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The Flick Chick
Here are some good (and not-so-good) films. Probably not in any of your nearby theaters, but very likely in your video store. They're labeled, good, pretty good, and some we can live without. If you hate my picks, write me a nice letter and defend your opinions. Or not, if you prefer. In any case, the snack bar remains open. . .
Not kitsch. Not cloying. Not overdone. Not resistable. If you haven't seen it, see it. If you haven't seen it again, see it again. To be truthful, the Chick has never been wild about the flying-bicycle scene (it strained the willing suspension of her disbelief) but she's sufficiently wild about the rest of E-T to make up for it! (3/21/02)
The Emperor and the Assassin,
If you like Oriental flicks, let me mention this visually stimulating film, which is now on tape. Not at all a kung-fu picture, it deals with political murder and betrayal in ancient times, plot and counterplot, secret within secret. Although its pace is a little slow at times, the acting and filming are excellent, and there are several deeply interesting minor characters. At one point, I was so taken with the play of expression on the face of one actor that I had to re-run that segment because I had forgotten to read the subtitles! One of the stars, the very beautiful Gong Li, was also in Farewell My Concubine. (10/00)
The Emperors' Club
School. Brilliant teacher. Rebellious, but brilliant student is saved
by dedicated educator . . . only not quite. And then, of course . . .
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
much for Jim Carey. Not a rabid fan of Kate Winslet. Do love SF though.
What is there about speculative fiction that sets us . . . speculating?
Moore has produced a sobering and scarey film. If you intended to see
it, you've doubtless seen it by now, if you don't intend to see it . .
. you won't. Either way, you're familiar with the film's content and
whatever your own feeling about the subject, you are aware that the
content takes a fervent political stand.
Far From Heaven
Set in 1957-58, this lushly shot film
pulls out all the stops on a story that deals with the emotional
tangles of both gay (Dennis Quaid's) and interracial (Julianne Moore's)
love affairs. Told very much from the woman's point of view, it
movingly portrayed the cruelty that marked race relations at the
mid-century point. However, according to what little I know about the
social stigma evoked by gay behavior in the fifties, it downplayed the
difficulties that would have been faced by the typical "Organization
Man" that Dennis Quaid portrayed.
The Fast and The Furious
Not long ago, I got tired of not knowing what the word jejune means, so I looked it up. I'm glad I did because that knowledge now provides me with the perfect descriptive adjective for this film. Plot development, characterization, motivation, and story resolution were uniformly, yes, meager and unsatisfying. Its saving graces were few: good-looking cars; good-looking ingenues (male and female); and the very compelling star presence of the appropriately named Vin Diesel. See it only if you are mad for cars. (7/01)
This lovely film is now on video. There are touching performances by the principals and by the charming children who played their younger selves, but the real power of the story lies in the contrast between the narrowly political world of theater and the frightening violence of China's outer world. A fascinating aspect of the film is its glimpse into the rigorous (not to say cruel) training that groomed performers for Chinese opera. An unexpected side benefit was that, although my ear is completely untrained in the very different tonalities of the music and singing in the film, by the end of the narrative, I could actually distinguish between the protagonist's voice and the less pleasing singing of the Communist Party patriot who replaced him!
The other night,
two great classic films directed by Federico Fellini (1920-1933) ran
back-to-back on Turner Classic Movies:
and his brilliant
They are arguably among Fellini's greatest, and he
was the top of the tops. Both were shot in B&W, very grainy & w/bad
production values by today's high standards, but they are immensely
The Fifth Element
Gotta say that this is one of my fave films: Bruce Willis, in his persona as master of derring-do (flying taxicabs upside down!); a beautiful avatar, hulking wart-hog types with fancy guns, wonderful BEMS in general, including a fantastic 8-foot-tall blue semi-serpent that sings opera like you never heard, super baddies, gorgeous goodies . . . all the elements you could desire. Oh yes!
Curiouser and curiouser there were moments when you almost forgot it was an anime you were seeing. It was a very beautiful production and visually compelling (and I do have a weakness for fantasy), but the characters were (pardon the obvious) entirely bloodless, the plot was same-old same-old SF Nebulous-fantasy-evil and Save-the-world-with-Soul stuff, complete with the gunner who dies fighting. And the final World-is-saved-now scene was obviously patched together out of leftover graphics from The Fifth Element . See it? Sure. Enjoy the aesthetics. Pay no attention to the story. (7/01)
This close-to-historical fictional portrayal of the Lafayette Escadrille really captures the courage, the fears and hopes of the young American volunteers who went to France to learn to fly near-suicide missions during World War I. The story line may be well-worn and predictable, but the emotion it evokes is fresh as the young faces on the screen. Go with your kids. Go with your buddy. Go with your honey to this charming and enjoyable film. (10/06)
certainly Julianne Moore's film, and she does with it pretty much as
much for it as could be expected. If you like chase scenes, this has
chase scenes. If you like emotion, this has emotion. If you like
bullet-proof guys, this has a bullet-proof guy. If you like a big sell
for Mother Love you're in luck on that score, too. (Although
personally I think you should not count out Father Love, buddyolas.)
But if you are looking for a really big PUNCH in the punch scene . . .
you might be just a tad disappointed.
the central character of the film is as described in the title, but to
judge by the dialogue they're none of them over twelve years old,
because you never heard so much sixth-grade-dirty-talk in your life!
And as to its portrayal of women . . . oh gag me with a spoon!
This is a great flick for history buffs and for all those who Remember When. Not especially flattering to either protagonist (the Chick kept looking at "Frost" and thinking "Tony Blair"), and there are those who remember the interviewer as something less of a lightweight. It is certainly a powerful and somewhat sympathetic portrayal of Nixon although there are still those who remember him as less vulnerable and more menacing siccing the IRS on those who made his Enemies List. And of course some still consider Nixon a great statesman. Whatever your age or your politics, there's plenty of built-in suspense and a couple of surprises which may or may not have been authentic. Anyway, Frost-Nixon is one to see. (2/09)
More Film Reviews. Click the appropriate letter for films whose titles begin with . . .
A-B # C-D # E-F # G-H # I-J # K-L # M-N # O-P # Q-R # S # T-U # V-W # X-Y-Z
A few choice foreign films (subtitles)