma Blair a steak. The film is some kind of romantic comedy bullshit from the director of Cruel Intentions.
The Time Machine
In this remake of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) has is a science geek and tremendously unsatisfied with his lot in life. However, when his fiancée meets an untimely death, he builds a machine designed to take him back and set things right. That doesn't work. So he travels to the future to answer the age-old question, "Why can't we change the past?" Naturally, when he arrives--800,000 years later--he learns what any grumpy sci-fi author could have told him: humans have fucked everything up and the world is a big shithole. But what makes this particular world a shithole are the "Morlocks," who are a race of well, I don't know what they are, but they look like a cross between Jack Palance and the monsters from The Dark Crystal. Anyway they're kicking the crap out of peaceful surface dwellers, and Hartdegen must decide to either stay and help, or return to a time when they didn't have indoor toilets. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Trembling Before G_d
A portrait of Hasidic Jews living gay lifestyles, and how stinking hard it is. Included are lots of beer guzzling, strip club visiting, masturbating, and crack smoking. No, just kidding. Gay Hasidic Jews try and function, support groups are formed and other things like that happen.
* Velvet Goldmine
Todd Haynes draws on the stories of real-life glamsters and spins them into his own glittering fantasy. Velvet Goldmine should easily turn out to be the best rock film of the '90s. Though the storyline is obviously inspired by the careers of David "Ziggy Stardust" Bowie and Iggy Pop, it is not a biography. Brian Slade is Ziggy to the Iggy of Curt Wild. Watching from the sidelines is Arthur Stuart, a fan-turned-journalist who serves as the story's narrator, looking back on his past from the viewpoint of the dismal '80s. On the surface, Velvet Goldmine sets itself up as a mystery: Stuart's investigation of the disappearance of Slade at the height of the glam era. Haynes takes full advantage of this recollection of the '70s by making everything as opulent as possible, giving the whole thing a richness that stands in stark contrast to the spareness of his previous film, Safe. (Gillian G. Gaar)
An unsappy look at anti-war photographer James Nachtwey. See review this issue.
* The Warriors
The finest entry in the genre of turf-war-films-where-one-gang-dresses-in-Yankees-outfits- and-another-battles-from-roller-skates; no other such film can touch it. Choreographed fight scenes exquisite enough to make Natalie Wood swoon and desolate subway chase scenes so chilling that Freddie Krueger would wet his pants.
We Were Soldiers
Scrawny little bastard Mel Gibson stars in this jingoistic turd of a Vietnam War film about 400 American soldiers in an elite combast divison who get blasted to bits by the Viet Cong. They try and save themselves and each other, their heroism is unparalleled, blah blah blah.
Writing with Light
Early to mid 1900s avant garde films.