Film Review

Save the green planet

Tsai Ming-liang sounds off about his beautiful visions of a horribly polluted world
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With I Don't Want to Sleep Alone, Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang has made something of a modern silent movie. I didn't count, but I am pretty sure there are only a handful of words (if not less) spoken by the movie's main characters. Taking the place of dialogue is ambient noise — snippets from a Cantonese opera, a Malaysian news report, a talk show in Mandarin — and most of all, unadulterated silence. With communication perpetually out of reach, it is no wonder alienation is such a major theme in Tsai's films. Read more »

Writing the book on cinematic sound

Be they epic, sexy, or downright freaky, Ennio Morricone's protean scores always seduce
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Where to start with the work of Ennio Morricone? The composer and musician has scored more than 400 films, so the task for the curious listener, let alone for the intrepid film curator, can be daunting. His most famous soundtracks have become a kind of enduring synecdoche, capable of summoning not just a particular title but an entire genre — think of the evocative power of the ocarina flourish in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Read more »

Smoke gets in your eyes

Director Tsai Ming-liang's green moves
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Long before Al Gore saw green in front of a blue screen and Hollywood used the Academy Awards to congratulate itself for suddenly becoming ecofriendly, Tsai Ming-liang braided more than a half dozen superb movies set in parts of a poisoned planet that Americans rarely contemplate. Resulting in at least a pair of classics — 1997's The River and 2003's Goodbye, Dragon Inn — Tsai's one of a kind linked works to date have been distinguished by their not just rare but entirely singular realism and prescience about everyday pollution. Read more »

Apichatpong Weerasethakul on disasters and black magic

The quietly evocative director speaks
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Whereas David Lynch at times uses all the excesses of a bad rock video to give form to the dream logic that structures his films, Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul creates quietly evocative reveries. Pierced by moments of sharp humor and unexpected beauty, Apichatpong's movies are imbued with a sense of openness, a responsive flexibility that allows their course to be redirected by serendipitous forces: a song, memories, folk tales. Read more »

Seattle's finest

On the scene with Police Beat
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The Crime Watch column was far and away the most entertaining part of my hometown's local paper. Police Beat, a week-in-the-life account of a Seattle-by-way-of-Senegal bike cop named Z (played by nonprofessional actor Pape S. Niang), is structured around these strangely revealing public records, culled from the real Seattle blotter by writer Charles Mudede. Read more »

Brothers in arms

Battle lines are drawn -- and redrawn -- in the Irish drama The Wind That Shakes the Barley
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In a vulnerable country occupied by a foreign power, civilian frustration leads to anger, which soon explodes into a violent, uncontainable insurgent movement. Read more »

If she could turn back time

Anne McGuire reels in a big catch called Adventure Poseidon The
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"The only way out is forward!" a character exclaims roughly 65 minutes into 1972's 111-minute-long The Poseidon Adventure. The same guy says the same thing around 46 minutes into Anne McGuire's 2006 remake-reversal of exactly the same length, Adventure Poseidon The. Yet no matter how or when it's sliced, the soon-to-be-doomed character's sentiment isn't quite right. In Ronald Neame's original, the way out is actually up — albeit through the bottom of a capsized ship. Read more »

Innervisions

Two or Three Things Jean-Luc Godard saw in his coffee
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Rome wasn't built in a day, but cinema's eternal enfant terrible Jean-Luc Godard did direct Contempt, Band of Outsiders, Alphaville, Pierrot le Fou, Masculine-Feminine, Two or Three Things I Know about Her, and Weekend (and a few others too) in the four years leading up to the political explosions of 1968. These trenchant, tenacious films are as good a record as any we have of an era when light-speed changes in culture and politics only seemed to make history grind to a halt. Read more »

Sleazy like Sunday morning

Four unholy nights of vintage gems
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The collective teeth of umpteen fanboys and fangirls commenced grinding when it was announced that the release of the Quentin Tarantino–Robert Rodriguez nuevo-schlock faux double bill Grindhouse would be preceded by rare 35mm revival screenings of actual '60s through '80s sleazebag hits such as Fight for Your Life and They Call Me One-Eye. A wonderful and laudable thing, of course — at least if you live within driving reach of Los Angeles's New Beverly Cinema.

Well, if you can't join 'em, beat 'em. Read more »

Imitation of Kubrick

John Malkovich turns on the smarm as a genius imposter
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John Malkovich dominates Colour Me Kubrick in much the same way a poodle might lift its pampered leg to claim each stationary street object with its personal scent. He's offensive, oblivious, frilly, absurd — all in service to a character's refined self-preservative instinct, of course.

This happens from his first seconds onscreen, when he's just a background form moving blurrily down a rear staircase while we're supposed to be focused on an attractive young foreground figure — who turns out to be the focus of Malkovich's attention too. Read more »