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Could have been great
It was great that somebody did this. For those who are very close to that scene and those times, it is probably interesting. But it focuses too much on the personalities that initiated techno. They're heroes, but no more so than the many people who've carried it much farther, or the fans with the open-mindedness and vision to bring it so far.
There's very little exhibition of the art, very little about the music. (One scene that shows us some gear, and a few shots of turntablism.) Which means that this movie is not for the uninitiated ... and that's disappointing. The movie many times seems to wonder why the music hasn't been more accepted, gone more mainstream.
But what this movie shows the casual viewer - I'm not sure it was intended - is that there's a lot *not* to like about the original scene... or about Detroit. (What's with the college prof rhapsodizing about an empty city?) My respect for what happened there (but not the music) went *down* after seeing the movie. All the more reason it's too bad it didn't focus on the music and the fans more. Because without them, all you got is prima donnas cruisin for props.
Gran Torino (2008)
They say that falling in love is wonderful
This movie is some kind of snake-swallows-its-own-tale cap for Eastwood's career. Somehow he manages, in the course of almost two hours, to work in every one of his famous facial gestures. Disgust, rage, threat, snarl: it's all there. That's one reason to love it. Cuz this movie is about Clint. Forget the plot, really: it's about those adoring Hmong ladies bringing him lots of plates of food. Now there's a hero: Love me.
Another reason to love this story is that the next door neighbor kid abandons an opportunity to be a gangsta. Not does he do that, in favor of the beloved *hard work* this country was built on, he learns how American males talk mano-a-mano. It's so CUTE!
Best of all, the movie's all about cars, our beloved cars. It's set in Detroit. Much of which is lying in ruins after what we called the American dream has awoken in ruins. With the auto companies on life-support, after what they did to us and their employees and the environment (see Michael Moore et al), thanks to the tax dollars earned by us hard-working, self-sacrificing Americans, we get a movie whose main inspirational symbol is an (ugly) US classic automobile. The only 'special features' on the DVD are about the car.
And that legacy gets handed on to the next generation in the end. Along with a great-big-dollop of self-sacrifice. Yeah, take what we've learned from cars and run with it, neighbors. Cuz we're at the end of the line here. You zipperheads.
What did Clint learn from a long life of heroically defending the good against the evil? I guess you'll have to see this film. Marvelous.
Hatachi no binetsu (1993)
The word "Slight" in the title fits. Thin acting, an equally thin plot line, and a string of vacuously elongated scenes make up this film, which demonstrates what happens when a director in-over-his-head meets a half-finished script and no-experience talents.
"Fever" -- which is supposed to suggest "hot", not "tepid" -- wants to be a morality play about two young hustlers. Tatsaru is a college student working as a male prostitute. Shin works in the same establishment, a bar whose clients choose from a stable of boys.
Aimed at a teen audience, apparently one motive of this movie is to distinguish for the audience the difference between sex for money and love. The film vaguely manages to approximate this, its only clear, idea ... then gives us two or three empty minutes to contemplate it.
Both of the boys are sought after by girls their own age. The father of one girl is a client of Tatsaru in mid-film. When Tatsaru later goes to her parents' home for dinner, there is nothing but the embarrassed "tension" between the two men to keep us interested ... for at *least ten minutes.
Another of the film's apparent motives: to establish that gay men are lonely, and that love between two men is hopeless. This sentiment -- uncontradicted by any of what passes for action in the film -- is spelled out verbatim by an drunken adult client toward the film's end in another of the stretched-beyond belief scenes. Many art films stretch action to good effect, but this film is just filling time.
I hated "Twist" when I saw it, but it was at least competent as a film. "Sudden Fever" can't begin to aspire to that level.
Another Gay Movie (2006)
Funny & smart
AGM could easily have been a flop, as many movies in its genre have been. But plenty of comic ideas, a refreshing sense of fun, hilarious sets, good acting and direction, and less attitude kept this film from the midpoint decay and low sustain that can hurt such films.
The director went for some hot action scenes which can be hard to pull off in a comedy. But the director made them work enjoyably without losing the comic energy. Eat your heart out, QAF!
I saw AGM as a part of Seattle's International Film Festival. The big audience very thoroughly enjoyed it. It's not Rocky Horror, but it might be a sleeper classic of a whole new thang.
The Celluloid Closet (1995)
Sometimes the truth hurts
Celluloid Closet is in fact a political documentary. That's the saddest part about this movie, because what it uncovers is a systematic history of scapegoating in early Hollywood film-making. Americans, overall a generous and tolerant people, have been taught for over a century to despise and fear queers and queer relationships. This movie is about the part of that campaign that was conducted in American film.
But CC isn't just a sad movie. As we see toward the end of the film, the attitude of Hollywood has shifted in recent years. People are slowly seeing past the hatred they've been carefully taught, seeing that queers are ... just people, people who love each other. People who love each other so much that they courageously hold onto that love despite generations of oppression from nearly all quarters of American society, official and unofficial.
Ultimately, despite the contemporary knee-jerk backlash, the wishes of GLBTQ people to enjoy rights taken for granted by all other American citizens will be granted. Americans will come to regret, as with Indians and Blacks, their record of hatred directed against people they have refused to understand. Understanding comes with knowledge, and Celluloid Closet is a key picture, treating its subject with great heart and courage.
The Horse's Mouth (1958)
Ageless, clever, endearing comedy
"Horse's Mouth" certainly stands up well in it's advanced age; at 45 years old it has remained as timeless as any of the great comedic films.
One IMDb writer has tagged Gully as a "vulgar" painter, which goes to show that the sensitivities this film violated are still around. Pinching your loving ex's bum and tickling the rich lady's knee (shades of Groucho), though, are pretty tame today.
Gully Jimson is a rich character, Chaplin-like, who single-mindedly pursues painting while disillusioning aspiring young Nosey about the artist's life. All growled on tiptoes by one of film's classic great actors.
Jimson is a man who's given up all else, including health, wealth, conventional relationships, to live in a leaky houseboat with a vision. But as the story develops it, like all great literature, manages to puncture almost all of life's rationalizing balloons. Jimson is valorized as is Don Quixote, without suggesting that his hero's journey is a painless one.
All is set in a colorful environment with a delightful if conventionally unpolished cast, all the improbably gleeful turns that make the Marx movies so delightful, and a director who contrives seamlessly with Guiness to create a clever and hilarious marvel that can be enjoyed over and over.
Heck yeah, there's even a chase scene! And pull your socks up!
The DVD version includes a short by Pennebaker that feels as fresh and contemporary, accompanied by a Duke Ellington tune, which played along with "Horse's" original release.
The Beach (2000)
Something happening here
The Beach seems to be striving to tell us something about an era. Our heroes go to an island in SE Asia where rather heavily armed native farmers are growing a boatload of pot. Once they get past that danger, they encounter something we're led to think is like paradise.
The farmers turn out to be capable of killing to protect their crop. They rationalize their aggression by pointing out that the profits feed their families. OK that's probably like the drug lords in SE Asia. And the paradise is full of sort-of-hippy types (a generation removed), so maybe the film is alluding to the Vietnam era? DiCaprio does a video-game-like scene where he goes crazy, which features some sort of tongue-in-cheek dialog from bad movies about Vietnam.
Phew. Hard to tell with this director, who seems to relish the disconnected sensations and dreamy mentations of multi-drug tripping.
Another interpretation might be this: America is like the pseudo-paradise, and the rest of the world, particularly the third world, is like the farmers, who agree to let the islanders have a paradise on their island world if they don't invite any more people.
Either the writers were grossly incompetent or they just wanted to point at a whole lot of things without resolving into any one thing. Or maybe the director just needed a vehicle to flash around some flesh and some dreamy scenery.
And then there's this third theory: the director is a Coen brothers wannabe. Yeah, I think that's it. Throw in a couple ideas from a Meatballs summer camp movie. And a scene quite a bit like one in Y Tu Mama Tambien. And a tribute to Jaws.
Like, maybe if we throw enough stuff at the audience, like Donnie Darko did, they'll dig it, they'll walk out dazed and confused.
This would be like a great drive-in movie by Ed Wood ... if there were any drive-ins left.
Oh heck, Dude, let's just go bowling.
The Sum of Us (1994)
Some of us almost missed this film
Given the blurbs and that the film is set in Australia, I wasn't expecting more than the average gay film. But "Sum" is a remarkable film; it puts "gayness" in perspective.
Not only the story of a couple of wonderful guys looking for love, Sum is a big slice of everyday life up there on the screen. Low-key it might be, but the film's endearing characters and big mistakes (of the sort we all make) keep it right up close.
Far from the relationship portrayed by Hanks and Gleason in "Nothing in Common", Harry and Jeff have a wonderful relationship. Almost too wonderful it seems, halfway through the film; but then "Sum" does something remarkable that carries it far above the surface.
It's too easy to take life for granted. And sometimes it's hard to see past the surface. "Sum" is wise about what matters, without having to paint anyone as a saint or demon. Not many films manage such loving and admirable economy.
I was supposed to get taken in
When I walked in, I wondered why the theatre was empty. I wanted to like this movie. Hey, Gary Farmer's a funny guy. I hoped to see something balanced, lifelike, with ups and downs. Instead what I saw was a "scared straight"-style, here's-how-bad-it-can-get cliché without any relief, either humorous or realistic.
I was supposed to get taken in by the comparison of this movie to Dicken's story. Except it was nothing like Dicken's story, except for the names and the squalor. The Victorian gentleman had a handle on reality; this paternalistic and uninspired film wants to paint everything outside the mainstream worldview as endlessly fear-driven and hopeless. It's as if the writers wanted to us to think that Dickens was a pollyanna and wanted us to know how bad things *really* are.
Do such awful things actually happen? For sure. Do -all- of these things happen to real people in the real world? No. Which makes Twist a horror film -- if that's what you're after.
Maybe someone wanted kids to know what they might face if they ran away from abusive homes to the big city. In that case, they should have found out what kids face -- verisimiltude anyone? -- instead of throwing together an orgy of dark imaginations.
The Bourne Identity (2002)
There have been an awfully lot of movies with spies in them. A few have managed to drop the shiny chrome and perfume glitz of the Bond series to reveal that spies are people.
The Bourne I watched is an anti-spy movie. You watch a man with amnesia (no smooth patter, no cocktails, no grey suit, no suave automobile, not even a coat) wearing a sweater with two bullet holes in the back try to discover what he did to discover those holes.
Jason discovers (with considerable horror) what and who he *was*. Yeah, he's not adverse to using his valuable training ("a 30-million-dollar weapon" his former boss calls him) in self-defense as the film throws him a series of deadly threats.
Throughout we see the human side of Bourne confronting the reality of his cool mechanical warriorhood ... a nightmare he's trying to wake up from. We see the event that changed his life uncovered.
There are some aspects of the Bourne character reacting to a nightmare reality that very much parallel the awakening of Neo in The Matrix. You could watch this movie simply as an action-paced suspense. But Bourne strives to unravel the carefully crafted seduction of the phoney Bond image. Here the suave, professional killer is recognized to be little better than a dehumanized junkyard dog, doing the bidding of its master, a completely amoral and disposable human being serving his master ruthlessly.