Archive for April, 2004

2004

April 19, 2004

Camera 7

USA

English

108 minutes

You Can Erase Someone From Your Mind. Getting Them Out Of Your Heart Is Another Story — ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND.

It’s official: Charlie Kaufman is a genius. People rant and rave about how Tarantino can write realistic, witty dialogue. So far, QT hasn’t yet written a script where the lead character is writing the film you are watching as you watch it. He also hasn’t yet written a script where we go with the character, don’t know any more than he does, and experience memories as the character does, only to have them erased as we watch. Where in the world does this guy get these ideas?

Luckily, I happened to have Kaufman’s Charlie Rose interview on the Tivo when I got home after this. He claims the idea came from a performance artist he knows who wanted to pass out business cards saying that the person had been erased from someone else’s memory. Kaufman took this idea to the romance area, and wondered what would happen if at the end of a relationship, when someone yells, “I’d be better off if we never met!”, they actually could go through a procedure where they didn’t ever meet.

The ideas are good. Without giving anything away, which in this case might not be possible, Carey meets a girl in a train who seems familiar. In a flashback (we never know how far we are flashing back), his friend (demi-god David Cross) shows him a card that says that Winslet has erased Carey from her memory, explaining why she seemed to not know him when he visited her at the Barnes and Noble. To get her out of his mind, he seeks to undergo the same procedure.

That’s the plot. But how on earth do you film something like this? How do we see what Carey’s mind is seeing while the memories are being erased? Somehow, they found a way. While the doctor finds the memory on a brain scan map, we see what Carey is remembering. A fight, cuddle, funny thing, embarrassment. Then the memory fades around him while he goes through it. It’s hard to explain, but as the memory becomes more fuzzy, stuff on the screen becomes more fuzzy, mostly when you least expect it.

The two are at a street fair, talking and laughing, Carey leans against a street pole which disintegrates and disappears while he stumbles.

Deeply romantic, it makes us wonder if we all wouldn’t be better off falling in love over and over with the same person rather than trying to figure out how to relate once the falling in love phase has already worn off.

I need to see it again to catch the things I missed.

***^ Ebert

***^ Berardinelli

8.7 Critical Consensus

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2003

April 19, 2004

Camera 7

UK

English

106 minutes

The Closer You Are To Death, The More You Realize You Are Alive — TOUCHING THE VOID.

I’m watching HBO’s Real Sports about a month back. Some critics have said that Real Sports is the best newsmagazine on all of television, never mind a newsmagazine about sports. Anyway, Bernie Goldberg (the liberal-hating-guy) tells the story of two mountain climbers in Peru. Without using any storytelling tricks, he gives a 15 minute overview of the most amazing story of adventure sports I’ve ever heard.

The story writes itself. Nothing needs to be added. No “guy was about to get married” or “help was only ten feet away.” The incredibly popular INTO THIN AIR book was a good story about a group of people on Mount Everest. The altitude killed people, the snow killed people, inexperience killed people. We were “lucky” to have Krakauer on hand to let us know what happened. He is a master story teller. The two principals in this film are not storytellers, but they don’t have to be.

In a nutshell, two friends try to climb the face of a mountain never successfully bagged. On the way down, where almost all accidents occur, one guy breaks his leg, which usually means he’s dead. You cannot get down a 20,000 foot mountain on one leg. Instead, his friend begins lowering him 300 feet at a time. The lowerer begins slipping and needs to cut the rope to save himself, thereby killing his friend. Since we see both men, we know they both got off the mountain alive. But how?

Neither guy is particularly heroic. They don’t brag about facing death. They are matter-of-fact about the sport they love. Fascinating.

**** Ebert

***^ Berardinelli

8.2 Critical Consensus

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2004

April 19, 2004

HBO

USA

English

123 minutes

Lead, Follow Or Get Out Of The Way — IRON JAWED ANGELS.

Story of the 19th Amendment and the more radical elements of the Woman’s Suffragette Movement. The genius of the film is making the women, smart, sexy, horny, crass, and human, rather than the black and white severe women pictured in history books. Add to this modern filming and music, and it proved to be more interesting than the topic might have been on its own. Hunger strikes, mental institutions, police beatings. Very nice casting with Hilary Swank, Francis O’Connor, Julia Ormond, and Molly Parker. One sympathetic male figure in the form of Patrick Dempsey. Well-done and interesting.

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2004

April 18, 2004

PBS

American Experience

USA

English

63 minutes

Fun documentary about the founding and success of Tupperware house parties. Introduced me to Brownie Wise, who was some sort of 50s superwoman. She developed the house party concept, got too powerful, and was fired with little compensation after making Mr. Tupper millions.

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2002

April 18, 2004

Camera Cinema Club

Argentina / Netherlands

Spanish

86 minutes

Cupid Just Turned Eight — VALENTIN

Leave it to Miramax to mis-market a movie like this. Judging from the poster above, you’d think it was the story of a precocious boy who brings two destined lovers together. Without giving too much away, the two people kissing in the poster meet with about 30 seconds left in the film. Not a terrible film, but it sure seemed longer than 86 minutes. Boy from broken home narrates story of his life. He lives with his grandmother. His father is absent, his mother is never seen, his grandma misses her late husband. He wants to be an astronaut. He befriends others in his neighborhood. I kept waiting to get pulled into his life, but it never happened. Everyone is good enough in it. Just nothing special.

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2001

April 17, 2004

IFC

USA

English

103 minutes

Massillon Ohio: Where They Live, Breathe And Eat Football — GO TIGERS!

Fascinating documentary that is even better than other great sporting documentaries. The opening scene is of a high school football booster visiting a newborn boy and putting a football in his crib, saying “see you in 16 years”. What at first seems like nothing more than a joke, with the mother playing along (“I hope so” she says in response), turns out to be something taken very seriously in the Ohio town of Massillon.

Football games are held in front of 15,000 people on a typical Friday. One annual game with cross-town rivals takes place at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. I can remember my own High School football games attracting several hundred at most.

While filming this, a tax levy was being offered on the ballot. Those opposed were pointing out the amount of money spent on football, while those in favor spoke of football being the lifeblood of the community. One controversial portion had the matter-of-fact discussion of most of the senior stars being held back in 9th grade so that they could learn the plays and get bigger in time for their senior year. They spoke about it like it was the most natural thing in the world.

*** Ebert

*** Berardinelli

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2002

April 13, 2004

The Movie Channel

USA / UK

English

100 minutes

Absolutely terrible. There are exactly three reasons to watch: those scenes in which Heather Graham is naked, one involving scarves around her neck. Tivo it and fast-forward. By all means, don’t try to figure out its plot intricacies.

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2004

March 14, 2004

San Jose Cinequest

USA

English

75 minutes

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2003

April 7, 2004

Camera 3

Germany

German

121 minutes

6.8 Critical Consensus

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2004

March 14, 2004

San Jose Cinquest

USA

English

8 minutes

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FOOLS

2003

March 14, 2004

San Jose Cinequest

Germany

German

93 minutes

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FADO BLUES

2004

March 14, 2004

San Jose Cinequest

Portugal

Portuguese

111 minutes

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REWIND

2003

March 14, 2004

San Jose Cinequest

South Korea

Korean

100 minutes

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2004

March 12, 2004

San Jose Cinequest

USA

English

77 minutes

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THE LAST ZAPATISTAS

2002

March 11, 2004

San Jose Cinequest

Mexico

Spanish

70 minutes

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2004

March 11, 2004

San Jose Cinequest

China

Mandarin

88 minutes

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2001

March 6, 2004

Showtime

USA

English

80 minutes

The Story Of America’s Most Unlikely Sex Star — PORN STAR: THE LEGEND OF RON JEREMY.

6.2 Critical Consensus

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2002

March 6, 2004

Sundance

USA

English

100 minutes

1969…San Francisco…Sexual Anarchy — THE COCKETTES

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2003

March 5, 2004

San Jose Cinequest

Canada

English

82 minutes

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2004

March 5, 2004

San Jose Cinequest

USA

English

89 minutes

You’d Think It Was A High School Football Factory. You’ll Find It’s Much More — 1

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2004

March 5, 2004

Cinequest

USA

English

10 minutes

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2003

September 24, 2003

March 2, 2004

Camera 3

USA / Japan

English / Japanese / German / French

102 minutes

The best film of 2003.

8.9 Critical Consensus

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2003

March 2, 2004

Camera 3

UK / France / Italy / USA

English / French

115 minutes

6.4 Critical Consensus

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Written by Michael W. Cummins