2004 log (10)

(1 Oct) I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978, Robert Zemeckis) 32
(1 Oct) Used Cars (1980, Robert Zemeckis) 23
(2 Oct) Romancing the Stone (1984, Robert Zemeckis) 61
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(5 Oct) Ryan (2004, Chris Landreth) 84
(5 Oct) clean (2004, Olivier Assayas) 46
[ Part of our Festival du Nouveau Cinéma coverage ]

(5 Oct) A Life Less Ordinary (1997, Danny Boyle) 51
(5 Oct) vacuuming completely nude in paradise (2001, Danny Boyle) 79
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(7 Oct) Demi-Tarif (2004, Isild Le Besco) 37
(7 Oct) The Fuccons (2001, Ishibashi Yoshimasa) ???
[ Part of our Festival du Nouveau Cinéma coverage ]

(7 Oct) La mygale jaune (2003, Jean Leclerc) 68
[ For the better part of 15 years, Jean Leclerc was Jean Leloup, John the Wolf, Quebec’s most original and iconic rocker. Part poet, part guitar hero, Leloup galvanized a whole generation with his music and touched them with his words. Last year, though, he decided to call it quits, not for the first time but allegedly for the last. This film depicts the last days of his larger than life public persona. We see him on stage for a final performance, hear him talk about why he wants to leave this lifestyle (with his usual irreverence, natch) and witness the Viking funeral of his guitar, which he sends upon a burning raft on the Yamaska river. Technically, this isn’t much of a movie: shots are often shaky or out of focus and the editing is messy. Then again, Leclerc/Leloup is an always enjoyable presence, funny and oddly moving at times, and his songs are amazing. ]

(8 Oct) mémoires affectives (2004, Francis Leclerc) 63
(12 Oct) Childstar (2004, Don McKellar) 26
(14 Oct) Vera Drake (2004, Mike Leigh) 70
[ Part of our Festival du Nouveau Cinéma coverage ]

(14 Oct) Baadasssss! (2004, Mario Van Peebles) 22
[ When Melvin Van Peebles made “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”, it revolutionized the way African-Americans are represented in movies. Sidney Poitier had already cracked the door open, but Van Peebles blew it out of is hinges! Getting there was a struggle, no doubt, and this is an interesting subject for a film, but “Baadasssss” doesn’t deliver. It’s marred by choppy storytelling, over-reliance on narration and (fake) talking-heads segments, unfunny attempts at humor and flat dramatics, caricatural depiction of ‘60s counterculture and simplistic views on race. Most damning is how boring the flick is. This is a great story, but we never feel it. In fact, the little “The Birth of Black Cinema” featurette on the DVD is more compelling than anything in the actual movie. ]

(15 Oct) Team America: World Police (2004, Trey Parker) [ review ] 92

(16 Oct) Swimming to Cambodia (1987, Jonathan Demme) 76
[ Spalding Gray is a truly amazing storyteller, able to make the littlest things like the most complex fascinating. This live stage performance has him talking about being cast in “The Killing Fields”, which leads to a passionate exposé about the secret American bombings of Cambodia and the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge, followed by Gray’s account of his adventures in Thailand in search of the “perfect moment”. These tales are sometimes funny, sometimes moving, always compelling. ]

(18 Oct) La Lune viendra d’elle-même (2004, Marie-Jan Seille) 15
[ Aimée (Isabelle Leblanc) is losing her struggle with AIDS and her boyfriend (the Artist formerly known as Jean Leloup) has abandoned her, but she still has her friend Francine (France Castel) accompanying her until the end. Here’s another film with a heavy subject it isn’t able to transcend. Writer-director Marie-Jan Seille spells things out too squarely and her attempts at symbolism fall flat. Castel breathes compassion, but Leblanc is insufferable in her long, slow, boring agony and the movie offers no greater insights than “Dying’s a bitch, eh.” Thanks for the heads-up, now can I have my 2 hours back? ]

(18 Oct) Young Adam (2004, David Mackenzie) 57
[ The sounds around the barge, the Dave Byrne score, the sharp cinematography, the Scottish accents… Me likey. Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton and Emily Mortimer, sexual tension and tense sex… Me likey a lot. The plot’s not great and the pacing’s on the slow side, but this is a pretty hot film overall. “You know what you can do with your custard?” ]

(19 Oct) Sign Ø’ the Times (1987, Prince) 69
[ The “dramatic” sequences intercut through this concert film are more silly than anything, but the live stage performance is awesome. Prince is an outrageous showman and a musical genius, his band is on fire and this is a spectacular production full of contagious enthusiasm. Why isn’t it on DVD? ]

(19 Oct) The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things (2004, Asia Argento) 62
[ Part of our Festival du Nouveau Cinéma coverage) ]

(20 Oct) Stand by Me (1986, Rob Reiner) 77
[ This Stephen King adaptation is short on horror but full of character and period detail. In 1959 Castle Rock (oddly transposed from Maine to Oregon), four kids go on a trek to find the body of a missing teenager. Featuring early performances from Wil Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell, Corey Feldman, John Cusack, Kiefer Sutherland and the late River Phoenix, this is a touching coming of age story full of exciting twists. ]

(20 Oct) Take the Money and Run (1969, Woody Allen) 71
(21 Oct) bananas (1971, Woody Allen) 64
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(21 Oct) Tarnation (2004, Jonathan Caouette) [ review ] 90

(23 Oct) Palindromes (2004, Todd Solondz) 48
[ Part of our Festival du Nouveau Cinéma coverage) ]

(24 Oct) Mean Girls (2004, Mark S. Waters) [ review ] 71

(25 Oct) Comme une image (2004, Agnès Jaoui) 36
[ Agnès Jaoui’s second directorial effort follows a bunch of miserable bourgeois French artists as they go to restaurants, parties and weekends in the country. Everyone’s always bitching about everything, especially Jean-Pierre Bacri’s novelist character, but at least he’s funny doing it, maybe because as co-writer of the film, he’s given himself all the good lines. The rest of the cast only take his casual condescension, then complain about it behind his back. Whiniest of all is his fat daughter, increasingly self-conscious because of her father’s inconsiderate ways. Why this won the Best Screenplay award at the last Cannes festival escapes me. ]

(26 Oct) Birth (2004, Jonathan Glazer) [ review ] 41

(26 Oct) Ripoux 3 (2004, Claude Zidi) 33
[ Twenty years after making the original “Les Ripoux”, Claude Zidi brings us the third film in the cult series. While former dirty cop François (Thierry Lhermitte) has apparently become clean, his former partner René (Philippe Noiret) is still a “flambeur” always looking for a good scam. Through a contrived plot involving mistaken identities, the two old buddies and police rookie Julien (Lorant Deutsch, once Jessica Barker’s sidekick in “Les Intrépides”!) will somehow be brought together for the climactic heist. “Ripoux 3” is a mixed bag. Noiret and Lhermitte still have chemistry, but the film could have done without the racist Chinese stereotypes, the cheesy score by Francis Lai (who also composed the music for “Emmanuelle”, unsurprisingly) and the odd sentimental streak that makes the comedy feel like an afterthought. ]

(27 Oct) Everything you always wanted to know about sex* But were afraid to ask (1972, Woody Allen) 40
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(28 Oct) 7 ans de Mariage… (2004, Didier Bourdon) 22
[ Didier Bourdon (who also wrote and directed the film) and Catherine Frot are a bored married couple experiencing the infamous seven year itch. On the advice of a sex therapist friend, Bourdon decides to shake things up by sharing his sexual fantasies with his wife and bringing her to swingers clubs, unaware that he’ll awaken a sexy beast he might not be able to handle. This sounds risqué, but the movie is actually boring and unadventurous. A little less conversation and a little more action might have helped, but Bourdon’s suburban idea of perversion is the real problem here. ]

(28 Oct) i ♥ huckabees (2004, David O. Russell) [ review ] 69

(29 Oct) Ray (2004, Taylor Hackford) [ review ] 78

(29 Oct) Sleeper (1973, Woody Allen) 65
(30 Oct) Love and Death (1975, Woody Allen) 89
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

September / November