Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Pola X

[Written for Film.com]

Herman Melville’s novel Pierre, or the Ambiguities, was widely reviled when it was published, just as Leos Carax’s film of Pierre has been generally maligned. Melville’s book came along in the wide wake of a little thing called Moby-Dick, and even if it had not, it’s a very strange novel—seemingly a put-on of a certain kind of fruity romantic tale, but stretched past the point of parody. It’s weird, but interesting-weird.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Richard T. Jameson, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Miss Julie

[Written for Amazon.com]

The fascination of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, as play or film, resides in the quicksilver shifts of power and vulnerability, assurance and desperation, seducer and seducee, almost from line to line — in the text and, ideally, in the performances of two equally matched actors. One Midsummer’s Eve, in the scullery of a country manor, the aristocratic daughter of the house and the major-domo Jean conduct a kind of mating dance on a killing ground. Each is clearly attracted to the other; each, just as clearly, resents and despises the other. Jean wants revenge for a lifetime serving “betters” whom — so he believes — he outstrips in enterprise and imagination. Miss Julie craves more or less equally the thrill of bringing him off his high horse and rolling around in the mud with him.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Bruce Reid, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Madadayo

[Written for The Stranger]

We (and by we I mean all of us, not just those people) succumb so easily to the extremes when contemplating our demise: apocalypse or enfeebled withering. A bang or a whimper were the only options Eliot gave for the world’s end; burn out or fade away, as rock and roll fans rewrote the line. In truth, however, most of us do not die in either flames or impenetrable shadow. We stumble along, perhaps weaker, and needing a cane for support, but also hopefully wiser and more patient, and at one point in the midst of our going on comes neither of the drastic poles, but merely a cessation. I do not know what Akira Kurosawa’s final days or hours were like, I do not know how peaceably he met his fate. But I am certain he reached it with a greater serenity than most of us, for in his final film he’d given himself a marvelous reminder of the nobility of carrying on.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Sean Axmaker

2000 Eyes: But I’m A Cheerleader

[Written for Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

Natasha Lyonne (The Slums of Beverly Hills), the most sardonic young actress working today, puts on a cheery face and wears her pom-poms with pride as picture-perfect cheerleader Megan. But she’s got a problem: her boyfriend’s sloppy, slobbering kisses don’t get her all hot and bothered (“Maybe he just doesn’t do it right,” she ponders), she loves tofu, and she proudly hangs a Melissa Etheridge poster in her bedroom. In this cookie-cutter suburb of Anytown USA, those are the telltale signs of lesbianism.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Richard T. Jameson

2000 Eyes: Reindeer Games

[Written for Mr. Showbiz]

The kindest thing to say about Reindeer Games is that we shall certainly see far worse movies this year. The picture, a would-be thriller, is a mechanical exercise from the get-go, one that positively defies suspension of disbelief with each succeeding twist of a plot no one would ever hatch in real life. Yet within its trashy parameters the lumbering robot-beast does manage to drag itself to the finish line—several times, in fact—and in retrospect one realizes that even its most dubious quick-change reversals were planted in the early reels. That’s more coherence than we can find in a lot of contemporary movies, and for such minimal consolation we must learn to be grateful.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton

2000 Eyes: John Frankenheimer interview

[Written for The Herald]

One of the cool things about John Frankenheimer is that he really looks like a classic American director. Tall, and still athletic-looking at the age of 70, Frankenheimer has a white-haired, hawk-faced largeness about him. Of course, it probably helps that I am meeting him in a Seattle hotel room so big it seems positively Roman emperor scaled. The director is here to do publicity for his new thriller Reindeer Games, but I am delighted to discover him just as willing to talk about his previous films.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Sean Axmaker

2000 Eyes: Unbreakable

[Written for Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

What if superheroes were real, not some four-color pulp fantasy or Spandex-and-mask-clad movie daredevil, but a part of the fabric of the world? That’s the core of Unbreakable, a potentially interesting idea deflated by the absurd proclamations of an arch screenplay and smothered under the ponderous gravity of M. Night Shyamalan’s dreary direction.

His much anticipated follow-up to The Sixth Sense draws heavily from that hit; the somber colors and hushed soundtrack create a similar mood of unease and otherworldliness, and Bruce Willis again plays a man disconnected from his life who must discover the secret that leaves him “unfulfilled” with the help of a young boy, in this case his son.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton

2000 Eyes: Shadow Magic

[Written for Film/com]

The lovely subject of Shadow Magic is enough to carry this somewhat awkward film over its rough spots and slow patches. The setting is Peking, around the year 1902, when Chinese culture was still fairly insulated from outside influence. We meet a photographer, Liu (Xia Yu), a very curious fellow in a society that discourages his curiosity. He plays with a Victrola, he builds himself a Zoetrope — he can’t stop fiddling around with things that have no place in his world.

Quite literally stumbling into Liu’s life comes Raymond Wallace (Jared Harris), a Westerner toting some very exotic equipment. Wallace’s scheme is to bring the newfangled technology of the Cinematograph — or motion picture, whatever you want to call it — to China. He is met with suspicion and hostility at every turn but, being a brash young man, sets up shop anyway.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton

2000 Eyes: Red Planet

[Written for Film.com]

Carrie-Anne Moss may be playing the captain of a mission to Mars, but she’s still subject to that ancient sci-fi convention: the non-essential shower scene. You’ve come a long way, baby, sort of. Actually, the shower scene in Red Planet tries to turn the tables, by having commander Moss unashamedly naked in front of the mission’s “maintenance man,” Val Kilmer, and thus dictating the sexual dynamics of the moment. But it’s still a shower scene.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Richard T. Jameson

2000 Eyes: What Planet Are You From?

[Written for Mr. Showbiz]

You’ve seen the ad: “To save his planet, an alien must find a woman on Earth to have his baby. There’s just one problem.” The accompanying image features a man’s tunic-clad torso, with hands resting near each other below waist level and a bent tulip dangling from his fingers, head terminally down. It’s droll, allusive, absurd, and elegant at the same time — a promise of good comedic fun from cable-TV comedy legend Garry Shandling and ace director-satirist Mike Nichols.

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