2003 Milk Plus Droogies

Best Picture
Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Director
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Actor (tie)
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Actor (tie)
Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

Best Actress
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Supporting Actor
David Hyde Pierce, Down With Love

Best Supporting Actress
Miranda Richardson, Spider

Best Screenplay
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Best Foreign Film

Best Cinematography
Harris Savides, Gerry

Members' Marquees

Critical Contacts

Lobby Reading

The Video Store

Reel Resources

The Blog Bijou

-Admit One
-Artistic Delusions
-Belligerent Bunny's Bad Movie Shrine
-Beware of Blog
-The Brain Drain
Biancolo Notes
-The Big Ticket
-Bitter Cinema
-Black & White World
-Bull Durham's Hot Corner
-Brewed Fresh Daily
-Camille's Film Journal
-The Chutry Experiment
-Cineblog (II)
-Cine Club
-Cinegraphic.Net: The Avante-Garde Film and Video Blog
-Cinema 24
-Cinema News
-Il Cinema Secondo (Italian)
-Cineaste (Russian)
-Cinema Toast
-Concentrated Nonsense
-Confessions of an Indie Filmmaker
-Cult Movies I Dare You to Watch
-Cutting to the Chase
-Cynthia Rockwell's Waiting Room
-The Daily Despair
-The Daily Digest
-Day for Night
-Delta Sierra Arts
-Dinky's Docket
-Distorting the Medium
-Donald Melanson On Movies
-Electric Movies
-Fade In: Blog
-Feeling Listless
-Filmfilter (German)
-Filmtagebuch (German)
-Film Talk
-Five Easy Pieces
-Frank Booth
-A Girl and A Gun
-Glazed Donuts
-GreenCine Daily
-Harlequin Knights
-He Loved Him Some Movies
-The Hobo Reviews
-Hot Buttered Death
-Iggy's Movie Review Weblog
-Iguano Film Blog
-In Development
-Japanese Films' Journal
-Joe Sixpack's Film Blog
-Joe's Weblog & Film Project News
-Junk for Code
-Kumari's Movie Blog
-Lights Out Films
-Like Anna Karina's Sweater (Filmbrain)
-Listen Missy
-Magnolia Girl
-Marley's Ghost
-Media Yenta
-Michael I. Trent
-Moov Goog
-Motime Like the Present
-Movie Boy
-Movie Criticism For the Retarded
-A Movie Diary
-The Movie Generation
-The Movie Marketing Blog
-Movie Retard
-The Movie Review
-Moving Pictures
-Nando's Blog
-Netflix Fan
-Or Kill Me
-Out of Ambit
-Out of Focus
-Paolo - Cinema's Radio Weblog (Italian)
-Pigs and Battleships
-Plot Kicks In
-Pop Culture Junkies
-The Projector
-Qwipster's Movie Reviews
-Reel Reviews (Podcast)
-Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
-The Screening Room
-Screen Watcher
-Short and Sweet
-The Silver Screen
-Stinky Cinema
-Sunset Blvd
-Tagline: A Movie Weblog
Talking Pictures
Tea for One
-Tom Vick's Asian Cinema Blog
-Trailer Park
-Truly Bad Films
Waste of Tape
-Wayne's Movie Blog
Whippin Picadilly
Wittgenstein's Bunnies
-Yay! Movies!
McBain Recommends
-Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
-Kill Bill vol 2
Shroom Recommends
-Top 20 List
-Head On
Joker Recommends
-Top 20 List
-House of Flying Daggers
-The Aviator
-Bad Education
Yun-Fat Recommends
-Eight Diagram Pole Fighter
-Los Muertos
-Tropical Malady
Allyn Recommends
-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
-Songs from the Second Floor
Phyrephox Recommends
-Top 20 List
-Design for Living (Lubitsch, 1933)
-War of the Worlds
-Howl's Moving Castle
Melisb Recommends
-Top 20 List
-The Return
-Spirited Away
-Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...And Spring
Wardpet Recommends
-Finding Nemo
-Man on the Train
-28 Days Later
Lorne Recommends
-21 Grams
-Cold Mountain
-Lost in Translation
Merlot Recommends
-Top 20 List
-The Man on the Train
-Safe Conduct
-The Statement
Whitney Recommends
-Femme Fatale
-Gangs of New York
-Grand Illusion
Sydhe Recommends
-In America
-Looney Tunes: Back In Action
-Whale Rider
Copywright Recommends
Top 20 List
-Flowers of Shanghai
-Road to Perdition
Stennie Recommends
Top 20 List
-A Matter of Life and Death
Rodney Recommends
Top 20 List
-The Pianist
-Talk to Her
Jeff Recommends
-Dial M for Murder
-The Game
-Star Wars Saga
Lady Wakasa Recommends
-Dracula: Page from a Virgin's Diary
-Dr. Mabuse, Der Spieler
-The Last Laugh
Steve Recommends
-Top 20 List
-Princess Raccoon
-Princess Raccoon
-Princess Raccoon
Jenny Recommends
-Mean Girls
-Super Size Me
-The Warriors
Jason Recommends
Top 20 List
-Old Boy
-Million Dollar Baby
-Head On
Lons Recommends
-Before Sunset
-The Incredibles

Powered by Blogger Pro™

links open windows

(c)2002 Design by Blogscapes.com

The Blog:
Sunday, May 09, 2004

From the Tribeca Film Festival: The Last Life in the Universe

If a movie about an introverted obsessive-compulsive who comes out of his shell after he meets a special girl sounds not only a mite corny but a bit worn as well, The Last Life in the Universe is blessed with the gifts to briefly reinvigorate a hackneyed concept. Thai director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang takes this dangerously Hollywood romantic situation, variably drains it of narrative and lets the film-which starts off as icy and distanced as possible-thaw both its audience and its tired premise with a gentle charm.

It also helps that Asano Tadanobu, the most handsome and prolific young Japanese actor working today, who seems to be making his rounds in the best films every year, plays the introvert in question. His embodiment of Kenji, a Japanese librarian questionably etching outa meaningful existence in Bangkok, takes politely reserved reticence to whole new levels and is key to making Ratanaruang’s admittedly eye-rolling setup work. The inner warmth of his character certainly helps ease the coldness of the film’s opening moments, which seem to take a visual cue of modern monochromatic desolation from Michael Mann’s Heat. Kenji’s existence is so minor that it is not until he witnesses the death of the sister of Noi (Sinitta Boonyasak) twenty minutes in that the movie even announces its title. Perhaps what makes The Last Life in the Universe so lovely despite its dramatic roots is the air of complete offhandedness that pervades the film. The death of Noi’s prositute sister comes out of nowhere and is quickly followed by an even more unexpected event. After settling into the rhythms of Kenji’s meticulous, low-key lifestyle his brother suddenly shows up with a yakuza friend; the yakuza kills the brother, Kenji kills the yakuza, and then proceeds to clean the house and he (and the film) continue on as if nothing happened.

It is these momentary flights of unexpected fancy and sometimes out of place creativity that invest Kenji’s slowly blossoming relationship with Noi with an important air of the spontaneous and unreal among the film’s mellow mixture of despondence and melancholy romanticism. As Kenji meagerly asks stay in Noi’s country house (as his is starting to smell of death) their relationship gradually develops in spite of their ability to only communicate in bursts of English or halting Japanese, the possibility is evoked that some, all, or none of this slowly liberating experience is just a languid dream of Kenji’s. This evocation is emphasized by master cinematographer Christopher Doyle’s precise use of muted colors. The cold unrealness of Kenji’s grey-blue monochromatic city life surprisingly does not distinctly transform once he and Noi move to the country. On the contrary, the colors are indeed warmer, the world around them more textured, but everything still has a muted air about it, very stilled and lethargic. Far from heavyhanded, this downplayed charge in surroundings only increases the dreamy oddness of Noi and Kenji’s relationship, framed within the confines of an extroverted prostitute growing accustomed to Kenji’s affectionate quirks.

One of the most glorious moments in the film is a sudden burst of unexpected magic when Kenji’s compulsion requires him to clean Noi’s mess-of-a-house. Ratanaruang stages a seamless, lovely scene where Noi exuberantly frisks through the house as the various detritus surrounding the place swirls around her in a slow, backwards motion, finally floating back to its proper places around the house. Along with Tadanobu’s performance and moments like these-though usually less lyrical but nevertheless surprising (a most unexpected tattoo, a cameo by director Takeshi Miike)-one is gradually warmed over to Ratanaruang’s combination of pat narrative, visual artfullnes and sudden peculiarities. The film is not helped by the beautiful but non-entity actress who plays Kenji’s sole human interaction, and without Ratanaruang’s diversions-what could have been, what might have happened-The Last Life in the Universe sometimes approaches a very pretty, measured cliché. Luckily this film is able to stand away from its less distinguishable Asian brethren that think capturing both the ennui of youth as well as its wistful romantic possibilities is a unique idea. It may not be the most original film, but paradoxically enough it is also unusual and often moves in unforeseen ways. Even if its various inspirations are not consistent through and through, the film’s placid visual allure is enough to thaw a much more hackneyed tragic-comedy than this, and the film ends on a note of such lovely melancholy as to perhaps discount even the most egregious of the film’s flaws.