Films unlikely to be showing at your local multiplex...
< < M O R E | M O R E > >
last update 13.Apr.05
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
The Joy of Life   3/5
This offbeat experimental documentary features lovely images of a near-empty San Francisco while on the soundtrack Dodge talks in a rambling stream of consciousness. In the first half, she shares personal recollections about meeting friends, going on dates, having sex. There's an intriguing relationship between the voiceover and the imagery--a connection between people, nature, society, land and sea. And the introspective monolog touches on issues of love and self-loathing, desires and frustrations. It's a bit odd, like looking through a series of postcards while someone chatters in your ear about their personal life. But it's also strangely involving, and the camerawork beautifully captures the light and colours of the city. They're not the standard postcard pictures; they're much more intimate--secret places, quirky angles, astonishingly deserted streets.
  Then the film shifts, as the narration moves onto the topic of suicide and the visuals move to the Golden Gate Bridge. From here on the film is a history of the bridge as a suicide landmark, where at least 1300 people have taken their own lives. Writer-director Olson is reacting to the suicide of her friend, film festival organiser Mark Finch in 1995. And her script examines the city's suicidal history on film (in Capra's Meet John Doe and Hitchcock's Vertigo) before going into a detailed narrative about the bridge itself. It's not an easy film to engage with--the images are absolutely gorgeous, but disconnected and dispassionate. If the first half is personal and somewhat moving, the second half is like listening to a radio documentary. Both halves are a bit pretentious and indulgent, with rather a lot of navel-gazing. But there are flashes of brilliant observation that make it worth seeing. And rather important as well.
dir-scr Jenni Olson
voices Harriet 'Harry' Dodge, Lawrence Ferlinghetti
coco and mcmillian release UK 6.Apr.05 llgff
05/US 1h05

London L&G Film Fest
12 themes, language
7.Apr.05 llgff
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Kiki and Herb on the Rocks   3.5/5
Bringing their outrageous stage personae to the big screen for a mock behind-the-scenes documentary, Kiki and Herb survive the transition remarkably well. This rambling, improvised romp across London is full of hilarious bits of comic genius. And much of the best humour is so close to the bone that you're not sure whether to laugh or ring Homeland Security.
  Like Elaine Stritch on nerve powder, Kiki DuRane (Bond) is a cabaret phenomenon still hanging in there (just) after about 70 years in the business. With her faithful keyboardist Herb (Mellman), she arrives in London with delusions of grandeur, ordering the limo--oops, "people mover"--to take them to the theatre where Les Mis used to be, which is where she's sure they'll be performing. But actually, the local organisers have them booked for a series of shows aboard the HMS President, a boat permanently moored on the Thames, not nearly close enough to the West End for Kiki's liking. And then there's her desperate fear of water. Although another whisky should take care of that.
  Basically the film is a to-camera monologue with Kiki incessantly ranting about life on the road, peppered with her trademark opinions and background stories. Bond is so hysterically funny that no one on screen can keep a straight face, Mellman included. Everyone ends up giggling in a corner at Kiki's last gonzo outburst. As a result, the relationship between these two performers is hilarious--a series of smirks and nods that actually say volumes about their years on the road. And in the way Kiki interacts with the various people who cross their path, the filmmakers and performers make some astute comments about show business.
  But this is essentially a silly, scruffy little documentary. It feels homemade--there are no production values to speak of. But in getting these personae up there on the big screen, it's still worth celebrating. Kiki and Herb are such a delightfully unhinged combination of performance art, cabaret, drag and stand-up that you won't want to miss their next tour. Even if it involves boarding a boat.
dir Mike Nicholls
with Justin Bond, Kenny Mellman, Tim Whitehead
mellman and bond
release UK 2.Apr.05 llgff
05/UK 1h05

London L&G Film Fest
12 adult themes, vulgarity
11.Apr.05 llgff
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
The Tasty Bust Reunion   3.5/5
Only an Australian filmmaker would make a quirky and often hilarious documentary about such a serious event. It's an engaging film full of memorable people who express their personalities with humour and irony, all while talking about a horrific night.
  In the early 1990s, the Tasty Club was the hottest spot in Melbourne, a metrosexual mecca where people could be themselves and party all night. Then in August 1994 the police raided the club, saying they were searching for illegal drugs. They expected to arrest hundreds, but there were no drugs. Their heavy-handed, brutal methods (463 people in the club were strip-searched!) were reported in the press, and a subsequent trial exposed deep homophobia within the police force. Nothing like this ever happened in a straight club.
  The interviewees in this film are strikingly outspoken about that night, talking openly about how the situation shifted from ridiculous to hellish. All talk of their helplessness in the face of cruel authority--even though the cops were clearly out of line, they felt powerless to resist. Especially since the Melbourne police force had a history of being trigger-happy. They also talk about their feelings after the fact, their growing outrage that it must never happen again, and the one woman (Gordon) who sat in the hot seat in the courtroom and brought the police force to its knees, as it were.
  But being Aussie, this film is never overly serious about it. The interviewees are chatty and funny, full of attitude and clearly taking the situation in stride, even as they acknowledge its gravity. In the end the filmmakers take us to a reunion of these clubbers 10 years later as they talk about how they spent their lawsuit money and maintain a remarkable perspective on events that not only changed their lives but the entire country. It's all a bit goofy, with corny dramatisations and some fairly rough editing. But it's also fascinating, important and surprisingly entertaining.
dir Stephen MacLean
with Gavin Campbell, Steven de Jong, Sally Gordon, Gary Singer, Jason Prior, Paul Main, Sarah Pax, Miss Vic, Adam Dawson, Steven Berg, David Green, Eric Salter
re-enactment release UK 8.Apr.05 llgff
04/Australia 52m

London L&G Film Fest
15 themes, language, nudity
17.Mar.05 llgff
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Race You to the Bottom   2.5/5
There's an almost fatally low-key tone to this romantic comedy that undermines any goodwill it generates through its intriguing plotting and solid performances. While the filmmaking shows natural skill, the movie lacks the energy and passion needed to really engage the audience.
  Nathan and Maggie (Williams and Benson) are university friends whose respective boyfriends (Lelliott and Zachary) have no idea that they're having a fling. So when Maggie accompanies Nathan on a work trip (he's a travel writer) to Napa Valley wine country, no one suspects anything. Even when he casually seduces another friend (Hartley) en route. But Nathan and Maggie finally get tired of all the games, and begin to take out their frustration on each other. Or are they really in love?
  There's real chemistry between Williams and Benson--enough to carry us through the film, even though it's not remotely sparky. They feel more like an old married couple than illicit lovers. Or perhaps a gay boy and his loyal hag. They're terrific actors, and work extremely well as on-screen friends. But there's no romantic life between them, which leaves the film flat on the floor. Besides the low energy levels, the chatty dialog is a bit too knowing for its own good, and the characters themselves are never likable. These extremely self-absorbed people don't deserve each other--or anyone else really. Nathan is a relentless flirt; Maggie is passive-aggressive. And the actors play them a bit too well.
  That said, what they talk about is quite insightful, in a slightly over-written sort of way. The film is an examination of the intimacy and intensity of relationships, and how difficult it is to get them right. This is a compelling theme, and the plot itself is inventive, with potential to be something much more raucous than this. Writer-director Brown has a nice visual touch, catching the California sunshine and cleverly editing in flashbacks and cutaways to let us see the whole picture. But he never builds the plot to anything terribly meaningful, avoiding the big climactic epiphany for a more low-key epilogue. But by then we've already been lulled to sleep.
dir-scr Russell Brown
with Cole Williams, Amber Benson, Jeremy Lelliott, Justin Zachary, Justin Hartley, Danielle Harris
benson and williams release UK 6.Apr.05 llgff,
US 30.Mar.07
05/US 1h15

London L&G Film Fest
15 themes, language, innuendo
11.Apr.05 llgff
back to the top Send Shadows your reviews!

< < M O R E | M O R E > >

© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall