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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
"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 »
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 »
The collective teeth of umpteen fanboys and fangirls commenced grinding when it was announced that the release of the Quentin TarantinoRobert 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.
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 »