|HOME | REVIEWS | NEWS | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK
|SHADOWS ON THE TUBE
|Things caught on video or in a rerelease...
On this page: ANGELS IN AMERICA | BAR GIRLS | DOT THE I
NOT ANGELS BUT ANGELS | 2 SECONDS
< < M O R E | M O R E > >
If you have an film you want me to review - just ASK
|ANGELS IN AMERICA
The dual plot is extremely powerful: Louis (Shenkman) lets his Jewish guilt take over after he does the unthinkable and abandons his boyfriend Prior (Kirk) when he finds out Prior has Aids. Meanwhile, the good Mormon boy Joe (Wilson) is struggling to maintain his marriage to the chemically depressed Harper (Parker), even though he suspects he might be, unthinkably, gay. Joe's boss is notorious conservative Roy Cohn (Pacino), who has secrets of his own and is being cared for by a nurse (Wright) who's a friend of Prior's. Then Joe's mother (Streep) arrives in town and, surprisingly, really does sort things out.
This story is gripping and often intensely moving, but it's diluted by frequent forays into camp theatricality that are clearly supposed to be deeply emotional, but aren't. Most involve apparitions by an angel (Thompson) and the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg (Streep; most actors have multiple roles), as well as various ancestors and such. But they never add anything meaningful; they merely pad it out colourfully.
Performances are excellent, with Pacino stealing the film with a rough, sharp, snaky turn that grabs all the raw edges and throws them in our faces. And he's especially good in a few understated scenes. Streep's concerned and thoughtful mother is sheer perfection, to the point where she strangely takes over her son's part of the story in the end. But the film's heart is with Shenkmen and Wilson as two men who feel like they don't deserve to be loved.
This is serious storytelling that rambles badly, slips in some humour here and there, and cleverly brings out the harsh realities of the Reagan era. Some of it feels a bit rushed, other sequences simply don't work on film (they should have been left on stage where grand spectacle can work for its own sake). There's a lot of wacky, angry 'theology'. And the whole thing has a timid feel to it when it comes to its gay characters and relationships (maybe Six Feet Under has spoiled us with its astonishing honesty). The problem is that we don't really care about all the noble human spirit stuff; we want to care for the people themselves. This would make a terrific two-hour movie. [18 themes, language, nudity, some sex] 11.Sep.04
This is a breezy examination of attraction and human connections, and where the film focuses on real relationships and the way people alternate from flirty to shy, it's actually authentic and astute. But frequent injections of cliched comedy don't help. Some of the dialog is just too clever to be real (such as a "sometimes I love/hate you" conversation). While the characters themselves are forced to indulge in corny behaviour like trying far, far too hard to make each other jealous.
And the acting is uneven. Central roles are well-played, but side characters are contrived and cartoonish--too slutty, weasely, whatever. All of them are intriguing, but only a few actually become fully fledged human beings. The film could have perhaps used more animated clips; there are only one or two brief glimpses. And the reliance on dialog and one main setting (a badly decorated bar) exposes the film's origins as a stage play. Which might be a better place to allow both the comedy and telling drama to connect with an audience. [18 themes, language, sexuality] 27.Jun.05
|DOT THE I
Kit (Bernal) is a cheeky British-Brazilian guy in London who, with his two goofy buddies (Hardy and Cox), wants to be a filmmaker. One evening he meets a feisty Spanish girl, Carmen (Verbeke), and sparks fly. The problem is that she’s on her hen night, getting ready to marry a posh and very wealthy Englishman (D’Arcy). But everyone's hiding something--as jealousy, betrayal, mistrust and even murder rear their ugly heads.
Writer-director Parkhill nicely captures the energy and uncertainty of multi-cultural London. He keeps the film looking edgy and mysterious with security-camera angles, video clips and intriguing editing effects, building the tone of a thriller long before the story shifts out of romantic comedy mode. The early section feels like a caper movie, as Kit and Carmen come together and fall out, sneak around and get into trouble, all while revealing little lies about themselves.
This subtext draws us in--along with Bernal's and Verbeke's charming, sexy performances. 'Life is not a movie: good guys lose, love does not conquer all,' one of them says before the film cuts to a clever twist on The Graduate's wedding scene. And as the tone slowly shifts into something darker and more disturbing, Parkhill begins to unpeel these characters. Eventually we lose the ability to trust the film as we wait for the next revelation. This increasing nastiness gives the central romance a tragic tone, but it also leads to an iffy villain-explains-it-all monologue before the story tries to (predictably) pull the rug out from under us one more time. And some hammy acting in the climactic scenes kind of undermines the realistic and likeable work by Bernal and Verbeke. [15 themes, language, violence, sexuality] 7.Jun.05
|NOT ANGELS BUT ANGELS
Basic interviews with the boys contrast against the sinister pimp and images of Prague's historical beauty--all accompanied by classical music. The conversations are almost shockingly frank--these young men are willing to talk about everything from how their parents kicked them out of the house to their arrival on the streets, their first experience, what they charge, their strangest clients, their hopes and their fears (mostly of Aids, which they clearly know very little about). Sexuality is a big issue, as some show a revulsion for homosexuality--it's a distasteful job for them.
The film is so matter-of-fact that it's almost hard to watch--this is normal life for them all. As the film progresses, it becomes clear firstly how their innocence has been stolen from them by desperation, and also how little they know of the realities of the lifestyle they're trapped in. This is essentially a rough first draft of the much more carefully crafted Body Without Soul (Mandragora has a dramatic plot), and like that second film Grodecki seems to poke a bit too deep. We feel like voyeurs preying on these innocent-looking cherubs. [18 very strong themes and language, nrief nudity] 13.Jul.04
|2 SECONDS [2 secondes]
Laurier has a cheeky face like a little kid you can't say no to--reminiscent of Audrey Tatou in Amelie. She's so likeable that the entire film wins us over with her cheeky grin, naturalistic performances from the other cast members and several nicely filmed cycling scenes. The plot itself is rather corny, with some cheesy cutaways and flashbacks, awkward storytelling and a clunky jazz-lite score. But it's all so endearing that we hardly mind. The relationships between the various characters snap with real life, and there are moments of darkness in a few relationships, notably with a cocky colleague (Auclair), a violent competitor (Lauzon) and Laurie's ill mother (Forestier). But neither this nor the physics lesson (that the faster you travel the slower you age) weighs the film down. Yes, it's pure fluff, but we don't mind at all. [15 themes, language, nudity] 16.May.05
© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the WallHOME | REVIEWS | NEWS | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK