Monthly Archives: July 1997

Salut cousin!

Salut cousin!

Algerian filmmaker Merzak Allouache, whose remarkable 1994 feature Bab El-Oued City led to his exile, switches to a lighter mode in this entertaining and flavorsome 1996 comedy about an Algerian who turns up in Paris to collect a suitcase of contraband clothes (for his boss to sell back home) and winds up spending a few days with his cousin, a con artist. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, July 25, 6:00; Saturday and Sunday, July 26 and 27, 4:00; and Tuesday, July 29, 6:00; 312-443-3737.

–Jonathan Rosenbaum

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The Outpost

The Outpost

All things being equal, Peter Gothar’s Kafkaesque allegory (1994) periodically suggests a Hungarian variation on Tarkovsky’s Stalker, albeit one in which both comedy and sex play much more substantial roles. In the 1980s a divorced design engineer (Mari Nagy) learns she’s been “promoted” to run a remote branch office for the company that employs her; she leaves her hometown in good faith, knowing next to nothing about her new job or destination, for a journey through industrial devastation that gets progressively weirder and creepier. In some ways her successive male escorts prove even more sinister than the terrain. An engrossing head-scratcher that’s definitely worth checking out. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Saturday, July 19, 3:15 and 6:45, and Tuesday, July 22, 7:00, 773-281-4114. –Jonathan Rosenbaum

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Operation Condor

Operation Condor

Also known as Armor of God II, this 1990 Jackie Chan sequel has its hero searching for Nazi gold in Morocco at the behest of the United Nations, with no fewer than three spunky heroines in tow (Carol Cheng, Eva Cobo de Garcia, Shoko Ikeda). Dubbed in English for this rerelease, with Chan (who directed and cowrote the script) supplying his own lines, this is a much purer example of Hong Kong’s silly, exuberant popular cinema than a diluted and pretentious concoction like Face/Off. The intrigue and behavioral comedy (complete with voyeurism) may seem to come straight out of a Bob Hope farce, but the choreographed action and stunts are breathtaking. Burnham Plaza, Ford City, Hyde Park, Norridge, Old Orchard, Plaza, Water Tower, Webster Place.

–Jonathan Rosenbaum

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Star Maps

Given its heartfelt sincerity and its desire to adapt some of the tropes of Mexican movie melodrama, I wish I could recommend this American independent feature by Latino writer-director Miguel Arteta, but the stilted dialogue and camera style make this difficult. After spending two years in Mexico with his grandparents, a young Mexican-American (Douglas Spain) returns to Los Angeles; though he aspires to be a Hollywood actor, his pimp father (Efrain Figueroa) puts him to work as a roadside prostitute selling maps of the stars… Read more »

Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation

Maybe this isn’t 60s family entertainment at its absolute worst, but it’s still pretty awful. Henry Koster, the resident hack at Fox who directed The Robe, does what he can, which isn’t much, with a comic tale by Edward Streeter (Father of the Bride) about the mishaps of a family renting a house on the ocean for the summer. Shot in CinemaScope; with James Stewart, Maureen O’Hara, Fabian, John Saxon, Marie Wilson, Reginald Gardiner, and John McGiver. (JR)… Read more »

Tight Spot

The neglected but powerful noirmeister Phil Karlson shows how good he can be in this taut 1955 thriller about a former gangster’s moll (Ginger Rogers, no less) who agrees to work for the police. The script is by William Bowers; with Edward G. Robinson and Brian Keith. (JR)… Read more »

My Name Is Julia Ross

A fairly remarkable B-feature directed by the remarkable Joseph H. Lewis (Gun Crazy), this 1946 gothic noir stars Nina Foch at her most effective as a woman who answers a newspaper ad and winds up as the prisoner of a crazy family. Only 65 minutes long and dripping with low-budget resourcefulness. With Dame May Whitty and George Macready. (JR)… Read more »

Bang

This lively, very-low-budget exploitation film follows a young Japanese-American woman (Darling Narita) in Los Angeles as she’s evicted, groped by a film producer who’s pretending to audition her, and nearly raped by a motorcycle cop. After getting hold of the cop’s gun, handcuffing him to a tree, and making off with his uniform and bike, she gets a chance to see how his gear affects other people, not to mention herself. The first feature of a London-born writer-director who calls himself Ash, this was shot without permits, using a handheld camera and long takes. It’s an amateur effort in the best sense: raw, angry, often bordering on incoherence, but never less than watchable and full of renegade insights about the differences between the haves and the have-nots. The only familiar face here is Peter Greene (Laws of Gravity), hyperbolically acting up a storm as a homeless eccentric; Narita shows some uncertainty in spots but remains a striking figure, and everyone else manages to be energetic at the very least. Originally titled The Big Bang Theory when a somewhat longer cut went out on the festival circuit a couple of years ago. (JR)… Read more »