Mid-week movie roundup
The Isle (Kim Ki-Duk, Korea 2000) B+
An escaped convict tries to hide in a colorful house raft village on an idyllic sea near a wood and strikes up a unique relationship with the mysterious, taciturn caretaker (who doesn´t so much as raise a brow when she gets rid of a competiting whore). Notorious for emptying cinemas within seconds for its groundbreaking use of fish hooks as S/M-fueled sex stimuli, Kim Ki-Duk´s festival success turns out to be a quiet, beautifully composed absurd parable about power, loneliness and alienation. Then there´s the use of fish hooks, though.
Ausländer Raus - Schlingensief´s Container (Paul Poet, Austria 2002) C+
Pointless, if slightly entertaining doc about Schlingensief´s notorious installation (he had some asylants put into a container and voted them off Big Brother
-style. Public uproar ensues. Etc. An austrian thingy, you know.
The Four Seasons of the Law (aka The Spring gathering, Dimos Avdeliodis, Greece, 1999) B+
Four different rural guards fail in their job at a particularly resistent community. Gentle, epic (3 hrs, floats by easily) comedy with a touch for the artsy now and then (includes gratuitious use of Vivaldi´s "4 seasons" at every opportunity). Clever filmmaking though (each episode - one per guard, not separated by titles - shot by a different DP, giving the enterprise and handmade feel. Works as a political parable on Greece as well and manages to keep its charm nevertheless.
Love Serenade (Shirley Barrett, Australia, 1966) B
Two small-town sisters compete for a DJ newly arrived from Brisbane. Tragicomedy, not too far from Muriel´s Wedding
; but not as accomplished and with an odd streak towards the inexplicabe. Entertains aptly throughout, but is elevated infinietly by George Shevtsov´s side-splitting turn as the DJ. The flatness of his timbre, the bogus-sincere guru talk, detached, earnest and yet amused with the facial (and bodily) expression of a dead fish. Well, really.
Ali (Michael Mann, US 2001) B-
Bit of a disappointment after Heat
and The Insider
, and especially as the first half hour with its protracted 10-min-song-credits and the real-time Liston fight might make you expect a masterpiece. Completely loses its dramatic arc at some point or other, but never fails to maintain interest due to sharp eye for details (Mann´s typical heavy pacing occasionally collapsing under an off-guard idea, then quickly receding into White Elephant territory again, like the termites on TV) and fine acting throughout. Voight, as noted, almost disapperig in the unrecognizable. Going for the Rumble in the Jungle as clima is understandable, but ill-advised, as the memory of the real Ali, admired not so long ago in When We Were Kings
still towers over the proceeedings.
Windtalkers (John Woo, US 2002) A-
Might be my favourite Woo in the US so far (either that or Face/Off
): More directorial investment in the carnage than in the backstory about Navajo Indians serving as codetalkers, but takes both equally serious. Occasional veering into the more pathetic Woo territory forgiven for surprisingly multi-faceted, almost Fuller-contradictory take on war, racial issues and heroism. Inscenation the opposite of Fuller of course, but the handling of space in the action sequences is terrific, the bonding between the leads quite moving and the absence of the cheap kind of patriotism a welcome relief.