GOZU “Look into my tongue...”
Brothers In Arms
dir. Alexander
Opens Fri, Sept 10
Hollywood Theater

After seeing Brothers In Arms, I'm convinced that John Kerry is a decent, honest, and trustworthy human being. Why? When Kerry was slandered in a newspaper article during his Senate race--an article that accused him of shooting a wounded and retreating Viet Cong soldier in combat--every single one of his swift boat crewmates stood beside him and backed up his story. They stated that their boat had been engaged in heated battle with the Viet Cong, and the soldier was gearing up to destroy the boat with a rocket, and it was then that Kerry killed the man, quite possibly saving his crewmates' lives.

Brothers in Arms explores time spent in Vietnam by both Kerry and his boatmates, and how the events that took place have affected their lives. All of the men have had difficult times dealing with the wounds of war--two of Kerry's brethren admit to alcoholism, and two admit to having thought seriously about suicide (Kerry even helped thwart one of the men's attempts). Admirably, Kerry's response to his time in Vietnam was to return to America and protest the war, even asking "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Brothers In Arms is an inspiring film for a lot of reasons, but its relevance to the upcoming election also makes it an important film. In contrast to George W. Bush, Brothers In Arms' examination of Kerry's actions in Vietnam help establish him as a reliable, thinking, and politically active leader--one who seems more concerned with doing what's right for America than what's right for his vice president's gas company or his Christian agenda.

Brothers In Arms isn't the most brilliant documentary I've ever seen--the editing is cheesy, and the director fails to drive home a solid point--but in its examination of Kerry, the film strengthened my resolve that he's is the right man for the presidency... even though I didn't really need to be convinced. KATIE SHIMER

Gozu
dir. Miike
Opens Fri, Sept 10
Clinton St. Theater

The most shocking thing about Gozu, the 2003 film from cult favorite shockmeister Takashi Miike, is how pedestrian it begins. Miike and screenwriter Sakichi Sat#244 introduce two Yakuza, Minami (Hideki Sone), and his elder, Ozaki (Sho Aikawa). Ozaki's going crazy--as demonstrated by his darkly hilarious killing of a Chihuahua that he insists is a "Yakuza attack dog"--so Minami's superior orders him to dispose of him.

What follows from there is--dare I say it--pretty boring, with Minami driving Ozaki to the country and having meandering conversations. But then Ozaki disappears, Minami's left to try and track him down, and a subtle demonstration of Miike's brilliance begins: slowly but surely, imperceptibly but inexplicably, the darkest, funniest sort of surrealism worms its way into the bewildered Minami's tale. I won't spoil the bizarre events Minami's subjected to--instead I'll use the clichéd "has to be seen to be believed" line, and throw in a "by the end credits, some utterly fucking unexpected plot twists leave Gozu in a place so far removed from its prosaic opening that it's hardly recognizable as the same film."

Miike builds the movie with such off-putting grace that Gozu always feels organic and disconcertingly believable, regardless of the increasingly strange always unexpected, and often disturbing incidents that plague Minami (and by proxy, the audience). Removed from his other work, Gozu shows a steady, confident (but no less fucked up) hand, and reinforces yet again the creepily comic, visceral control Miike has over his audience. ERIK HENRIKSEN