I am lucky enough to get the CBC out of Vancouver down here in Seattle. Da Vinci's Inquest had much better writing generally then we get in American TV dramas. It may be just me, but I love how mostly each episode drops in to a story, the story develops, and with each ep we get more and more character backstory and ongoing story. And then the ep ends with a suggestion (or several possibilities) of how that eps plot might wrap up, but with out our being burdened, like American TV, with the simple-minded requirement that with each ep everything has to be completely wrapped up. And the acting is top notch. And of course Vancouver is a tremendous location, and I am so glad to see it used as Vancouver, and not just a as a prop to pretend to be some US city.
The Tesseract (2003)dark, beautiful, well crafted
7 January 2005
Firstly, the film is as much about the characters as the plot, and that is always hard for U.S. movie goers to handle. But, if you can just get your head out of the television this film is well worth the viewing. The plot is simple, but the characters make it more complicated, because the characters are complicated. The central theme is desperation, each individuals desperation and how it plays out when fate brings together a series of events. In this case criminal activity. Again, the crime isn't so much the point of this film (although crime is always a fine cinematic filter for human interaction), it's how these various people, with all there personal demons and angels that they carry around interact with the crime.
Bully (2001)America like it is
21 March 2004
A beautiful, powerful peek into the real lives of the kids around us. Complaints about this movie being different from the book have to do with the nature of adapting fiction to film. Larry Clark has a sensibility and eye for bringing out the less than sweet side of American youth. To me "Bully" was like another chapter in the same study he began with "Kids". The acting is painfully realistic, and the manner and attitude of the youths in this film clicks so real it hurts. I am always amazed at how Clark can get young people to open up so much on camera when most of them won't even talk to their parents. Some of Clark's other cinematic efforts don't work so well, I really think he should take on the task of bringing to the screen the lives of kids in latter day US of A.
Gummo (1997)Ugly is Beautiful
21 March 2004
When I first watched this film I was put off by the gratuitous abuse of cats. But on the second and third viewing I just came to realize that is how kids are. Brutal in a deadpan way. I love the look of these people. I hate films that just pick outr the buff and finely chiseled featured types. Korine makes wonderful cinematic use of people who look like people, and aren't posing or primping. It would not have worked if Korine had brought in a lot of name actors and cinematic beauties. The story is well plotted, though often disturbing, it kept me watching. And going back to watch some scenes over again to catch what I imagine is inadvertent cinematic brilliance. And let's not forget the fab Linda Manz as Solomon's mom!! Woohoo!
The Butterfly (2001)Another incredible movie from South Korea
15 February 2004
South Korean cinema has really become the top drawer of dramatic cinema in the world. This story of suffering and redemption is of the highest quality in all aspects. the cinematic skills of the director using DV brings that often maligned technology to the screen with a movie that is as visually stunning as anything shot on 35mm. And the acting is totally top drawer. All three of the main actors go through an almost embarrassingly intimate psychological transformation that exemplifies the films message of redemption. This film beautifully contrasts a sad dystopian (and I think accurate) failure of the modernist/Spectacular capitalism and a more eternally personal search for meaning and emotional anchors. Overall brilliant.
Failan (2001)an emotionally gripping gangster movie
11 February 2004
Another brilliant Korean movie (South Korea produces the most challenging films of the last few decades.) This film takes the "gangster" genre to a different level. A level that is about the heart (love and hope), desire for a better life and trying to redeem ones self in the face of relentless greed and selfishness on the part of the rest of the characters.
The essential apocrypha of the essential Pacific Northwest TV series
20 May 2003
Suffering and redemption. That is the theme of this movie. The task of this movie is to put into context the amazing TV series David Lynch produced, Twin Peaks. The movie is far more intense then the series was as a whole. Although certain episodes are also an epiphany. In the movie we get to experience the desolation that is the core of small town United States. Far beyond Faulkner, Ford, or Himes. Here we have incest as the heart of the American Dream. This film is beyond violent. beyond horrible. The mirror most "American's" feign ignorance of. Despite his rightist politics, or perhaps because of them, Lynch finds the soul of divulges the most horrid and agonizingly truthful parts of life in white middle class United States. NOT for the light hearted.
The Boys in the Band (1970)More powerful than most contemporary "gay" cinema
19 May 2003
Originally I saw this in high school in the mid '70s. It was exciting to see gay men on screen, even if they were in then end mostly unhappy. I watched it just recently (2003) and I find it is still a more thoughtful gay film than 90% of the films that come out under the genre of "gay" these days. Unlike its contemporaries, Boys in the Band is about thinking about being gay, not just cute bodies and such. The scarfs around the neck, and the tight polyester flared trousers do lend it an hint of fashion horror to me. It was also quite an accomplishment for William Friedkin to bring this play to the screen in such an effective way. Many contemporary gay men will think; my how far we have come. I say, watch it a second time and look and listen and see if things have really gotten any better. Cinematically or socially.
Dark Water (2002)Gloomy, Doomed and Tragic - I love it!!!
5 May 2003
This is by far a scarrier movie than any of the Ring movies. No gore, no violence,just unrelenty tension and and a sense of doom that starts with the first scene and carries you to the end. The actress who plays the mother is woman really right on. Utterly believable, well paced, gut wrenchingly tragic in her portrayal.
Wanee & Junah (2001)This movie is one of the best humanist movies of our times
5 May 2003
The writing and directing is subttle, and very poignant. The directing tells us a very intimate tale in a way that flows back and forth, but always moves forward. To me Wanee and Junah shows that the most interesting movies of our times are being made in South Korea.
The Wounded Man (1983)One of the great unknwowns of Gay cinema
5 May 2003
When this showed at the Seattle Int'l Film Fest I was the only person standing and clapping and cheering. The rest of the crowd booed or was silent. It is a well played small film that reaches deep into the reality of a young gay man's humanity. It is about a real man; and does not play to the insipid hyper-buffed muscular "gay paositive" that passes for the genre of non-porn Gay cinema (and that is why so much of contemporary Gay genre movies are so dull). This movie is Intense Passsion and Great Tragedy. The acting and directing and cinematography is fantastic; it all keeps the film clastrophobic and tense and passionate. Don't miss this if you can find it.
Cinderella Liberty (1973)greatest movie ever made in Seattle
29 March 2003
You can't necessarily tell by the cinematography, but this fantastic movie is the best film ever shot in Seattle - the pre-Microsoft, real Seattle. The acting is understated to the point where the camera and the actors almost playing a game of who holds the shot the longest. It is not a story about losers at all - that is Sleepless in Seattle - Cinderella Liberty is a beautiful love story in the real world. Cinderella Liberty is a story about the possibilities that can exist between humans in even the most low-life of worlds. I love it because it is the Seattle I knew and offers its characters many of the choices I had offered to me at a certain point in my own life. And that's what heart-gripping cinema is all about, to me.