The story about how the Ethiopian warriors turned back the much better-armed Italian army has been told for generations in the northern African nation. Now that legend/fact has been translated from story to silver screen by Ethiopia's answer to Ken Burns, Haile Gerima. Part of the African Film series. Mr. Gerima will led a post-movie lecture/discussion.
This movie is what's known in cinephile circles as a "tone poem." All that means is there's no plot, no characters, and no literal meanings. All you get instead are some of the most beautiful images ever rendered for the screen--a sort of sensual omnibus that strives successfully to give an overwhelming inkling of the vast panoply of human and natural interaction that is life in this modern world. (Sean Nelson)
A shit-eating redux of that golden cinematic nugget known as The Fast & the Furious, Biker Boyz puts our urban heroes atop whining Hondas in a film that will no doubt make more money in its opening weekend than I will in my entire life.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Confessions is framed by scenes of aging television producer Chuck Barris standing naked in front of a TV screen, reflecting on his life and how it came to be such a big pile of crap It tells of his youth; tricking his niece into licking his penis, getting into television because it would get him more pussy, and as an adult, trying to find balance between the crazy world of producing The Gong Show and being a hitman for the CIA. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
See review this issue.
Two friends, living amidst the war in Chad in the 1970s, join the rebel army after their village is destroyed. While at first they believe they are fighting for justice, their opinions of the war diverge, and they come to separate opinions about surviving in their country.
Denis A. Charles: An Interrupted Conversation
He may have been nomadic and routinely homeless, but he served as the anchor for some of the jazz greats. The amazing story of an amazing drummer.
Final Destination 2
See review this issue.
Based on Kurt Tocholsky's semi-autobiographical book, this film follows a brash journalist as he watches his life unravel. After spending an idyllic summer in Sweden with a friend, the journalist is suddenly caught up in world politics as the Nazis accuse him of being a traitor and his friend accuses him of being a Nazi sympathizer. The real Tocholsky killed himself. A beautiful and haunting film.
See review this issue.
The kick-off for this year's African Film Festival: Based on the opera Carmen, this film adaptation stars a black Karmen, takes place in Senegal, and is set in the world of underground smuggling. The very sexually liberated Karmen seduces the warden of the jail where she is imprisoned and returns, with a vengeance, to her world of crime.
Kinky Friedman w/Almost Elvis
A double feature: Kinky Friedman: Proud To Be An Asshole From El Paso follows what may be the only renaissance man from the Lone Star state. He has shared the stage with the likes of Iggy Pop and Tom Waits; is luminary enough to have Bill Clinton and Lyle Lovett give commentary about his life; and now fills his time as a mystery writer. An odd bird. Almost Elvis gives a behind-the-scenes view into the annual Memphis competition for the best Elvis impersonator.
Like a group of Lonely Planet travel writers tripping over each other, after Buena Vista Social Club, it was off to the races for documentary filmmakers hoping to find the next unknown, underappreciated hot spot. Turns out it was just around the corner: A toe-tapping film about The Salon Rosado, a working-class dance hall in--you got it--Cuba!
Land of Silence and Darkness
Werner Herzog follows a deaf and blind woman (Fini Straubinger) in a documentary about her quest to help others in similar situations. She meets another woman who has been sent to a home for the mentally disabled, when it is her sight and hearing that are impaired. She also encounters Heinrich, a farmer who has taken to living with the animals in order to avoid people. Footage is interspersed with text written by Fini or Herzog himself, which attempt to convey the feeling of being unable to see or hear.
Le Camp de Thiaroye
One of the least-told stories about World War II is that it was indeed a world war: soldiers from Africa joined their colonial nations to defend peace, liberty and justice. But after being released from a concentration camp, one group of Senegalese soldiers were not given any of the very freedoms or equality that they fought for. This film tells the story of how the Senegalese battled with the French after World War II for back pay and simple recognition.
Despite appearances to the contrary, the film is not about the indomitable spirit of a survivor. It's about how low a human being can sink in order to live, and the depths of abasement a race is capable of withstanding in order to avoid extinction. (Sean Nelson)
Plastic People of the Universe
Formed in 1968, the same year that Soviet troops quashed every murmur of freedom in their homeland of Czechoslovakia, The Plastic People have been the pep squad for democratic revolution. A documentary about real courage and real rock-n-roll.
See review this issue.
In WWII Paris, two men in the film industry cope with the German occupation. One takes a job working for a German film company, and the other, having no money, hops from one woman's bed to another.
Scott Ross' Digital Domain
Beside email, the computer's greatest contribution to society has been special effects in movies. In fact, special effects have made movies better than real life! Where else can you ride along with a bullet or see faces melt in front of you? So cool! One of Hollywood's leading special effects geeks, Scott Ross, shows clips and talks tonight about the future.
There are plenty of old news reels of Jews fleeing Europe in the 1930s. But where did they all go? That story hasn't been told as often. Did you know that Shanghai became home to 20,000 Jewish refuges? A fascinating and painful chapter in the transformation of Jewish culture.
Talk to Her
Talk to Her, Spain's camp bad boy Pedro Almodovar's latest film, contains no drugs or sex, and I didn't even notice until it was over. That's because Almodovar has always trafficked in extreme emotions and the actions that spring from them. Actions and craziness often overshadow feelings in his earlier films, but with Talk to Her, Almodovar gives us the most mature and deeply felt of his movies. It's the story of two comatose women (one a female bullfighter and the other a ballerina), the two men who care for them (Benigno, a male nurse, and Marco, a writer), and the friendships that grow between them. (Nate Lippens)
Tom Dowd and the Language of Music
Dowd has worked with everyone from the Drifters to John Coltrane to Sonny & Cher... oh, and Otis Redding and Rod Stewart. A documentary about the recently deceased recording artist who developed the sounds that have become America's soundtrack.
The Way Home
In this 2002 Korean charmer, a spoiled city kid, accustomed to toys and fast food and things Western, is sent to live with his grandmother, a kindly rural mute who communicates only with rudimentary sign language. With temper tantrums, grating, spoiled fits and mean-spirited hijinks, he resists the charms of poverty and simplicity--not to mention the affection of Granny--until the batteries run out on his hand-held video game, at which point he is forced to face the situation (and possibly grow from it). Although director Heong-Hyang Lee lets the bratty behavior continue too far into the story, it's forgivable thanks largely to the perfomance of Eul-Boon Kim, who gives Granny staggering depth, especially for a first-time actor who'd never even seen a movie before Lee recruited her for this role. (Jonathan Mahalak)
Olivia Newton-John plays a Greek godess brought to life by a roller-skating artist. Glitter, glamor, song, and outfit changes ensue.