Archive for July, 2005

2005

July 27, 2005
Camera 12 — San Jose CA
USA / UK
English
115 minutes

Incredibly creative, but what else would you expect from Tim Burton. Johnny is good, weird, sometimes mean, often scared and sad. There were a couple of glimpses where I saw Edward Scissorhands trying to sneak through his face, even if that face was cadaver-colored and covered by pageboy bangs. He wasn’t doing Michael Jackson, I don’t think. I think he was imitating Frances McDormand in FARGO.

We go from room to room seeing all the candy inventions Wonka can come up with.

The problems are many, however. First of all, this was shown at a sort of artsy/mainstream hybrid of a theater, the independent chain Camera Cinemas. It was so loud that I had my earplugs most of the way in my ears. This is something I expect at the multiplex, but not at a place like this. Not loud explosions, but loud Danny Elfman, a man who is responsible for several of my favorite soundtracks ever. Nothing here was bad music, just headache-inducing in volume.

Secondly, the film became a series of special effects set-pieces, with little connection or emotion to them. We’ll go to this room, this kid will do something stupid and be carted away, we’ll hear a song, then we’ll go to the next room. It felt longer than it should have.

Not terrible–Johnny is better than I’d heard he was–the kid is cute–Grandpa Ned Devine is awake–and Charlie’s house is fantastic. The set design with the tracks in the snow is fabulous. The bratty kids are a bit too far to the side of brattiness, but then we can laugh as they get their just deserts, as it were.

*** Ebert
*** Berardinelli
7.9 Critical Consensus
7.2 Metacritic

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2004

July 27, 2005
Camera 12 — San Jose
USA / Norway
English / Cantonese / Mandarin / Vietnamese
125 minutes

An Epic Story Of Hope — THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY.

Beautiful and slow story of a half-American/half-Vietnamese young man who yearns to meet his parents. We’re told happas like this are called “bui doi”. Which made me sing that song from MISS SAIGON, “…conceived in hell, and born in strife!” complete with jazz hands.

He is looked down upon by the full-blooded Vietnamese in his village, and indeed in his entire country. He is played by a newcomer named Damien Nguyen, who has scars on his face and deep eyes. He is quiet and natural. He is scared and tough and sad. It really is quite something to see. His G.I. father’s genes have made him incredibly tall by Vietnamese standards and this makes him a bit more of a freaky outcast than he would otherwise be.

Finding his mother in Saigon is one thing, but finding his father in Texas is quite another. Harrowing stays in refugee camps and crowded conditions in freighters follow. He is bringing his young half-brother with him and this boy makes friends with Ling, a prostitute played by Bai Ling. In real life, Bai Ling plays up her dragon lady sexual predator image in interviews, HBO’s Entourage, and a recent layout in Playboy. She has never been my cup of tea, looks wise. But in this film, when she doesn’t have makeup or glamorous clothes to fall back on, she is stunning. She vamps herself up at night-time, but washes her clothes in a bowl while wearing her one dress in the daytime. She really is compelling and it would be impossible to be Binh (the lead) and not fall completely in love with her. Their relationship doesn’t go where you would expect.

It is great to see Tim Roth again. Please come back more often.

One issue I had, and it’s sort of small, is there is a storm that hits the freighter, and as if to prove how harrowing the journey is, we see what is obviously old footage of a boat going through huge waves. If you watch the credits, you’ll see that this scene was filmed in 1956. So a 2004 film uses archival footage, which is obviously worn down, to show an angry ocean. It took me away for a minute.

On the other hand, there is visually stunning photography the whole way. No matter where we are, it is beautiful. Every country turns out to be “The Beautiful Country”.

The father-son aspect comes to a resolution in a quiet, perfect way. That was the biggest pleasant surprise of the film. The quest of a boy to meet his father is compelling and honestly portrayed here.

There are problems in thif film to be sure. Time passes at different rates. How long was Binh working or in the camp? How long is the boat ride? Why don’t they land in San Francisco or Long Beach? Where does Ling get her makeup? And how do the Asian characters appear to get better at English with each passing sentence they utter? But the good outweighs the bad here.

By the way, I think this film is rated R simply because of one well-known hand gesture. Unbelievable.

7.0 Metacritic

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2002

July 26, 2005
DVD
USA
English
99 minutes

Talking head documentary about Hollywood actresses who lament turning 40 and the lack of substantial parts to play. Each woman tries to explain why this happens. There are parts until you’re 32, then there are parts when you’re 55, but nothing in between. The collection of actresses that Rosanna Arquette finds is pretty remarkable. She finds many women who were once thought of as young sex symbols, but have left that idea behind. Sharon Stone is annoying as usual because she has such a high opinion of herself. Robin Wright Penn is smart and beautiful. Diane Lane, who beats most of these women in that she was considered incredibly cute as a young teenager when she got her start, has a pretty level-headed view of the whole aging process. I was incredibly pleasantly surprised when Charlotte Rampling, maybe the hottest 57 year old on the planet appeared. I was unpleasantly surprised to see what Meg Ryan had done to her face. I’m not sure why Melanie Griffith was there–she’s not known for attacking acting parts with any particular focus. In the credits, we’re told that she offered her house for a meal. Jane Fonda speaks with the experience of someone in the business a long time, as does Vanessa Redgrave. Whoopi provides “my ass is huge now” type humor. European goddess Emanuelle Beart, in blonde hair, chain-smokes and discusses what it’s like to be the most beautiful girl in the world. The list goes on and on. Martha Plimpton, Samantha Mathis (if you can tell me their connection, win a prize), Ally Sheedy, Kelly Lynch, Laura Dern, goddess Holly Hunter, who seems to get better looking with age, Francis McDormand is caught in a bathroom, we see Jennifer Beals, but don’t hear from her, and finally, Debra Winger herself. Winger looks good and relaxed at her upstate New York home. She did sort of disappear after Urban Cowboy and Officer and a Gentleman. She tries to explain this to Arquette.

Arquette is a good conversationalist. Nothing like an interview takes place. Arquette has no trouble interrupting, except with Fonda or Redgrave, maybe. Her sister is a participant, as is Julia Ormond, a former member of the “Next Big Thing” club.

People I missed: Susan Sarandon is still incredibly sexy, smart, and can play anything. Julianne Moore would be nice to hear from because she’s brilliant and in that in-between stage of her life. We didn’t need to hear from Meryl Streep because she was never hired because she was hot, I don’t think. Glenn Close, same story. Plus, they continue to work.

Only one man is interviewed. Mr. Ebert. At Cannes. He is someone who could really offer insight into this issue as, like me, he continues to tell people how much sexier experienced, older women are. But it seems like Arquette caught him on a bad day, or maybe after a few glasses of wine. He isn’t his usual smart self and ends up remarking that Arquette is sexy without any analysis of the problem. I’m glad there was one “Y” chromosome.

Upon further review, it’s a strange thing to listen to incredibly beautiful women, who have made millions of dollars bitch about not getting the parts they once did. Women lose opportunities to younger women in every field every day. Actresses aren’t that different than nurses or managers or teachers. And everyone tries to chase youth. Just don’t end up looking like Griffith or Ryan.

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AFTER LIFE
1998

July 26, 2005
DVD
Japan
Japanese
118 minutes

What Is The One Memory You Would Take With You? — AFTER LIFE.

After they die, people are processed by bureaucrats who allow them to take one memory of their life, in the form of a film re-creation, into eternity.

An absolute gem. Sweet natured through and through.

The story is simple. In a run-down, though still somewhat charming building, Monday mornings are the days that all the people who have died the previous week check in at the front desk and are assigned a sort of “memory counselor” to help them pick the one thing that they want to remember for all of eternity. They must pick this memory by Wednesday. The memories are filmed on Thursday and Friday, and on Saturday, the dead people watch this film before they are taken away to the “next step.” The following Monday, it starts over again.

What makes it great is the matter-of-factness of the surroundings, coupled with the description of the memories, during these lengthy interview processes, which are so heartfelt that they make me think (prior to looking it up online) that many of the participants were amateurs simply recalling a time in their past that made them happy.

The clients are mostly old, but there are a few who died too young, perhaps before any specific meaningful memories could be experienced. The older ones remember things you might expect, but they are all so sweet. A World War II veteran remembers the kindness of an American soldier who gave him a cigarette, rice, and some chicken when he was all but starving to death. An elderly woman who never married simply wants to remember cherry blossoms falling in the wind. Another older woman remembers the day of a big earthquake, sleeping in a bamboo forest and swinging between two bamboo trunks while her mother served her rice balls. These memories are so vivid to them–all but written on their faces as they recall them for the counselor. A woman of 85 or so remembers specific parts of her life when she was six and had a new red dress and how she performed a dance for her brother and other friends. She remembers it like it was yesterday.

These interviews take place in rather cold rooms, which hold only chairs and a table. And a couple of plants on the window sills. This building doesn’t look like its changed from the 1950s. Each dead person is given a single room in which to stay, with just the bare essentials–a single bed, sink, desk. No one seems to mind. The counselors can spend a lot of time with the dead person, making sure they pick something meaningful, asking questions, getting deeper into their lives. One teenage girl starts out by wanting to remember a day at Disneyland, but after her counselor tells her that more than 30 others have picked the same memory, she re-evaluates what she wants to take with her to eternity.

There is a boastful older man who speaks of visits to brothels and a woman in Northern Japan who knew exactly how to make porridge. He would often forget to call his office in Tokyo, so smitten was he with her. Will he take the memory of a sexual conquest with him to eternity?

But what if you can’t or won’t pick a single memory to represent the entirety of your life? A man of 71 doesn’t think he has any memory “good” enough to take with him. His counselor gets on the phone and orders a videotape for each year of his life. He sits down to watch. As a youth, the man is afraid his life won’t amount to much. He wants to leave proof of his existence behind. He sort of goes through his entire life afraid of not making an impact and in the end, this is what happens.

The fact that the counselor can pick up the phone and call someone and have them duplicate a person’s life is one of the joys here. It isn’t a futuristic place where every wish is fulfilled. The counselors refer to a small library for reference about the hotel in which a former beauty remembers having a romantic rendezvous. There isn’t a computer to be seen here. Nor a TV or any other modern convenience. You can believe that the memory counselors have been using this facility for years.

Once a memory is chosen, a team of filmmakers sets about to recreate it. Again, this isn’t ILM making a perfect copy of a memory. It’s carpenters and craftsmen doing their best with limited resources. A man remembers a flight in a Cessna, but all the staff has is a Piper and they must make changes to the wing design.

However, the smile on the faces of each participant when they see the recreation is fantastic. A man smiles after the filmmakers play him a cassette of his memory’s background noise, which takes place on a street car saying “Yes, it’s perfect”. The pilot’s memory looks a bit rinky dink to us, with the cotton balls being pulled on wires past the windshield, but to him it couldn’t be better. Again, either these dead people are just off the street amateurs, or maybe they’re real actors asked to recall a memory. Their faces don’t betray how happy they are to see a memory they didn’t think they’d see again.

It got me to thinking about what single memory I’d take with me. I don’t have an answer. It also discusses when people have their first memory–could it be in the womb?

What of the staff at this facility? Why are they there? They are also dead, but in a kind of purgatory. They need to be supportive with their clients, but can’t get too attached. Come next Monday, they’ll each be given 3 or 4 more dead people to help through the process.

The pace is slow. A member of the staff remarks that she’s reading the Encyclopedia Britannica, because now she has all the time in the world. Everyone wears the same clothes every day. The rooms are run-down, but everyone is satisfied. The dead people interact with each other–discuss the difficulty in picking a memory.

Just dream-like and perfect. Quiet and uplifting.

Start picking your memory. You may be asked to choose sooner than you think.

**** Halliwells
**** Ebert
***^ Maltin
*** Berardinelli

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RUPERT MURDOCH’S WAR ON JOURNALISM
2004

July 23, 2005
DVD
USA
English
78 minutes

Cheaply made documentary that lays out just why Fox News is dangerous and not just asinine. Obviously it was preaching to the choir with me. One of the things that I found interesting was the voice-altered former reporters, so afraid of reprisal that they were bodiless voices. They had good inside baseball knowledge of how the operation works. I never get tired of hearing someone (read: Bill O’Reilly) say they did something once, and then we seet footage of it happening over and over again. A good sub-story is the son of a Port Authority worker, whose father was killed on 9/11 appearing on O’Reilly’s show and the argument that took place.

Every time the documentary shows the famous Fox logos WE REPORT, YOU DECIDE or FAIR AND BALANCED, you’ll snicker to yourself. The usual suspects act as talking heads. Funny story about a reprimand a reporter received by not reporting on the widespread celebration taking place on Reagan’s birthday at his library. There was one elementary school field trip on hand. That was it. No great outpouring of feeling or emotion.

If you think that Fox News makes you stupider, the longer you watch it, you won’t hate it any more than you already do.

5.8 Metacritic

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1977

July 23, 2005
DVD
USA
English
85 minutes

Has several things going for it. You get to see Lou Ferrigno as a young man, you see the ridiculous styles that people used to wear around the bicentennial. Check out Arnold’s red, white, and blue, huge-collared shirt. Of course the main attraction here is my governor, Arnold Schwartzenegger. He may be single-handedly trying to ruin my favorite state, but he really is far and away the most compelling person in this documentary about bodybuilding. He seems nice, boastful, nervous, and completely full of charisma. It is also proof that his English has not improved in any noticeable way since 1977. He psychs out Lou before a big competition. He smokes a joint and flirts with women. This film is a pretty cool time capsule.

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2005

July 22, 2005
PBS — P.O.V.
USA
English
83 minutes

fascinating documentary about the 2002 election for Mayor of Newark NJ. The election pitted an Barack Obamaesque young, educated candidate, Cory Booker against an established, old-school incumbent named Sharpe James. The director began by filming both sides of the campaign, but word spread that he was on Booker’s side, and from that point on, he was detained by police and had his camera lens covered whenever trying to film campaign appearances by the mayor. We hear of intimidation by the mayor whenever a Booker sign appears at a business. The police and firemen are seen tearing down Booker campaign signs, a body shop is visited by code enforcement the day after he hosts a coffee fundraiser for Booker. I mean, stuff was going on here that I didn’t know went on so blatantly in America. And I teach U.S. Government. A Booker campaign worker is spotted in line to enter a strip club and James uses this to accuse the man of soliciting a 16-year-old prostitute. When Clinton declines to pick a favorite, James still sends out fundraising literature with the two of them pictured together implying the endorsement.

I won’t tell you who wins, but Booker has a long and fruitful career in politics after this airs. The fact that James wasn’t brought up on charges is amazing. I wish all Newark voters could have seen this film before they voted back in 2002.

Eye-opening and a bit disheartening.

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(The Beat That My Heart Skipped)
2005

July 20, 2005
Camera 12 — San Jose CA
France
French / English / Mandarin / Russian
108 minutes

Tom is a small time hood moving into the lucrative profession of slum lord. He beats up people behind in their rent, he throws out tenants when he wants to sell tenement housing. His father also dabbles on the wrong side of the law in between new girlfriends. His mother, a pianist of some renown, has died. Things are going along swimmingly–he’s partying with hookers, doing coke in bathrooms, covering for philandering buddies–until a chance meeting with his late mother’s manager. The manager invites Tom to audition for him with the possibility that a tour could follow. We’ve heard Tom’s taste in music and it weighs heavily towards electronica. Through this manager we learn that Tom himself was something of a prodigy and with the encouragement of the looming audition, he again puts his energy into his piano playing. But his thuggy friends are no fans of classical music or Tom’s new hobby.

Tom tries to balance his two lives. Crime and Music. He devotes himself to practicing completely. Indeed, he only seems at peace when he’s playing, either in his home studio or at his Chinese tutor’s apartment.

The film was very well done. Tom is mostly id, beating people up and bedding women, but then in front of the piano he seems almost terrified. There are jumpy shots when he’s in some sort of dangerous predicament. When something bad is happening, we hear music only. Tom puts on headphones when the world is getting to be too much. Is the leather-clad ruffian a believable pianist? Maybe not. But there is no doubt that he takes his audition very seriously.

I’m told that Harvey Keitel was cast in the American version that was remade, for once, by the French.

7.4 Critical Consensus
7.6 Metacritic

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2005

July 19, 2005
Century Oakridge — San Jose CA
USA
English
141 minutes

I wanted to love it. The first Burton one was a big deal to me back when it came out. I’m a fan of origin stories. But something was off. I wasn’t engaged when we went back in time to see Bruce Wayne’s fear of bats show itself for the first time.

The good: I love when guys find out about gadgets. We see Morgan Freeman open case after case, explaining what the prototype does. The discovery of the Batcave was cool. Michael Caine is beyond reproach. Learning about the source of Wayne’s wealth was cool. Seeing him learn how to develop weapons, also cool.

The bad: Katie Holmes. The Scarecrow is not a compelling villain and his disguise and his “superpower” were lackluster. Liam Neeson isn’t either, although his reasons for villainy are somewhat understandable. The Batmobile was just wacky. The director did so many quick cuts that it was hard to tell where the thing was driving and who was chasing it. I wasn’t sure why the driver had to sometimes lie on his stomach to do some maneuvers. Christian Bale was a stud in American Psycho and other films, but he can’t pull this off. He doesn’t have the lower jaw necessary. But the biggest thing wrong, and the reason I won’t recommend it is that we never know who is fighting who. The camera spins and moves and never stays on anyone involved in any combat. Batman takes on 50 ninjas, but we can’t tell where he is, who is getting beat up, and what damage is being delivered. At no time did I really know where one person stopped and another began. It was ridiculous. Stop the cutting. People give Michael Bay shit about his editing, but at least you can follow along with what’s going on.

It’s summer entertainment, but I found myself bored knowing that that boredom wouldn’t be helped during the frequent fight scenes because they were too hyper-kinetic.

7.3 Critical Consensus
7.0 Metacritic

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2005

July 18, 2005
Camera 7 — Campbell CA
USA
English
119 minutes

Hide Your Bridesmaids — WEDDING CRASHERS.

A modern classic. Seriously. Hilarious. I love Vince Vaughn. I was no fan of Owen Wilson. But together they are perfect. Vaughn in perpetual fast-forward, and Wilson slowly drawling. They take bets on what bible verse will be read, they have names set up for any possible permutation of wedding, Indian, Chinese, Jewish, WASP. Rachel McAdams is a doll and a half as Wilson’s love interest. She is really something.

It’s not perfect and doesn’t take any deep thought to enjoy. But there are lines in here that will be enjoyed for decades. There are swear words and boobs. There are wacky family situations. There is a great montage of all the weddings they’ve crashed and how they sidle up to the bride and groom, at one point even cutting the cake with them.

This is one to have in the collection.

6.4 Metacritic

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2000

September 28, 2000
July 17, 2005
DVD
USA
English
122 minutes

A rock-obsessed teenager becomes a journalist so that he can get close to the musicians he admires.

** Halliwells
***^ Maltin
***^ Berardinelli
**** Ebert

8.8 Critical Consensus
9.0 Metacritic

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2005

July 17, 2005
Camera Cinema Club
USA
English
97 minutes

I’ve had nearly a week to digest this. And I’m still not sure if it’s merely good or fantastic. It’s like watching a dream. People move about and do things without needing to push the plot along. Gus Van Sant claims that it is inspired by Kurt Cobain, but not about him. As with all of the club films, I went in without knowing what the title was or what it was about. We see a scraggly guy walk through the woods, then take a swim, then piss in the river, then build a fire. He mumbles the whole time. We will never hear him hold an actual conversation. People talk with him around, they may even think they’re speaking to him, but he isn’t engaged and never speaks back. Blake lives in a run down mansion on a lake. Others sleep there and visit. We never see him with any “friends”. Just those who hang around with him. He nods off, wakes up, changes clothes, digs up drugs, puts on a dress, and runs away from a private investigator hired by his wife (read: Courtney). The style is such that the camera may not even be focused on what’s happening. When he digs up the drugs, and I’m assuming they’re drugs because we never see what’s in the cigar box, we see him dig and pull up something, then we cut to inside a bedroom where two new characters are sleeping while a kung fu competition is shown on a small tv. Blake is visible out their window, but they are sleeping. Why Van Sant picked that angle, I’m not sure, but it was well-composed.

We see Blake in the Smells Like Teen Spirit sweater, and we see the greenhouse which is the only part of the set that is a replica of Kurt’s real house, where he shot himself. Every time he went in there to get away from people or whatever, I was sure he’s be shooting himself any moment.

There are two specific scenes that made me happy. In the first, Blake, dressed in a dress and a fur-lined winter coat is running away from someone at his front door. He runs down some step–running may not be the right word–he doesn’t do much very quickly. He runs towards the camera, then to its left, then he trips and says “shit” or something and the camera which swooped left to see him, instead focuses on a green bush. He’s sort of fallen to the left of the camera. We hear him brushing himself off and mumbling, but the camera remains focused on the big bush. For five seconds, ten, fifteen seconds, I swear it was for a full minute, long after Blake has left the area. We just watch a bush as the sun peeks out from behind the clouds. It makes no sense whatsoever, but I was mesmerized.

The second and more powerful scene was when we see Blake, after his friends have left for the night, in the music room. He strums a guitar, playing the rhythm part, then the camera pulls back and he changes to bass, plays that line, puts it down while the soundtrack continues to play both instruments, he picks up another guitar and begins playing Nirvana-esque chords, he puts that guitar down also, and moves to sit behind the drums while the three instruments are playing continuously, then he hits the drums, goes over to the microphone and sings something, then picks up a different guitar and adds to the texture of the song that we’re hearing as we pull back from the music room. We’re now several hundred feet from the window watching him create a song in his head, though he can only play one instrument at a time. It’s the only time he isn’t completely lethargic. Another scene has him playing a song on an acoustic guitar and singing in relatively clear language. The camera pulls back from the music room so that he can be alone with his creation maybe. I don’t know. But to me it showed that in his mind, only the music was clear. He had the whole thing figured out, even though he could barely make himself cereal or mac and cheese.

Ricky Jay is in it, spinning tales about a Chinese illusionist. Kim Gordon shows up as someone who wants to take him away for treatment. Two Mormon’s show up to talk to his housemates. A yellow page salesman, played by a yellow page salesman, discusses advertising strategies to Blake as he falls asleep wearing a black dress.

This isn’t for everyone, in fact it’s probably not for most people. I saw it at the perfect time, 10:45 in the morning, when I was fresh and open to something. At night, this may be a fantastic sleep-inducer. I’m not sure that dozing would be that big an issue. The whole film is sort of “dozey”. It’s slow moving and nothing much happens, but I liked being there while nothing was happening.

Other stuff: Blake plays around with a shotgun, but since we know how it’s going to end, it’s not particularly scary. The final scene with his body lying in the greenhouse will be familiar to anyone who watched the live coverage on MTV when Kurt shot himself. Blake’s body is placed exactly like we remember Kurt’s. Michael Pitt does a great job. For a guy who started on Dawson’s Creek, he sure has turned his back on easy stardom. I didnt’ recognize him until mid-way through the film. He had his face covered with hair most of the time. Van Sant duplicates scenes. We see one thing happen, then two scenes later we see the same thing happen, but with a little more information given out.

The soundscape is amazing. Listening in this film is more important than seeing.

6.6 Metacritic

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(The Eye)
2002

July 15, 2005
Sundance
Hong Kong / UK / Thailand / Singapore
Cantonese / Thai / English / Mandarin
99 minutes

6.6 Metacritic

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(The Way Home)
2002

July 14, 2005
Sundance
South Korea
Korean
88 minutes

Enjoyable story of the brattiest boy in Korea going to visit his infinitely patient grandmother out in the country. No surprises, we know that there will be tears and growing, but still very effective. The grandmother is shriveled and humpbacked and can’t speak or write. The boy is attached to his Gameboy and longs for “Kentucky Chicken.” Not many subtitles. Kids will like it.

*** Maltin
7.0 Critical Consensus
6.3 Metacritic

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2004

July 12, 2005
PBS — POV
USA
English
57 minutes

Documentary which follows up the subjects of LITTLE PEOPLE, another documentary by the same director, Jan Krawitz. I’m pretty sure I saw the earlier film, though it couldn’t have been during the release year. There is some smiling-through-adversity here. There are tears and pride. The most interesting thing brought up happens pretty late in the film when the issue of having children comes up. Two little people have a 75% chance of giving birth to a little person. Should they? If a genetic test should be developed that can show in utero that a child will have dwarfism, should the mother carry the baby to term? No easy answers. The participants all seem to be okay with their situation. The everyday tasks that we do without thinking are time-consuming and tiring to them.

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2003

July 12, 2005
PBS
Philippines
English / Tagalog
103 minutes

Documentary about the former First Lady of the Philippines. Her rise from model to wife of Ferdinand Marcos. More than shoes. She had her strengths, but also a complete absence of awareness of her country’s suffering. The people seemed to love her, especially when she’d break into song at the drop of a hat. Good historical footage as well, especially the dated newsreels showing American imperialism.

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(Audition)
1999

July 9, 2005
Sundance
South Korea / Japan
Japanese
113 minutes

She always gets the part. AUDITION.

A middle-aged widower and TV producer auditions actresses as a means of finding a new wife, and gets more than he has bargained for.

Shockingly turn-away-from-the-screen graphic story of a lonely guy who goes about the process of finding a new wife after his son declares that he’s getting old. At first this seems harmless. Except for the fact that the film which he claims to be casting is a sham and he’s pretty much bringing in young women for a somewhat seedy purpose. He is smitten with one applicant pretty early. She is beautiful and a former ballerina. He also can’t substantiate any of her personal or professional references. But she always wears white and is soft-spoken and shy and beautiful. What could go wrong?

Fantastic static shots where stuff is happening in different focuses and distances from the center and around the outside. Slow moving story makes the shocks more shocking. If you can watch the last 15 minutes of this without turning your head, you are some kind of horror film stud. I couldn’t.

There is a montage of the applicants that proves that quick-edited montages are funny in any language.

It’s a story about objectifying women, even in the service of a good and decent man. I was actually okay with him holding the audition, thinking it a pretty creative way to change the way introductions are made. It was only after the film got scary that I realized just how sexist it is to be a middle-aged man, who invites 25 young, hot, artistic women under false pretenses, in order to woo one into becoming his wife. At least in the dating world, both parties are objectified.

* Halliwells
7.5 Critical Consensus
6.9 Metacritic

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2002

July 9, 2005
Showtime
USA
English
105 minutes

*** Maltin

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2005

June 30, 2005
HBO
UK / USA
English
94 minutes

Love can’t change what’s wrong in the world. But it’s a start. THE GIRL IN THE CAFE.

Comments No Comments »

2004

June 13, 2005
Sundance
USA
English

Comments No Comments »

2004

June 13, 2005
Sundance
USA
English

Comments No Comments »

2001

June 12, 2005
IFC
USA
English
91 minutes

7.3 Critical Consensus

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Written by Michael W. Cummins