Volume 1, Number 32
|Stop Making Sense
(Dir: Jonathan Demme, Appearances by David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Alex Weir, Jerry Harrison, Bernie Worrell, Steven Scales, Tina Weymouth, Lynn Mabry, and Ednah Holt)
BY: DAVID PERRY
There is a nice little list of films that I have never seen that are generally considered classics. Sure I've seen every Best Picture winner, but there are lesser known critical favorites that I've yet to see (for example, I've still never seen Yellow Submarine). It was only recently that I saw Battleship Potemkin and Picnic at Hanging Rock, two films that have been considered artistically important films. Where Potemkin showed silent films at their best, Stop Making Sense showed the best of the concert film. I had never seen the film, but had heard about it for years. Its head-lining band was one that I grew up with, a 80's oddity called Talking Heads. Not having thought of the film for years (hence me never renting it) and nearly forgetting the band, I found that there are many songs that I consider favorites from this band. Their songs have been present in modern films (A Civil Action closed with "Take Me to the River"), film advertising (the trailer for The Truman Show uniquely used "Once in a Lifetime"), and periodic radio play ("Life During Wartime" was the one that I had admittedly heard the most recently). The Talking Heads was more than just a fluke, but a credited band that is understated and this film does well in proving this.
Directed by Silence of the Lambs auteur Jonathan Demme, the film is a brilliant filming of David Byrne et al. in concert. I saw more energy in the ninety minute performance Byrne puts forth than I saw on the last Summer Olympics. The film begins with Byrne walking onto a bare stage with a boom box and guitar. He begins to perform "Psycho Killer" and the rest of the band is slowly brought onto the stage. Despite having eight other musicians on the stage, Byrne steals the show with his crazy antics and more than unusual apparel.
Demme has made the best of concert film without a doubt.
Using shadows, projected slides, and never taking the camera off the stage until the end,
he produces a viable motion picture out of something that most would say is a act you must
see to enjoy. The filming is great and the music is great (with the exception of the awful
Tom Tom Club song sans Byrne). The film is a treat and a promised addition to my video
(Dir: Eric Rohmer, Starring Marie Rivière, Béatrice Romand, Alain Libolt, Didier Sandre, Alexia Portal, Stéphane Darmon, Aurélia Alcais, Matthieu Davette, and Yves Alcais)
BY: DAVID PERRY
The French New Wave is pretty much agreed upon as being the child of five French directors: François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer, and Claude Chabrol. Started as film criticism, it took a new edge with more importance on the art of filmmaking and not the sheer entertainment value. These five wrote for a French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma and went on to have their own distinctive film careers as directors and spawning other French New Wavers like Louis Malle and Roman Polanski. They would start a new type of filmmaking that had disciples in Italy (Michaelangelo Antonioni), England (Michael Powell), and America (William Friedkin). Truffaut and Godard have always been the more renowned, but the other three still deserve credit. Rivette made La Belle Noiseuse, Chabrol can be noted for Les Biches, and the mark of Rohmer's career has been Claire's Knee. The biggest difference has been that pretty much all of the New Wave is gone: Truffaut, Malle, and Powell have passed and the rest are all in a state of retirement. All except Rohmer. Like any critic turned director, he still searches to finish everything as he wants it. After directing three parts of a series of films of the seasons he finishes up the series, and probably his career, with Autumn Tale.
The film is the normal mistaken love story that has plagued the movement a little too often. Magali (Romand) is a vineyard owner whose children have grown and moved away. She is under the belief that the life she is presently living is the right one for her, but that belief is not shared by some of her friends that are sure she is desperately lonely. Rosine (Portal) wants to Magali to turn out with a older man she once had a fling with. Still friends with this man, she believes that he is the perfect match for Magali. Meanwhile, Isabelle (Rivière) takes out a personal ad for Magali and leaves the man who answers under the impression that she is the woman he is courting. As Rohmer would have it, all is brought out in the wedding party for a family friend and Magali is thrown two different beaus, and must expectedly choose one.
I found that Rohmer has well directed the film and cast
it with suitable actors, especially the deliciously fun Rivière. My only real problem
with the film is that it is unbelievably predictable. Sure I've like some cliché films,
but this one sticks to every trick in the book. A well made cliché, but one all the same.
|Three to Tango
(Dir: Damon Santostefano, Starring Matthew Perry, Neve Campbell, Dylan McDermott, Oliver Platt, Bob Balaban, John C. McGinley, Cylk Cozart, Kelly Rowan)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Three to Tango is one of those romantic comedies that every critic sees way too often. Maybe that is who critics become so cynical about love, because we see it done the same way time and again on the big screen. There is the one woman everyone wants, and the two men she must choose from. The reason this worked for Truffaut's Jules and Jim is that both males were highly likable characters and whom you would want Jeanne Moreau to turn out with depended on what type of person you were. On the other hand, Three to Tango has the good guy and the bad guy. There is no question of who we are supposed to wish the girl to, we are told in the written material as we walk in the film. The print ads might as well just say "Let's hope Matthew Perry gets the girl and not that guy from The Practice."
Not only are they divided on the difference of personality, but the greatest way to find the romantic protagonist: poverty. The fact that the McDermott character is rich just screams to the audience that he is a bad man. As much as I hate to admit it, at least Simply Irresistible made the rich guy the good guy. The architect that must act gay to win the job from the McDermott character and inadvertently the love of Campbell is a shoo-in for good guy simply because he needs money (though that rather large New York apartment he maintains on his own costs more than we are lead to believe that he earns in a given year.
Despite this I did not think that Three to Tango
was terrible, just a little convoluted and pushed. The characters were too flat and the
performances were less than enthralling. McDermott seemed to have just been reading his
lines. The story was interesting but not the best in the world. A slight film, but not a
(Dir: Sydney Pollack, Starring Harrison Ford, Kristen Scott Thomas, Charles S. Dutton, Bonnie Hunt, Dennis Haysbert, Sydney Pollack, Richard Jenkins, Paul Guilfoyle, Susanna Thompson, Peter Coyote, Dylan Baker, Lynne Thigpen, and Kate Mara)
BY: DAVID PERRY
I've been accused to continually play favorites when it comes to favorite directors. Sure I loved Eyes Wide Shut, a film regarded as an atrocity by many, and I do not think that my admiration is simply because of it being Kubrick at the helm. I'll be the first to admit that Woody Allen's September, David Fincher's Alien³, David Cronenberg's M. Butterfly, Sidney Lumet's Gloria, and Alfred Hitchcock's Under Capricorn are all big disappointments, both for their directors and the filmmaking process (Under Capricorn is such a bad film from such a great director that most act as if it never happened). With that said, my slight admiration for Random Hearts is not simply because I happen to think that Tootsie is one of the greatest films of the last twenty-five years. I know that the film is not garnering the greatest of reviews, but I still think the film works.
Random Hearts is a romantic drama about two people brought together by the death of their cheating spouses. Dutch Van Den Broeck (Ford) finds out that his wife Peyton (Thompson) has been having an affair when she dies in a plane crash with another man on the way to Miami. This leads him to Kay Chandler (Thomas), a New Hampshire Congresswoman running for reelection and wife to the man whom Peyton was heading to Miami with. Chandler is less than happy with the details that Dutch brings with him as he tries to sketch a mental image of what was happening between Peyton and Cullen Chandler (Coyote) and she tries to keep away from him, wanting to remaining in the dark about her husband and keep his affair away from the people that want her out of office. The two of course fall in love and the story goes from there working off what must happen for their relationship to work.
The film is really nice to look out with great direction
by Pollack and understated cinematography from Phillippe Rousselot using beautiful natural
lighting. The two leads do rather good jobs in their roles, with Thomas shining. My
problem with the film is that it is way too pushy and overlong. I felt like everything was
mapped out at the beginning and I was just running my finger through without being allowed
to deviate. Also it is overlong because it gets bogged down in subplots that do not work.
Though I enjoyed the additions of Pollack (as Chandler's campaign manager) and Dutton (as
Dutch's partner in the Washington, DC, Police Force), but the story lines of Chandler's
campaign and Dutch's trouble with a corrupt cop are out of place and just add too much
empty time to the film. Not Pollack's best, but still a pretty nice little film.
(Dir: Bruce McCulloch, Starring Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell, Emmy Laybourne, Elaine Hendrix, Glynis Johns, Mark McKinney, Harland Williams, and Tom Green)
BY: DAVID PERRY
As if there was any question of how I would feel about this film as I walked in. I've pretty much been the official Saturday Night Live alumni nay-seer. I've spent countless hours telling of hatred over SNL skits turned films like A Night at the Roxbury and Coneheads, hey, I even initially disliked Wayne's World. This always disheartens me because I am one of the biggest fans of sketch comedy. I've grown up to Monty Python's Flying Circus, sketch comedy at its very best. And I've helped to point people towards great shows like The Kids in the Hall, The Tom Green Show, and Saturday Night Live. When I'd watch a funny skit on SNL about the guys who would be tarnished on-screen in A Night at the Roxbury, I'd laugh and remember how funny the running skit was in future years, but now when I think of those characters, I remember how unfunny the film was. But at least with all those aforementioned skits turned films, I liked the skits from SNL, a note I cannot say about Superstar.
Mary Catherine Gallagher (Shannon) is a Catholic school girl that wants one thing in life: a real kiss. When she falls in love with the school's master dancer and big man on campus, Sky (Ferrell), she finds that she must compete with the possessive cheerleader that Sky goes with named Evian (Hendrix). Evian attempts to make Mary's life a living hell. All along there are some friends that Mary picks up in her class for "special students" including a silent biker with the eyes for Mary (Williams).
Directed by McCulloch of Kids in the Hall fame
and featuring Tom Green in a small role, the film is a disgrace to all sketch comedy. I
guess that I'm just going to have to turn to South Park for any comedy that has
yet to be tarnished (though BASEketball is still hard to forgive Parker and Stone
for). The whole film is a mess with very, very little redeeming moments. In fact off the
top of my head I can only think of one moment in the film in which I actually came near
laughing, a small moment from Tom Green. The only sketches on SNL that I think I
could handle in the theatre are now Celebrity Jeopardy ("This must be my
lucky day, I'll take The Rapists for 400") and Star Wars original
screen-tests ("Before we puts the spaghetti ins the machine, what the hell is a