Day 7: 16 Sept 98

Living Out Loud

Richard LaGravenese
USA, 1998
102 minutes, Colour
Principal Cast:
Holly Hunter, Danny DeVito, Queen Latifah, Martin Donovan

  Gosh golly -- A gala Hollywood movie! Got a same-day ticket at the theatre. No waiting at all, except to get in. While in line, we (me, Mom, and Scott) tried to recall the last Hollywood film that we didn't dislike. I took out my diary and started working my way backwards. Flip. Flip. Flip. Um... Does this qualify as Hollywood? Nope, it's British. Oh, right. Flip, flip, flip.

I didn't know anything about his film going in except that Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito were in it. So was Martin Donovan, who was much himself, and always a pleasure to watch.

The film was not bad at all. Only one noticeable misstep which I thought upset the rhythm of the film. Competently written, reasonably made. I thought DeVito kept things in check. Will I remember this film a year from now? Five years from now? Probably there'll be a few of us.


Six-String Samurai

Lance Mungia
USA, 1998
91 minutes, Colour
Principal Cast:
Jeffrey Falcon, Justin McGuire, Stephane Gauger, John Sakisian
Satisfactory, but not for want of trying

  Hard to know how to sum up this film. It was definitely a midnight madness flick, and had a whole lot of visual panache and rollicking tunes. But I wish there had been more. Here's a good bit of dialogue:

-- If I were you, I'd run.
-- If you were me, you'd be good-looking.

The premise: In 1957 the Russians dropped the bomb. In 1997, Elvis The King dies. There is a call to Lost Vegas, the last bastion of freedom, for a new king. "Buddy" takes his 1957 six-string and samurai sword in hand for a journey through the badlands to the emerald city. Nods to many other film here: "Mad Max", "High Plains Drifter" (or any other Clint Eastwood western), "Wizard of Oz", and any number of films with furious swordplay.

Interlude: 'Neath A Blue Sky

  Breathing basil-scented air in that same park on Cumberland Ave. The humidity and clouds have passed leaving everything cool and dry. It turns out the smell is not basil after all, but rather soap fragrance from a shop across the road. But that doesn't make the sky any less blue.

La Vie Rêvée Des Anges

Erick Zonca
France, 1998
113 minutes, Colour
Principal Cast:
Elodie Bouchez, Natacha Régnier, Grégoire Colin, Jo Prestia, Patrick Mercado

  There is something about a French film... The way it follows characters instead of actions of grand events. Like being washed over by a wave, it feels mostly fabulous, then is gone without a trace. The water's still there, but in its non-wave form. The film was just like that.

It's the story of Isa and Marie, two young women, and their friendship over a span of a couple of months sitting a flat in the north of France. Marie becomes involved with a beefy bouncer and a "con mec" who runs the local bar. Isa reads the diary of the flat owner's daughter whom she visits in the hospital (she's in a coma). If you're asking "So what happens?" then just skip this film. I've already told you what happens. The reason to see this movie is for the two leads: Elodie Bouchez and Natacha Régnier (who is terribly pretty. Sad, but very pretty. To me, anyway.)

It's been an hour and a half since I got of the film, and as time goes by, I like it more and more. I think I react to some people the same way too. Does my impression of them improve with the embellishments of remembering?

Love Is The Devil

John Maybury
United Kingdom, 1998
91 minutes, Colour
Principal Cast:
Sir Derek Jacobi, Daniel Craig, Tilda Swinton, Adrian Scarborough, Anne Lambton, Anabel Brooks, Karl Johnson
Unsatisfactory, but good for technique.

  Back in the big house in the Varsity. Dave arrived just in time, which is somewhat sooner than I had expected. I think the film started late.

The reason for picking this film was probably Tilda Swinton. It sure wasn't the subject matter -- English painter Francis Bacon. Everything I know about Bacon I learned in this film. While there was some very innovative and fabulous camera work and photography, there just wasn't enough on which to hang the hat of my interest. At about the 60 minute mark, my patience was exhausted, and I started to observe the technique. Derek Jacobi is, of course, quite good

There's at least one clever line to take away from the film. As Bacon empties a bottle on a friend's head in a bar: "Champagne for my real friends. Real pain for my sham friends."

Some Q&A with Maybury:

Q: What drew you to this picture?
A: Nothing. I was asked to do it. And I said, "No."

Q: Why did you not show any of Bacon's paintings?
A: We had no choice. The estate of Francis Bacon refused to allow us to do so. They didn't need this movie; a small painting by Bacon sells for about £1 million. In fact it was very liberating not showing them. In early drafts of the script I tried ending scenes with a painting.

Q: Could you talk about the photography?
A: This was my first attempt at conventional film. I'd made a number of rather dodgy films that are good in their own way, but that relied heavily on special effects. Or "defects" some say. I wanted to make a concerted effort to make this as much in the "old school" was as possible [eschewing digital effects where possible.] For example, that last, or next-to-last scene where Bacon is in the bathroom and Gregory fades in and out -- we shot Jacobi, then rewound the film in the camera, then shot Daniel.

Q: What do you think about when you watch this film?
A: Maybe it's because I made it, but I tend to see the defects, so I don't really like watching it over and over again. and I'm always surprised when I hear that someone does.

While Dave was perhaps less unplussed than I, it was still a disappointing end to the day. I'm starting to accumulate a sleep debt that I expect to be pretty crushing by the time all this is done.

I later mentioned to Dave how I sometimes reach a point in a film that I'm not enjoying where I reach for an imaginary channel changer and start surfing. It seldom works except in programs of short films. But there I haven't needed one yet.

That's almost a nice segue into (the next day's) screenings.

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