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Dance Me to My Song (1998)
Emotional Cripple versus Physical Cripple
It appears that previous reviewers have failed to pick up upon a central theme of this unique film. Why didn't Julia just get rid of Madeline, they say? ... cardboard characters and doesn't make any sense, they say ... must be because good housekeepers are hard to come by, they say.
Of course this is a crude simplification, and what they have missed is that Julia, despite her crippling physical disability, was able to empathise with Madeline's hopelessness and despair and through a sense of unreciprocated friendship and sense of duty, refused to cut the relationship short. This is evidenced in two key scenes: Firstly, in the initial abandonment scene, there is a lingering shot of the emergency button as Julia contemplates pressing it. Later, as a post date rape follow-up, Madeline cuddles Julia and looks to her for support in bed, where a careful eye should read the compassion in Julia's face. To me this exemplifies the most compelling aspect of the film, namely, Madeline, despite her good looks and seductive sexuality, was the emotional cripple juxtaposed with the warmth and love of life displayed by Julia.
This film has given me a new perspective ...
Lover Boy (1989)
Fine pre-cursor to Romper Stomper and Metal Skin
No need to say too much about this film except that it is another almost hyper-realistic Melbourne western suburbs mood piece and a pre-cursor to the comparable Romper Stomper and Metal Skin. If you liked those two and you can chase up a copy of Lover boy then it is well worth the watch. I saw it on SBS, probably the only station that would show it as they manage to slip in the c* word a few times :-)
Noah Taylor is in fine early form as the awkward but somehow more sophisticated than his peers teenage misfit.
Hell's Kitchen (1998)
I am amazed that this film got such a low score. I personally thought it was a very convincing and moving mood piece and was well acted all round. Quite clearly an indie film and a character study but has a plot that moves along quite quickly and gives plenty of opportunity for reflection without ever moralising or passing judgement or overtly trying to make a social or political statement. No clear good guys and bad guys but rather interesting and individual characters caught up in a bad situation. Apart from anything else it had a great soundtrack/score and the original song by Rosanna Arquette was fantastic!
Perhaps the problem is that Angelina Jolie fans picked this one up for a perve?
Tokyo Fist (1995)
Was there an underlying meaning?
I watched this film on DVD for a second time tonight and I am sitting here struggling to comprehend the underlying meaning. I guess that begs the question as to whether there actually is one! Well, according to the director he wants to express the irrational. But is this irrationality based on some real underlying disturbance? I personally saw reflections of a number of underlying themes and I am wondering whether anybody else felt the same way. It seemed to me in particular that there was an element of repressed anger and violence in the Japanese society, as is so evident in Japanese anime (especially the 'hentai' variety). It certainly was a powerful film and the self destructiveness and brooding anger of the three central characters was certainly frightening yet moving at the same time.
I still wonder what the ending meant though, but I am tempted to interpret the parallel between the lead characters as an expression of some sort of common pent up repression of Japanese society. Let me know lest I start punching walls or succumb to the compulsion to have my head pounded :-)
Technology is not the answer?
I am curious that no one has mentioned what seemed to be the major underlying message of the film: That humans continue to search for 'answers' and meaning through war and technology that can only be found through spirituality (god?). Now I would basically consider myself to be an agnostic although I do have a passing interest in theology from an academic rather than a spiritual perspective. I personally thought the above mentioned theme was put forward quite strongly, particularly during the final scene and the 'evolution' montage. It was also underscored by the spiritual transition and speech given by Shiro in orbit. To summarise, I thought that the religious subtext added a bit of weight to what was already a visually attractive film.