Archive for July, 2006

2000

June 30, 2000
December 19, 2000
July 12, 2006
DVD
USA / Germany
English
130 Minutes

My third time watching. I’m not sure why I was in the mood to watch this again. This was one of my favorite book, back when the outdoorsy thing was sweeping the literary world. They certainly overact in this one. Even goddess Diane Lane has some bar-chewing scenes. And both the swordboat captains have to act opposite a marine radio while moving into a closeup. Not easy.

It was exciting and sad. And I barely started the DVD extras, including demi-god Sebastian Unger’s full-length commentary. The facts in the book about other boats and wave height and the like were fabulous. I hope he drops knowledge the whole way through.

5.9 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

July 12, 2006
PBS Frontline
English

Approximately half a million women are trafficked for the purpose of sexual slavery each year.

~~

Comments No Comments »

(Zui Hao De Shi Guang)
2005

July 11, 2006
San Jose CA — Camera 12
France / Taiwan
Mandarin / Taiwanese
120 Minutes

I was hoping for something along the lines of IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE or some other unrequited Asian love story. What I got was nearly a two-hour nap. The two actors, including one of the most beautiful women in the world, Shu Qi, are in three separate stories taking place in three time periods. 1911, 1966, and 2005. Shu has completed the rarest of career jumps. She used to be an adult model. I mean all the way. Google search her under “Hsu Chi”. How do I know this? I have this friend…

The first one, A TIME FOR LOVE, is sweet. Shu plays a poolhall girl who plays pool, fills tea cups, and lights cigarettes for customers while dressed extremely conservatively. Chang Chen is the male lead in all the stories and in this one, he plays a young customer who leaves from time to time to complete his army duty. Shu moves on to different poolhalls while he’s gone. Chen tries to find her. We watch road signs announce all the towns he goes through on his way to finding her. When he finally does, she can’t stop smiling. He waits the two hours until she gets off work, the two get dinner, then they wait for his bus as he has to be back on base the next morning. They are shy and quiet around each other and they have the second most romantic hand-holding scene that I can remember. (The first was when Jordan Catalano grabbed Angela Chase’s hand in the hallway, in front of the whole school in MY SO-CALLED LIFE). This first, incredibly sweet story would prove to be the best of the three. I now wish I would have left after it, or perhaps, seen an entire film based upon the two of them in 1966.

Second. 1911. A TIME FOR FREEDOM. Shu is a singer in a concubine house. She loves Chen, but he doesn’t love her and girls come in and out of the house for different clients. At least I think so. This one was impossible to stay awake for. To make matters even more difficult, there is no dialogue. Only music and title cards tell us what the characters are saying to each other.

Third. 2005. A TIME FOR YOUTH. Shu is a bi-sexual club kid with tattoos to prove it. Chen is an aspiring photographer who works at the photomat. They go dancing, Shu sings once in awhile. She spends most of this section pouting. She is gorgeous but dead. She sleeps with Chen, but doesn’t seem to enjoy it.

I like to think I’m a snob, but it’s films like this where I realize just how large a disconnect there is between me and my tastes and the tastes of snobby critics. This film was selected by a group of critics last year as the best undistributed film. To read someone I respect’s rave (Jonathan Rosenbaum) here. It was visually stunning and the use of a single pool hall in the first story was minimalist, but not claustrophobic. But nothing much happens.

8.0 Metacritic
**** Ebert

~~

Comments No Comments »

2005

July 10, 2006
DVD
USA
English
128 Minutes

Everybody Wants One — HAPPY ENDINGS.

Very disappointing. Way too clever for its own good with text on the side of the screen to help tell the story. Kudrow is dour and Bradford is wacky. The only thing that got me through was watching Maggie Gyllenhaal and Tom Arnold fall in love. Or do they. She’s got that extra something and she got to be slutty in this film. Great cast wasted.

5.7 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

July 10, 2006
Saratoga CA — AMC
USA
English
105 Minutes

Pick A Side — THE BREAK-UP

Cinebanter Podcast Review Coming Soon.

4.4 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2005

July 6, 2006
DVD
USA
English / ASL
115 Minutes

Every Life Has A Story. And Every Story Has A Life Of Its Own — NINE LIVES.

Extremely compelling collection of intertwined, short stories. A fabulous group of actresses including Glenn Close, Robin Wright, Kathy Baker, Molly Parker and Ian McShane from DEADWOOD, the teenage girl from BIG LOVE, Amy Brenneman, and a bunch of others. Oh yeah, goddess Holly Hunter as well. All of the stories seem to connect with every other story. A woman in prison, a chance meeting in a supermarket, an awkward dinner party, a funeral, etc. It seems to work. The short portion in the supermarket with Robin Wright Penn and Jason Isaacs was particularly memorable. They tell us everything we need to know about their past using only their faces and a few lines of dialogue.

A fantastic technical part of the film was that each of the nine vignettes was filmed in a single steadycam shot. That means in some cases we’re following characters as they walk, in some cases we are watching the person listening, not the one speaking, and the timing for entrances and exits has to be perfect. We seem to circle the actors as they go about their daily lives. There were probably some flubbed lines, but that only made the scenes more natural. This is so rare in films today. It is perfectly on display right away, during the first story when a prisoner is calmly mopping the floor, then noticing the clock, rushes through corridor after corridor showing her pass, until she ends up at the visitor’s area where her intercom phone doesn’t work. She changes from calm to livid-crying at the drop of a hat. This is after 13 minutes or so of single-take acting and action and dialogue.

Worth a look.

8.0 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2004

July 6, 2006
PBS — P.O.V.
USA
English
81 Minutes

Artist Henry Darger dealt with his wounds of childhood abandonment and abuse by producing a novel on the exploits of the Vivian Girls.

Jessica Yu directed. She’s a goddess. And this documentary isn’t bad either. A loner, who seems to have been noticed by exactly six people, dies in 1973 and in his tiny one-room apartment are hundreds of paintings and a 15,000 page novel that Henry Darger was working on. His complete invisibility to society is humorously portrayed in the way that none of the interview subjects can agree on where he sat in church or even how to pronounce his name.

He worked his entire life in Chicago hospitals as a janitor, but would return home to enter perhaps the richest internal life ever captured on film. Excerpts of his book are read while his paintings are animated. His epic revolves around a holy war between god-fearing Catholic little girls and the heathen tribe from another imaginary island. The bad guys are hoping to enslave the perfect little children.

It’s not as creepy as it sounds.

The voice-overs are well done by both a man reading the book, and a little girl who is describing Henry’s life. He left behind just three photographs.

Mesmerizing.

7.4 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

July 4, 2006
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English
94 Minutes

Famous people and not-so-famous people solving the New York Times crossword puzzle.

Full podcast review coming soon to Cinebanter.

7.3 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

June 22, 2006
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
Hungarian / English
116 Minutes

Not Pixar’s best, but still beautiful. Seems to me that it might be boring for kids. How many of them understand the idea of a Route 66?

7.3 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

June 22, 2006
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English
105 Minutes

How Do You Hold On To Someone You’ve Never Met? — THE LAKE HOUSE.

Man, have I gotten a lot of crap on this one. Here’s what I want to say: it could have been so much worse. It should have been so much worse. I liked it. But I’m a sap, I guess.

The plot, such that it is, revolves around Dr. Sandra Bullock, who moves out of her beloved lake house (which is made entirely of windows it seems) with her dog. She puts her forwarding information in the mailbox with a note welcoming the new owner. She used to have a type-A boyfriend and they still talk.

Then we see Keanu Reeves, who is the son of the house’s architect drive up in a beater pickup truck. Reeves is clearly a smart person who turned his back on theoretical building in order to actually build housing developments. At the work site he is pursued by a ditzy secretary. Anyway, he pulls up and opens the mailbox and finds the note that Sandra left.

Here’s the thing: Keanu is living in 2004 and Sandra left the note in 2006. If you can’t get past that one huge plot point, then don’t go. They argue through the mailbox about the date. They both end up somehow with the same dog. Keanu drives to Sandra’s apartment building to drop something off, but it hasn’t been built yet. She remembers the blizzard of 2004 and she puts a scarf in the mailbox which he puts on despite the warmth of the day and then marvels when the flakes begin to fall. She mentions missing the trees that grew at the lake house, so he plants one in front of the vacant lot that will become her apartment building.

Don’t try to figure it out. Just play along. It doesn’t suck. Both actors have matured and are no longer young hotties. They do pretty well with the material.

There is no doubt about which possible lover they should each be with. But how can they meet? The writer finds a way, even though much of the film is about them conversing without being on the same time-plane.

Just to make myself sound even more wussy, I remember a Hallmark Hall Of Fame presentation where a guy (I think Campbell Scott) goes antiquing in New England and brings home an old desk. As he’s restoring it, he finds a hidden drawer full of letters which a woman wrote to an unnamed lover. For some reason, he writes one back and hides it in the cubby hole. And she answers.

I liked that one too. I guess I’m a sucker.

5.2 Metacritic
***^ Roger Ebert (so there!)

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

June 22, 2006
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English
100 Minutes

Nothing Is Scarier Than The Truth — AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.

Documentary about Al Gore and his powerpoint presentations that he gives at home and abroad. Should have been two docs: one about Al Gore and his rise to political “glory” and one that is strictly about global warming. His presentation is pretty cool, but we don’t gain much from it being filmed.

This Al Gore could have won the election. If I’m not mistaken, however, he did have a relatively high office for eight years where he might have addressed these same issues with a bit more force.

7.4 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2004

June 21, 2006
DVD
USA / Germany
English / Russian / German / Italian
108 Minutes

They Should Have Left Him Alone — THE BOURNE SUPREMACY.

In the Benandmatt “breakup”, I took Matt. I can admit that now. I just like the guy. The bad guy can be seen a mile away, and we know that our guy is smarter than their guys, but the ride is fun nonetheless.

7.3 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

June 11, 2006
San Jose Camera Cinema Club
USA / Canada
English
98 Minutes

Well-intentioned, but doesn’t hit the mark. An accountant gets laid off from his job. A full daytime of watching cable news has him convinced that the world is an incredibly dangerous place, with terrorists lurking behind every corner. That exact day a young, dark man with a funny accent moves into his apartment building. He uses a cell phone only. He rummages through trash at all hours of the day. He has few possessions and during a snooping run, our hero sees what appears to be laboratory equipment in the man’s kitchen. His paranoia increases on an hourly basis.

Peter Krause of SIX FEET UNDER fame is our protagonist. His wife thinks he’s being ridiculous and goes over to the new neighbor’s apartment brandishing flowers and a smile. But our hero will have none of it. A call to the FBI only makes him more suspicious.

It is a timely topic that needs a good film make about it. When citizens are encouraged to turn in their fellow citizens for any suspicious behavior, a great deal can be said about what’s happened to America. Unfortunately, this isn’t that film.

Krause’s acting is fine. But the jump from curious to convinced that a sleeper cell is living in his complex is shown way too quickly.

And the ending is ridiculous.

~~

Comments No Comments »

2004

June 3, 2006
HBO
USA / Australia
English / Dutch / French / Italian / Mandarin
125 Minutes

Twelve Is The New Eleven — OCEAN’S TWELVE.

Everybody is hot-looking. Everybody is smarter than the viewer. The plot involves some sort of robbery to pay back someone else who was robbed. Or something. That doesn’t really matter. Marvel in the ability of nearly a dozen big-time actors all hogging the screen at the same time. There are worse ways to spend two hours.

5.8 Metacritic
*** Ebert

~~

Comments No Comments »

2004

June 2, 2006
San Jose CA — Camera 12
Australia
English
106 Minutes

Love Can Turn You Upside Down — SOMERSAULT.

Story of a naive, though sexually-aware teenager who runs away from home after “playfully” seducing her mother’s boyfriend. She has no money and only empty promises from the men she comes in contact with. She ends up at a ski resort town and gets a job at a mini-market. She falls hard for a handsome local farmer boy. We watch her stumble from place to place barely keeping herself out of danger. She is slowly learning just how powerful her femininity is becoming. She is supposed to be around 16 years old.

The actress is played by some wacky combination of a hot Daryl Hannah and Nicole Kidman. She was simply mesmerizing. This is probably the best thing I’ve seen this year thusfar.

This film swept the Australian equivalent Oscars, winning 13 awards.

7.3 Metacritic





~~

Comments No Comments »

2005

June 1, 2006
PBS — American Experience
USA
English

Documentary about an ambush in Vietnam and a student protest at the University of Wisconsin.

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

May 21, 2006
Camera Cinema Club

~~

Comments No Comments »

2003

May 20, 2006
Sundance

8.7 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2005

May 20, 2006
DVD

5.8 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

May 10, 2006
Campbell CA — Camera 7

9.0 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2000

April 23, 2006
IFC

7.7 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

April 9, 2006
Campbell CA — Camera 7

7.6 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2005

April 9, 2006
Camera Cinema Club

5.8 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

April 7, 2006
HBO

~~

Comments No Comments »

2005

April 5, 2006
Campbell CA — Camera 7

7.1 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2004

March 30, 2006
Campbell CA — Camera 7

6.2 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2005

March 19, 2006
DVD

8.2 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2005

March 12, 2006
DVD

7.9 Metacritic

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

March 12, 2006
San Jose Cinequest

~~

Comments No Comments »

2006

March 12, 2006
San Jose Cinequest

~~

Comments No Comments »

Written by Michael W. Cummins