Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Brush and pen

Area author's new work offers lyrical replies to airy imagery

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Seattle-based writer Rebecca Brown casts a sensitively tuned eye toward the human condition. Her books combine ferocity (of attachments, longing) with the gracefully humane. They often verge on the violently comic. The interrelated stories that comprise 1992’s The Terrible Girls include the piece, “Forgiveness,” which opens with the line:...

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Master of the macabre

Twisting the life of a horror writer into a tale of its own

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) was a purveyor of strange unmentionable horrors, the keeper of the dreaded Necronomicon, the literary successor to Edgar Allan Poe. Without him, there may not have been a Stephen King or an Evil Dead. His influence spans film and literature. Just as the word Proustian evokes...

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Through the looking glass

Introspective narcissism from the French

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2005 at 12:00 AM

In this French drama with touches of dry humor, various types of neediness are depicted, from the emotional hunger of a neglected child to the self-absorption of a successful adult. Against a backdrop of music that achieves an exquisite sort of perfection, foolish mortals stumble about, full of suspicious thoughts and misunderstandings. The filmmakers may be too civil to concoct an actual satire — they metaphorically slap a character around a little but won’t make them bleed — yet this droll chamber piece is humane and intelligent in a gracefully unpretentious manner.

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The Interpreter

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2005 at 12:00 AM

The stakes are set high — maybe a little too high — in Sydney Pollack’s new political thriller, in which Nicole Kidman stars as a mysterious UN interpreter who becomes a pawn in a convoluted assassination plan. Kidman and co-star Sean Penn smooth over the script’s rougher patches, and the gorgeously shot, on-location scenery is a plus, even if the film ultimately doesn’t earn its grim political backdrop.

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Eating Out

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Welcome to the naughty Breakfast Club for the gay set. It’s a dirty little number with moments of gross-out so gross you just gotta laugh. With a nod to John Waters, Eating Out plays with worthy subject matter, though often botching it with superficiality that’s not funny enough. The film flirts with the phenomenon of heteros who hang with homos and heteros more homo than hetero. If the acting, script and directing were more on cue, Eating Out could have been a five-star meal.

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Dust to Glory

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2005 at 12:00 AM

This documentary of the 2003 Baja 1000 race would have been better served if director Dana Brown had let the pictures and the drivers speak more for themselves. Instead, he drowns his movie in an extensive catalogue of interviews with racers, crew members, their families and fans, as well as his own clichéd commentary and gooey pontification on the greater meaning of it all. Nevertheless, the cameras capture the gritty, unbridled storm through the desert as cycles, trucks and buggies slide through shifting passages of silt. There are the expected blowouts, rollovers and crashes, but there are also dreamy shots taken from above, soaring over the landscape as vehicles glide over beaches or bound over choppy hills.

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Night of Henna

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2005 at 12:00 AM

First-time writer/director Hassan Zee’s moviemaking skills are still green, and he pulled off Night of Henna on a shoestring. It all shows, but this little picture has some merits. It tells a classic American story of immigrant parents and second-generation kids trying to reconcile old traditions with Western desires — all delivered through a Pakistani-American lens. Night of Henna also brings us a rare American Muslim female protagonist, Hava. When her parents reveal they’ve arranged her marriage, Hava must decide if remaining loyal to her family is worth losing her love, a white American kid, and her dream of college.

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A Lot Like Love

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Picture, if you will, When Harry Met Sally but without the witty repartee. Now throw in a pair of eye candy in the form of Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet. If you’re thinking A Lot Like Love looks a lot like crap, you’re thinking right. The story chronicles a couple’s evolution of hookups and hiccups, but the two co-stars never develop chemistry beyond a kind of giddy flirtation. They’re the kind of couple who find each other so amusing (spitting water at each other, putting straws up their noses) that they crack themselves up, but no one else. The promos promised a relationship that blurs the line between friends and lovers, but the actors never show us more than sex and silliness.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

In My Country

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Despite director John Boorman’s numerous accomplishments (Deliverance, Point Blank and The General), he does little to save this problematic and conflicted film. Based on a memoir by South African poet and journalist Antjie Krog, the film charts the budding romance of a white Afrikaner (Juliette Binoche) and an African-American reporter (Samuel L. Jackson) as they travel town to town, listening to horrifying accounts of rape, torture and murder. There is plenty of dramatic grist for the mill here, but the script is a textbook example of how poorly written fictional characters and clumsy storytelling can undermine the power of real-life tragedy and history.

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Everybody was kung fu fighting …

A comedic take on martial arts flicks

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Writer-director-action star Stephen Chow has been heralded as Asia’s next big thing, and is poised to invade the West with his inventive mix of cartoonish nonsense and martial arts spectacle. His latest, Kung Fu Hustle, is a deliriously manic (sometimes surreal) send up of martial arts films that boasts so many visual puns, gags and effects that it’s hard not to get caught up in the sheer wackiness of it all. If you can imagine a film that crosses Enter the Dragon, with Raising Arizona by way of The Matrix, you might get an inkling of what we’re talking about here. With its shamelessly comedic impulses and giddy visual style it plays like a souped-up version of Jackie Chan’s early work.

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