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Lost Killers (2000)
slow but sympathetic
8 February 2001
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this one recently, along with a few hundred other people at this year's Gothenburg Film festival. I guess most of us had an enjoyable evening, though not completely engrossing. The film is labelled as action/comedy, but to be honest it's only the latter part that really applies. The pace is, what critics call, deliberate - in other words, rather slow. But the characters, odd and flawed as they may be, gained my sympathy.

In short, 'Lost Killers' is about six people, living in a mid-size German city without any real prospects for the future.(I'll try not to deliver any real SPOILERS here, but the next piece of information might be considered one by readers who are looking for maximum surprise effect.) One is a vietnamese-born prostitute who has the peculiar ability of falling into a trance directly after intercourse. 'I get slapped a lot because of that' she explains early on to her newfound friend, a Haitian street musician who dreams of emigrating to Australia and is contemplating the idea of donating a kidney to raise the necessary money.Somehow their paths cross with those of two less-than-efficient contract killers, one Croatian and the other Georgian.The Croatian also has a girlfriend with a mind of her own, not to mention an old ghost-like mother who, according to doctors, should have deceased years ago... The main attractions here are the dialogue, which often is funny in a low-key but consistently bizarre way, and the personal interest we take in these natural born losers who just can't help hoping for something better in life. This is not a film for everyone's taste, but amusing for those of us with an absurd sense of humour.
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Closet Land (1991)
fascinating fairy tale
7 June 2000
The good news: the director is reportedly committed to the cause of Amnesty International and eager to deliver a solid message about the freedom of expression and the evil of oppression. The plot is distinctly original and the actors are two of my absolute favourites. The not-so-good news: 'original' is not everybody's buzzword when visiting the movies or video stores. Also, noted critics like Mr Maltin and Roger Ebert have dismissed the film as a genuinely failed attempt to convert a play from stage into cinematic form. If I remember correctly, the title is taken from the fairy tale Stowe's character has written and which has made her a possible subversive and suspect person in the fictitious place where the story takes place. Her dreams are dangerous to the government, represented here by Rickman as the intense, manipulative interrogator. Since those two people are virtually the only ones appearing in the film altogether, the director is in for a real challenge in keeping the viewer's attention. In the end, I found the whole thing fascinating. Not flawless and definitely not for everyone, but rewarding. It's nowhere near a masterpiece like Kieslowski's 'A short film about killing' or as explanatory as 'Dead man walking'. But if you're into those films or any of Costa-Gavras political thrillers, you may appreciate this one as well. Just don't expect any overexplicit sermons or eyefilling action sequences.
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daring but dull
1 June 2000
When reading reviews of this film(few as they seem to be)the word 'pretentious' is likely to come up, maybe along with 'pompous' or possibly even 'pornographic'. As for the latter label, I wouldn't use it that casually. But I still think the concept of 'baring all' has been taken a bit too far in the name of artistic licence.

The plot; female French(as far as I can tell) night club singer hooks up with soft-spoken Spanish artist and falls madly in love. But her happiness is marred by doubts - who is he really, and what is he hiding from her? Sounds truly original, doesn't it? In fact, the way it's executed, this film invites demanding viewers to smug, sarcastic remarks on a regular basis. But if you manage to stick with it till the end, there are some interesting revelations and even something resembling a plot twist.Unfortunately, the grainy look of the film and the female protagonist's voice-over narration in the form of a diary, will have a high percentage of the audience abandoning ship during the first hour.

The director is a recognized one in Europe. Or was, at least. Since the fairly entertaining 'Messidor' is the single previous work of his that I've seen, I can't say for certain if 'Lady M' is a typical sample from his catalogue. To me, it seems the leading lady Mezières scripted a narcissistic showcase for herself and asked Tanner to get on board and turn on the camera without interrupting or asking too many questions.

Mezières own efforts must to some degree be acknowledged as daring and she does have a stroke of personal charisma. But her attempts at passionate poetry fails because she's preoccupied with posturing. And the director lets her get away with it. Some clever editing, a shot of adrenaline and a healthy dose of humour wouldn't have hurt
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better acting than action
22 January 2000
Not one of the greater Bond entries, but worthwile mostly because of Sophie Marceaus efforts. Brosnan is still OK in this part, and I find this film more interesting and coherent than the previous "Tomorrow never dies". That one almost drowned in it's own desperation for eye-catching stunt sequences. However, Denise Richards is less than brilliant here.
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Salvador (1986)
low-budget war classic
22 January 2000
Maybe not Oliver Stone's best production altogether.Films like "Born on the fourth of July" and "JFK" are more professionally perfected - and better budgeted. But the the gut reaction you get from this straight-forward war drama set in a small central american state many people couldn't find on the map, is still stronger than almost any work in the same genre. James Woods may never have been better than this, in the leading role as an arrogant self-centered reporter. He's bitter and weary of the world but still able to turn from complete cynicism to a personal involvement during the (so-called civil) war in El Salvador.
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