I love to
laugh. If you say the same, then scour the video stores for ths
Japanese film. (Also for
Taxing Woman Returns
) What does the
title mean? Is she hard to get along with? Not especially; just that
the diminuitive star is, well, okay, a Japanese tax collector.
there she goes, off on her motorcycle, racing around Tokyo, keeping her
bright eyes tenaciously peeled for nefarious cheats, unprincipled
scoundrels, and whatever other wicked evaders she can get her brains
on! A little short on plot, but long on jolly good excitement and great
course, it's a real oldie.
We saw this years-old film the
other night. And it was as wonderful as ever. Remember Robert Duval,
the Godfather's suave consigliore? He has metamorphosized into Matt
Hammer, ex-alcoholic country singer. Hunt this one out and see it. Or
see it again. Beautiful performances, really nice rings-true script.
And as an added bonus . . . read the final credits and see who wrote
the songs and who did the voiceover on the singing. You'll be
3:10 to Yuma
one great flick! There's major action in the line of multiple killings,
a shoot-em-up finale that uses more bullets than
and plenty of mud, dirt, double-crossing sneaky rats, stage-coach
robbings, yellow-bellied cowardice, dynamite explosions, and some real,
genuine nobility. And it's all shadowed and nuanced with murky motives,
and backstories that grow longer as the film progresses.
Despite the Western-cliche format of the Noble Protagonist being driven
off his ranch by the Heartless Dudes from the Big-Money East, the film
shudders with solid emotion. Needless to say, this would be true of any
film starring Russell Crowe, who is one of the great actors of his
generation. Cast as a heartless killer, sugject to quicksilver mood
changes, glinting humor, and a smooth line talk, Crowe reveals the
character's three- (or four-) dimensional human heart. Why, actually,
did the rancher make his final decision? Why, really, did each change
of the outlaw's heart take place? I don't really know the answer. Can
you figure it out?
Of course, Christian Bale is no
slouch either, pally.
And one more side-note. There
really was a contemporary character named Ben Wade (the Russell Crowe
character), but he was no outlaw: Speaker of the House of
Representatives just after the Civil War, he was a passionate advocate
of equality and a fierce foe of slavery. How 'bout that! (
Cute, but thin. If you followed
the Herve comic strips, you'll absolutely love it. If not, you may not
be so impressed.
Tinker-Tailor-Soldier-Spy (Ver. I
mysteries. Really like the John le Carre books. Half in love with
Smiley. (Just leveling the playing-field here.)
BUT . . .
as with the
Lavendar Hill Mob
an Alec Guinness performance is an
utter spoiler for any subsequent version. It's not that the current
version is bad, it's just that the previous George Smiley is
As a matter
of fact, the Ver.II delineation of the other members of the
organization is much superior to other versions, even the written one.
(Must admit that I always had trouble keeping the characters straight
even when I read the book.) Thus it helped my feeble mind to have one
actor much taller, one much blonder, etc.
either the director of Ver.II had read something into the original text
that I had missed, or else he threw a big curve into the story line
toward the end of the film. Effective enough in the film, I guess
but it took a big liberty wth the arc of the story. Le Carre's
intent, as I saw it, was that spying the deliberate undermining
of people's faith in their relationship to what is right and wrong . .
. trafficking in betrayal takes its toll on the character,
draining out the vital juice that keeps us loving and loyal and sane.
with all due respect, the Chick's advice is to rent or buy the Ver.I in
its 3-part series and fall in love with Alec Guinness all over again!
Didn't enjoy it; wouldn't have missed
it! The hype says "riveting" and "stunning," but to me, the words
"gritty" and "grim" seem more appropriate.
As most of the world already knows,
"Traffic" follows three aspects of the drug trade: production,
distribution, and consumption, narrated through largely unrelated plot
lines. The quick cuts from one to next from unresolved scene to
unresolved scene were made more intelligible by the sunny
brilliance that illuminated the world of Don Cheadle's dogged stake-out
man and the fetching (if unprincipled) Catherine Zeta-Jones, the
dust-filtered sepia tones of all the Mexican episodes, and the grim
blue of Michael Douglas's DC scenes. Douglas, not my idea of anybody's
good Dad even at his most winsome, is massively wooden and chill, even
for him, and that serves the plot very well. Splendid (Oscar-winner)
Benico del Toro was the only character I ever warmed up to, and we
never know which side he's on until the last moments of the film. In
sum: Absolutely do see it, but don't expect to walk away smiling.
What can I say Disney. Treasure
Island set in space: Space ships with no air problems, shaped like
Spanish galleons; Motorized peg legs; Robot eyes under the sailors'
eye-patches; Cute anthromorphised globs for pets; Marooned Ben Gunn is
a dilapidated zany robot. Japanese-
-adorable faces with
extra-big eyes and no noses to speak of, except in profile. And plenty
of schmaltz. Other than that, it was not bad, with a nicely thought out
and sort of appropriate ending. But mostly for ten and under. Be
Read the book. Saw the
movie. Each was different. Both were good.
Backstory: Once upon a
time there was this gorgeous woman. And there was this fascinating
Dude. And they . . . only she was married to King Menelaus. So when
they ran off, Menelaus and his bro, Agamemnon, got together this army
and hired Brad Pitt to fight for them, and those guys went and . . .
only Troy had good defenses, so it took a long time. Also, in the
original, the Greek gods got into the act, but in the movie it was all
about politics and pillage.
So far so good. Another
sword and sandals epic and an excuse for beefcake and the occasional
lightly veiled dancing girl. Right?
Not quite. Brad Pitt
(Achilles) is a major fighting machine. Unstoppable. Only . . . every
time he kills off a dozen or so Trojans . . . you can see they are
really very dead. Maimed and all. So . . . although Zeus and Aphrodite
and the rest are not in the cast (or maybe because of that) it is the
audience who get a sort of Olympian view of the story. There are good
guys and bad guys on each side. We are not induced to want
side to win. Because we have no side. Or maybe we are on both sides. We
don't want to see Brad Pitt and our friends, the Greeks, get trashed.
But neither would we like to see our friends, the Trojans, such as the
noble Hector and his dad, the still gorgeous Peter O'Toole, get
trashed. Yeah, Olympian view. As in War is Ugly. And cruel. And a waste
of good men. And a way that crying women get deprived of their nice
husbands. And little kids get to have no Dads anymore. So we end up
with the thought that . . . hmm, maybe war really is what they say.
Under the Tuscan Sun
Say, I'm kinda getting into
one-word reviews, so here's another, this time of
romanticism (yeah, REALLY). Shameless destruction of the original
novel. Shamelessly gorgeous photography. Shamelessly gorgeous lovers.
Shamelessly sterotypically pure-at-heart-simplicity of the local
peasantry. And shameless pandering to every woman's desire to own a
glorious old house; to cook good gorgeous food without turning a hair;
to look cute in dirty work clothes; to have an always-loyal woman
friend who is never jealous of your successes and of whom you never
need be jealous; and then to end up as everybody's heroine and get a
handsome and romantic fella into the
Sure I cried
when she cried. Hey, it was dark. Nobody saw the Chick yield.
indeed. UP! That's the way this film will leave you. Anime' has come a
long way. The characterization may be broad, but it is effective. The
storyline may be zany, but it grips you. The laughs may be foolish, and
the pratfalls may be from four stories up, but this little film has as
much punch as a "real people" film.
So don't make the mistake of
thinking you don't want to see it because it's a
it's a zinger!
The Flick Chick Reviews New Films
More Film Reviews. Click the appropriate letter for films whose
titles begin with . . .
A few choice foreign films (subtitles)