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|5 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A hidden gem among so many performances on SNL's early years. A few
highlights from the show which stood out to me: Chevy Chase literally
phones it in, kind of acknowledging that he's left the show. Richard
Belzer steps in his place for the opening skit. Eric Idle premiers his
The Ruttles sketches before American audiences. KLOG's sketch makes fun
of AM/FM radio and is Ankroid at his best. Swine Flu jokes are
strangely pertinent by the Killer Bees. Joe Cocker sings "You are So
Beautiful" with half his shirt unbuttoned, and appears to wildly drunk
during the performance.
Until Hulu incorporates more of the old sketches, this is worth watching the full episode. Especially classic skits that time forgets.
"Bulworth" is almost always an under-appreciated film. Very few people take the spiritual aspect of song as a key to the meaning of the film, despite its direct references. Everything the Jay Bulworth character in the film says is positively true, and if you have qualms with the film's politics i would suggest thinking for yourself rather than criticizing an ultimately entertaining film. Yes, there are some elements of minstrel in Jay Bulworth's character. However, it is important to not overlook how the film overcomes stereotypes where other films fail; it presents eloquent and intelligent African-American characters who's roles are neither harmlessly entertaining nor needlessly threatening. By disarming these stereotypes of urban youth in south-central los angeles, the film is able to compliment what beatty calls for in the film. If bored, look for all the Manchurian Candidate references, and repeat review as necessary...
Nelson Pereira dos Santos' 'Como Era Gostoso o Meu Francês' (renamed
'How tasty was my little Frenchman' for its US release) is a good
example of the cultural centrism and the difficulties in translation of
the movement towards a new cinema. In it's realistic, non-judgmental
portrayal of 16th century Brazil, Santos is able to speak for people
who could never have spoken to us today. Yet the differences in culture
on the natives of that land are difficult to understand through the
lens in which history is written by its victors.
Santos' involvement in the cinema novo style is immediately apparent, as it manifests in photographic realism. The lighting in each frame looks entirely natural (and than likely it only uses natural light) and camera movement is limited if any happened at all. Sound is clear and loud, but the near absence of post-production sound effects immerses the viewer in voices and nature. The main exception to the natural style of the film is the occasional inclusion of tribal music in the background, which use some reed-type instrument that might not be accurate for the tribal theme.
The main obstacle for the viewer is a culture that they have very little concept of before the film. Unlike Hollywood films that sanitize their portrayal of native Americans with stereotypical clothing, Santos' rightly presents the native peoples' of Brazil as they were without clothes. At times the film looks more like an issue of national geographic than a fictional story. The indifference to the tribe's practice of cannibalism not only comes from the perspective of the tribe, but even the Portugese in the film act in apathy towards it. If anything, the film comes just short of glorifying cannibalism until it justifies the act through vengeful rights. Indeed the mistaken Frenchman too accepts his place in the history of the oppressed natives, and as our protagonist he leads the audience to accepting it as well. The marriage of the tribe's woman and the Frenchman parallels Brazil's past and future, but in some ways encourages that a co-existence is possible if tolerance can be given. All of these cultural differences form a boundary to the audience that can be broken down if one can accept the history of oppression and integrate them into the themes of acceptance in the film.
Luis Puenzo's 'La Historia Official' captures a moment in Argentine
history from the perspective less common for it's home audience; the
aristocracy. Inside the junta military (military rule) of Argentina
from 1976-1983 there were many like Alecia Marnet, with their upper
class stability and indifference to a rule that left them in power of
their own destinies. Alecia is somewhat different in her work as a
history teacher seemingly unaware of how history is written by the
victors. Her subsequent change of heart parallels that of her country,
without which change this film could never have made.
There are plenty of compelling stories within 'La Historia Official' that sensitively portray the atrocities suffered by the Argentines at the hand of their own rulers. When Alecia is told of the uncharged detention and torture of her high school friend in a first hand account could hardly believe that such horrors could be committed by those who helped her family build a good life. She dismisses her students' news articles and pleads for peaceful renewal in the country, even threatening to expel them for questioning the official history accounts. Alecia at first reacts in denial to these challenges to authority in protection of herself from feeling guilt and shame for having benefited from others' suffering. It is entirely necessary for her to take the experience personally, through finding her daughter's true identity, for Alecia to accept and then come to terms with her own and her nation's true identity. This psychodrama is furthered by her own husband's opposition to the truth; his definition of success is motivated only when he is recognized with respect. As Alecia finds her husband's own family cannot respect his work, and she in turn can no longer respect him for his deceit, she in turn becomes one of the people before Argentina frees itself from its fascist rulers.
There's much to love in any film made about the people like those who are making it. 'La Historia Official' may not represent anything distinctive technically from other films, but its story is a powerful tribute to its own country. The film however is entirely universal. Had the film taken place in fascist Spain or any other fascist ruled country, the only differences would probably be cultural and historical. Through Alecia we find the ability to learn the truth and rise in opposition within ourselves. 'La Historia Official' shows us the truth lay dormant within ourselves but should not be ignored for the sake of accepting the history we are told.
The first feature length film from the documentary film team of Director Chad Friedrich and Paul Fehler, `Jandek on Corwood', drives itself on the principle laid out by one of its star commentators Dr. Demento; the mystery of this elusive recording artist is `more interesting than the music itself'. Following the musical legacy of the prolific and legendary (if non-commercial) recording artist calling himself Jandek, releasing his own records in short supply on the ambivalent sounding Corwood Industries imprint, the film seeks to trace a story out of his 33 albums recorded over the last quarter century. Featuring record reviewer and obscure recording fanatics alike giving their arm chair psychoanalysis of an artist that only a select few of them have ever even had correspondence with, the film captivatingly pulls us into the history of an artist that very few of us would ever have been exposed to in any other way. `Jandek on Corwood' is a touching tribute to the unaccredited and misunderstood artist that can never appear in his own film. None the less, Jandek (a name amalgamated from others by the artist) is the unseen star of this film. His music is the natural soundtrack that the film circles around. Jandek's music has been called childish, trance-like, detuned, 5-string blues, which becomes `frightening.because it's honest'. At first the atonal harmonies and free associated crooning of a alienating quality leave the audience disillusioned to the talent of the prolific musician. However, as the film progresses and differing sounds are experimented with, Jandek becomes an inspiring (if depressing) talent whose unappreciated gift becomes known only to us through his mysterious avoidance of publicity (itself a seemingly artistic choice or principal that the film is careful to take note of). Our only guides on the screen outside of the artists' music become the few who appreciate his work. Music reviewers, radio hosts (such as Dr. Demento), art professors, intrigued journalists, and the isolated fans of Jandek's work become sources of scattered information, appreciation, and speculation. When it comes to Jandek, we are told, you `have to talk about other people's interpretations' in the lieu of an absent artist. Many of these devoted fans initially projected an iconography upon Jandek that transitioned from `anti-social to social, even on a minimal scale' as his releases progressed. `There's art here that's not representational' one critic contends, while still others suggest that `The appeal.is that it's unappealing'. Indeed, our unseen star becomes the object of intrigue and speculation on our own parts after seeing and hearing the commentaries of those on screen. To help aid the viewer imagine Jandek's world speculated on by others and projected by his music, director Chad Friedrich goes out of his way to film beautiful and sometimes frightening imagery to match the music playing on the screen. His gorgeous photography of rural Texan property set to sunset and moonlight paint portrait ready pictures matching the isolation heard in some of Jandek's songs described as a `33 volume suicide note'. Other times we watch seat stiffening camera truck across a maddening green lit hotel room littered with rolls of 4-track tape and bloody sheets as we hear his maddest works. Some of the best shots make use of the only photographs of the artist that exist on the album covers, using the usual camera pan across photos and advertisements. Even still shots of old town America take a turn for the strange creepiness, now projected not only in Jandek's music but on film as well. While `Jandek on Corwood' itself follows many of the conventions of documentary filmmaking down to the traditional subject chapter organization, Friedrich and Fehler must have spent many late nights planning the sequence on the film. Following a basic introduction of Jandek's history (Reviews, the recluse, albums and covers, advertisements and the label), the team moves us heavily into the draw of the film found in the artist's mystery. We move forward with personal accounts, uncovering the mystery that many of the fans would rather to never know, and developing periods of Jandek's recordings. The climax is built towards the dark reenactment of the only recorded interview with Jandek, which answers so many of the questions the personalities speculate about earlier in the film. Fittingly the film ends with a legacy to carry on, with an in depth discussion of his iconography and the so-called `last songs' they anticipated, only to find Jandek release yet another recording with a `last song'. `Jandek on Corwood' is an enjoyable operetta to an artist we will never know or truly understand. Its stars on screen do their best to explain their treasured enigma that many of the viewers could have been made aware of if not for the film. Chad Friedrich and Paul Fehler make what every documentary film ought to be like in `Jandek on Corwood'; they capture our attention with something we would never have learned about elsewhere. Whether the reclusive artist is conceived by accident or design, `Jandek on Corwood' sheds light on a previously scarcely known artist, that many of us can't help but proudly hide after we add it to our record collections, and makes the movie as much of a must see as the records are a new must find for the audience.