This is the last film that the IFS will be showing from the "2000 SEEN BYE" series, from which seven independent filmmakers were approached to offer their varying perspectives on the issue of what will happen when we enter the next millennium. Director Tsai Ming Liang offers a glimpse of Taiwan, seven days to the 21st century, where a mysterious disease reaches epidemic proportions. The government demands a massive transfer out of the quarantine zone. Officials warn those residents that the garbage will go uncollected and the water supply will be gone soon. But some residents still refuse to move away. After Rebels of the Neon God, Tsai Ming Liang's second film Vive l'Amour! Won the Lion d'Or in Venice in 1994. His following one, The River, won the Silver Bear at the 1997 Berlin Film Festival. He is considered one of Asia's most off-beat and brilliant filmmakers, and his work shows a radical and uncompromising vision of modern society which is frightening and simultaneously frightfully funny.
An uproariously funny look at the phenomenon born from the Star Trek saga, Trekkies explores the world of what is arguably the most devoted group of fans of any given television and/or movie series. Hosted by Denise Crosby, best known for her role as Tasha Yar on TV's Star Trek: The Next Generation, the documentary mishmashes days in the ordinary lives of Star Trek devotees with footage from Trek conventions and anecdotes shared by actors and actresses who are or have been a part of the now legendary franchise. Despite what might seem to be a simple mocking of extreme and, at times, obsessive behavior, director Roger Nygard displays a conscientious effort to respect the subjects of his documentary; largely doing so by allowing them, as well as their friends, families and co-workers, to convey the good-hearted and rather likeable qualities of each Trekkie. As for the Trekkies (or Trekkers -- a debate that is loosely touched on in the film) themselves, their comfort level with the on-screen depictions will depend on whether they feel unfairly stereotyped or able-to-laugh-at-oneself amused by some of the excessive cases of Trekmania. (Francesca Dinglasan)
After Life is set at a way station between Heaven and Earth. There, guides have less than a week to help the newly dead sift through their memories for one defining moment to take with them to Heaven. As the film discovers, finding a life's worth of meaning in a single event is no simple task. Interactions between the soul-searching dead and their dedicated guides explore the range of human experience. The film centers on the grudging respect that develops between Watanabe, an undistinguished old man, coming to terms with his uneventful life, and Mochizuki, the young guide assigned to help him. After Life draws on the recollections of hundreds of elderly Japanese, some of whom join the cast of the film. Their stories reveal not only their personal pleasures and horrors, but also the broader history of postwar Japan. By portraying characters struggling to come to terms with the past, the film explores our attachment to life - bursting with pride and falsehood, pain, and pleasure -- and, most importantly, to love. Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda.
This update of the 1958 classic utilizes gene-splitting and computers to explain how the molecules of a human and a housefly are intermixed. Director David Cronenberg (who co-wrote with Charles Edward Pogue) is again fascinated with deformity and the "beasts from within" theme as scientist Jeff Goldblum devises telepods to teleport matter. Chris Walas' Oscar-winning human/fly effects are a knockout - and the head of the fly is on display at the C.U. Fine Arts Gallery as part of the Spectacular Optical Exhibit running there through November 3rd! This film remains, to date, David Cronenberg's most commercially successful film (it spawned a sequel that was directed by Chris Walas). The Fly mixes Cronenberg's legendary taste for the bizarre with a genuinely moving love story that is given credibility by the heartfelt performances of Goldblum and Geena Davis (this was not only her starmaking role, she was actually married to Goldblum at the time). This remake is full of deft homages to the original - the famous "help me!" line is even utilized - and features an amusing cameo by Cronenberg as a nightmare gynecologist (a role that gave him a couple ideas for for his next filmÉ Dead Ringers).
This intense psychological drama is full of Cronenbergian preoccupations; fear of physical and mental disintegration, mortality, and the power struggle between the sexes. The film is loosely based on a true story of twin New York City doctors who died in 1975. Jeremy Irons delivers two powerhouse performances, via seamless split screen projection, as the brilliant and eccentric Toronto gynecologists Beverly and Elliot Mantle, two doctors who share everything - until one falls for a movie star (Genevieve Bujold). Check out the actual gynecological instruments that Cronenberg designed for the film on display at the Fine Arts Spectacular Optical Exhibit running through November 3rd.
Most IFS patrons know of Spanish director J. J. Bigas Luna as the director of beautiful and erotically hypercharged films such as Jamon, Jamon and The Chambermaid on the Titanic. Early in his career, however, he came out with this strikingly original, intricately constructed, and extremely gruesome horror film about a mother-fixated opthalmologist's assistant with an unhealthy interest in eyeballs. Well, that's one of the stories, at leastÉ There's a postmodern, Chinese box structure to this film that further exploits the notion that horror is in the eye of the beholder. This is a film rarity that you won't find on the big screen anywhere else - guaranteed.
eXistenZ marks the first time David Cronenberg has returned to a wholly original work since Videodrome - the film his fans regard as his quintessential work because it most effectively captures the alarming nature of cinema's invasion of the passive self. eXistenZ is Videodrome's inverse twin, in which the interactive self invades cinema. Shy, sexy Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is an adored game devising goddess in a near future in which the inventors of virtual-reality games have become cultural megastars. Her new game, eXistenZ, plugs so effectively into an individual's desires and fears that the frontiers between fantasy and reality disappear, leaving the player wandering compassless in landscapes and situations that may or may not be of their own imagining. The film was influenced in part by an interview in 1995 of Salman Rushdie by Cronenberg. The director tested his ideas out on the fugitive writer and "We talked about games and computers because, being on the run, he needed to work on a laptop. That meeting crystallized things for me, so I posited a time when games could be an art, and a game designer an artist." (Chris Rodley)
This has been the smoking century. Cigarettes got big as the century began, and in the '20s a whole generation of young women announced their liberation by taking up the habit. In the '30s and particularly the '40s, smoking was associated with good things -- glamour, sex, even heroism. All the good guys smoked back then, including world leaders: Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill. Hitler, conversely, not only didn't smoke but also made his girlfriend Eva Braun quit. The fuhrer believed that kissing a fraulein who smoked was like licking an ashtray. He was that kind of guy. The Last Cigarette is about the mystique, controversy and many associations surrounding tobacco, mainly cigarettes. Directors Kevin Rafferty (Atomic Cafe, Feed) and Frank Keraudren use Hollywood movies, '50s TV commercials, '60s anti-smoking films and "smoke porn" videos of recent vintage to create a kind of poem or fever dream on the subject. (Mick LaSalle)
The Castle, directed by Rob Sitch, is one of those comic treasures like The Full Monty and Waking Ned Devine that shows its characters in the full bloom of glorious eccentricity. The Kerrigans may be the proudest and happiest family you've ever met, what with Dad's prosperous tow truck business and the inventions of Steve (Anthony Simcoe), the "idea man" who specializes in fitting tools together so they can do two jobs equally badly. Tracy (Sophie Lee) is the only college graduate (from beauty school), and Dale (Stephen Curry) is the narrator. So tightly knit is the family that Dale proudly reports that during mealtimes, "The television is definitely turned down." So it is with a real sense of loss that the Kerrigans discover they may be evicted from their castle. This is the sort of movie the British used to make in black and white, starring Peter Sellers, Alec Guinness, Terry-Thomas and Ian Carmichael. It's about characters who have a rock-solid view of the universe and their place in it, and gaze out upon the world from the high vantage point of the home that is their castle. The movie is not shocking or daring or vulgar, but sublimely content--as content as the Kerrigans. (Roger Ebert)
Lenny Bruce said the reason call girls call customers tricks is that they trick them into thinking they love them. The new gay comedy Trick is not about prostitutes, but a couple of young men who can't find a place for a one-night stand. It gives a nice spin to what Bruce said about tricks and love. In Trick, a novice musical-comedy writer picks up a go-go boy, and their nightlong effort to find a place to be alone turns into one of the best gay comedies in many a moon. Christian Campbell (Neve's brother) and John Paul Pitoc are the thwarted couple, and Tori Spelling (Beverly Hills 90210 for nine long seasons) is one of the Greenwich Village characters who keeps getting in their way. During the course of the long evening, they run across Perry's ex- lover and, at a club, old tricks of Mark's, including a vicious drag queen. All of these encounters allow Gabe to see how Mark behaves with other people; in other words, to see him as more than a trick. The result is a gay comedy that never once looks over its shoulder for approval of non-gay audiences, and they, too, should like it all the more for it. (Bob Graham)
Bernardo Bertolluci, flush with box office success after the release of Last Tango in Paris, put his new earnings into this panoramic vision of Italian political, social and cultural history from the beginning of the century to the present. Events are filtered through the parallel and intersecting lives of a peasant (Gerard Depardieu) and a land-owner (Robert De Niro). Bertolucci indulges his love of spectacle, while trying, at the same time, to balance it with his ideological concerns. It's a film that turns away from the introspection of Bertolluci's previous films and aims, instead, for a popular movie of the class struggle using the style of both American epics and the lyrical Soviet cinema of the 1930's. It is operatic, didactic, bombastic, mean, moody and magnificent to look at - with the second part (being screened at this same time, next week) veering into hyper-Baroque terrain.
A film of immense importance and beauty - its ending is one of the most haunting in all cinema - the legendary Les Bonnes Femmes returns to circulation in a brand new print after decades of being unavailable. Godard chose Femmes as the best film of 1960, and Fassbinder cited it as a personal favourite - "the most tender of Chabrol's films." (It is easy to discern in the film's denouement the source of the famous sequence of Mieze's death in Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz.) Les Bonnes Femmes is the cruel, moving portrait of "shop girls" searching for happiness in Paris. (It was called Good Time Girls on its original North American release.) They escape their repetitive lives of lies, work, and mechanical sex in different ways: one in a boring marriage, one in relentless partying, and, this being Chabrol, one in death. Both poetic - Henri Decae's cinematography is superb, especially his shots of the Champs Elysees in the rain - and highly formal in its structure, Les Bonnes Femmes "is generally regarded as Chabrol's most important film during this period... the best of his early films" (James Monaco).
Filmed in a remote area of Sichuan Province without Chinese government permission, Joan Chen's impressive first feature tells one individual story - out of millions more worth telling - taking place in the collective madness of the Cultural Revolution. A teenage girl is "sent down" to the country to learn to appreciate the rustic virtues of this taciturn herdsman, but still yearns to return to the city. What appears to be a coming-of-age idyll in a spectacular grasslands setting takes a tragic turn as Joan Chen tackles three subjects still taboo in official mainland filmmaking: the cultural revolution, sexual exploitation, and Tibetan-Han interpersonal relations. Above all, she illuminates the brief heart-stopping flight of one human soul - delicate as a butterfly - across the dark skies of this century's cruel firmament.
The second part to Bertolucci's epic continues tonight. According to Bertolucci, 1900 is a "recollection, a collage of my childhood, my friends, and of my father." While he came from a middle-class family, he spent much of his childhood with the peasants in the Parma countryside where he was born in 1941 - and many of these experiences directly informed 1900. The film is structured with the rhythm of the seasons; boyhood scenes are set in the warmth of summer, autumn and winter for the rise of Mussolini to power, and finally springtime for the resurgence of hope and freedom that followed the defeat of the fascists at the end of World War II. The last 30 minutes - symbolic of revolution and post-revolution - goes well beyond the bombastic, and into greatness.
The Olympics of Advertising continues! And "overwhelming" is a word that might best describe the daunting task facing the 23 jurors who congregated in the south of France at the Cannes International Advertising Film Festival to whittle almost five thousand cinema and television commercials into a polished collection of 100 top spots. The World's Best Commercials 1998 delivers the finest collection from 22 countries. People familiar with this long-running series know to expect unusual views from around the world, varying in tone from hilarious to shocking - and everything in-between. This time the commercials are packaged into the following categories: Representation, Contemporary Issues, Public Service Announcements, Visual Narrative, and Popular Culture.
The final installment in Eric Rohmer's Tales of Four Seasons series, this story of love lost and love found is deceptively simple. Isabelle (Marie Riviere), a married woman, secretly places an ad in the paper in the hopes of finding a man for her single friend Magali (Beatrice Romand). However, Magali, who is lonely, also has grown accustomed to being alone. Rohmer has been making films for 40 years, and studying the rhythms of human life for much longer, and Autumn Tale is as perceptive, as articulate and as passionate as any of his vintage works. Autumn Tale is also bittersweet, more so than the other films in the series (A Tale of Springtime, '89, A Winter's Tale, '91, A Summer's Tale, '96) and the characters are more mature, charming and careful. This highly nuanced film moves effortlessly through time, in a typically Rohmeresque manner.
A young lawyer, David Burton (Richard Chamberlain), lives the bourgeois life to which so many male law students aspire. He's a tax lawyer with a handsome wife, two beautiful little girls, and nice house in the suburbs of Sydney. He even does a little pro bono on the side, representing indigents in the criminal courts. Legal Aid asks Burton to represent four Aborigine youths accused of killing another Aborigine in a drunken brawl. Burton accepts the case and then layer after layer of "law" starts to unpeel until we get to even more interesting questions regarding the connection between the temporal secular law of Australia and the law of "dream time" - the atemporal psychic space which the Aborigines feel to be more "real" than temporal reality. Chamberlain pleads with one of the defendants to tell the truth so he can get him off and makes a comment any liberal western lawyer might make: "Surely people are more important than the law." But the Aborigine quickly corrects him: "No, the law is more important than man." He of course is not talking about the penal code, but law in some more ultimate sense. Finally Burton finds out that he too has a connection to that larger "law" with which we seem to have lost touch. Should we be searching for it? Or is it just a dream? (John Denvir) Directed by Peter Weir.
Black Cat, White Cat, Bosnian-born filmmaker Emir Kusturica's long-delayed and much- anticipated follow-up to his 1995 Cannes Palme d'Or winner, the controversial Underground, emerges as a colorful, mixture of slapstick and folklore that stands a good chance of delighting arthouse audiences the world over. There's hardly a hint of Balkan politics in this prodigiously well-made, frantically paced comedy, which is filled to the brim with colorful characters involved in sometimes familiar but always engaging situations. The people here, like those in Kusturica's 1989 Cannes prize winner, Time of the Gypsies, are Gypsies who live on the banks of the Danube river. These cheerful outcasts, who inhabit roughly constructed, semi-permanent dwellings, make a living via all kinds of skullduggery, and their currency of choice is the Deutsche mark. Kusturica clearly adores these larger-than-life characters, and his film is filled with wonderfully expressive faces and personalities. Kusturica has made his funniest film with this crowd-pleaser, and a rousing soundtrack of Gypsy songs and music helps the fun along. (David Stratton)
A successful film maker (Mastroianni) is committed to an ambitious new production but is bankrupt of ideas. Exhausted and hounded by his wife and mistress, but stimulated by a famous actress, he escapes into childhood memories and sexual fantasies. He finally realizes his own artistic future lies within his own experiences of life. This unique work, which received the first prize at the 1963 Moscow Festival, focuses on a "film maker who is trying to pull together the pieces of his life till now and make sense of them" (Fellini). However, Fellini ends by "portraying the many facets of a man's character at the age of 45" and creating in some ways a 20th-century version of The Inferno. Its theme does not relate only to the world of cinema, and its extremely elaborate story and style cannot be considered "jumbled" as some critics have claimed. Fellini himself considers that his film "can be described as something between a muddled visit to a psychiatrist and an examination of a disordered conscience with Limbo as the setting. It is a melancholy film, almost funereal, but emphatically comic.(Georges Sadoul)