Very short roundup, since I´m preparing to leave for the Locarno filmfest on Saturday. (New Alex Cox!)
(Lynn Ramsay, Scotland 1999)
Calculated, but well shot chronicle of a youth in Glasgow´s poverty zone, early 70s. Ramsays gift for composition and the occasional risky move (that dream sequence scored to the Orf -theme from Badlands
) in full swing, but all its wallowing in misery is never justified by spontaneity. (Unlike in the remotely comparable George Washington
nothing ever feels real here, with all the moving flaws that implies; everything is safe, pre-packaged, expertly designed miasma (with an additional hellish bent added by the ongoing garbagemen´s strike) - possibly because it´s set in a distant era, but it feels kinda cheap nevertheless.) Young William Beadie in the lead so amazing that you tend to overlook its slickness while watching. Still, it´s the best film to open in Vienna the last month.
(Pan Nalin, India 2001)
Siddharta´s story revisited in the present:ultra-georgeous, ultra-familiar posterbook "spiritualism" for the art-house crowd, redeemed by the puzzling fact that it doesn´t take itself that
seriously, but in an astounding modest way.
(Raja Gosnell, USA 2002)
You know, I just wanted to believe that they´re all wrong, but I was punished accordingly. Most painful that it often threatens to cross over into Looney Toons/Simpsons territory and never dares to leave its piss-poor frame of self-centered unfunniness. Probably worth seeing on LSD for its outlandish decor, though you still might get the willies. The fake dog is better than the actors, btw.
(Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai, HK 2001)
Probably the Milkyway magnum opus so far: an insane riff on Peking Opera Blues
, keeping its mindcrushing wit and tempo for about an hour and while flagging a bit in the second half never ceases to baffle you with hilarious levels of intertextual obliteration. Don´t get me started on the scene where Anita Mui as grandfather chides Anita Mui, the emperor for dressing up like a woman and so on. Tashlin transitions, screwball speed, camera on acid, scriptwriter from another planet. Hugely recommended.
I Married a Strange Person
(Bill Plympton, USA 1996)
How many ways exist to transfrom the world ino a mass of fuckable orificies? Well pretty many, though it´s a bit too thin a concept for 70 minutes. Plympton´s animation as inventive as ever, though.
(Anthony Wong, HK 1994)
If Kurosawa´s Pulse
were a failure, it would feel a lot like this unbelievable, chilly and horrendously paced mystery thriller debut by Wong. His mad acting in the lead role compensates accordingly.
The Longest Nite
(Patrick Yau, HK 1997)
"Cheesy Moroder-Score; a guard suddenly throwing up in a disco to something sounding a lot like the theme from Rocky, so that Lau Ching Wan can here the internal communication of the enemy from her Walkman dropped in haste; ultra-violent set-pieces foreshadowed, just to be designated to background noise status before the torture actuallystarts; devishly clever noir distillation...if this had Lam Suet, it would have everything", I said, causing Lam Suet to appear. At times getting way too stylish for its on good, The Longest Nite
escapes my overeager prediction, but in the midst of all the flash there are two amazingly iconic lead perfs (also: Tony Leung as torn cop) and a shockingly cynical, dryly served final twist. Strong genre finery.
(Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai, 2000)
And another Milkyway production; like in the above you sense the advantages of studio production, even at small scale: a certain minimum of reliable craft always in place, lots of faces you like cropping up in regular intervals, obviously having fun at what they do. Familar, but as in family (a notion I only get from Eastwood´s films in the American cinema of these days). Otherwise this is the least of the three Milkyway movies, even though Lam Suet has a small part: a likeable romantic comedy with Andy Lau, Sammi Cheung and the usual refreshing absence of political correctness. Unfortunately it succumbs to its meaner instincts in the second half, indulging in romantic schmaltz with the occasional inspired comic riff.
Record of the fourth week of July: Calexico, "Scraping." A live album better than the concert I bought it at.