Daily Archives: July 7, 2006

The Disorderly Orderly

This 1964 Jerry Lewis vehicle is the sixth and last directed by his gifted mentor, Frank Tashlin, though it resembles Lewis’s own directorial efforts in its focus on pain (it’s set almost exclusively in a hospital) and its trading of satire for surreal fantasy, improbably infused with brassy showbiz gusto (Sammy Davis Jr. sings the title tune). There’s also a Lewis-like emphasis on bizarre sound gags and abrasive villains (Everett Sloane as a Scrooge type) that contrasts with Tashlin’s cartoonish imagery and relative tolerance for fools and assholes. But Lewis’s infantile mannerisms are overtaken by the director, who treats the hero as a grown-up struggling with neurotic identification empathy, and the movie’s finale, with its cascading shopping carts, could only have come from Tashlin. With Glenda Farrell, Karen Sharpe, Kathleen Freeman, and Susan Oliver. 89 min. (JR)… Read more »

Who Killed The Electric Car?

Chris Paine’s documentary about General Motors’ development and withdrawal of the innovative, environment-friendly EV1 automobile is bound to reverberate with anyone who’s fallen in love with a product only to see it irrevocably yanked from the market. Nihilistic greed was the major factor when GM terminated the car in 2001, though Paine is also careful to note the passivity of the general public. Among his interviewees are Mel Gibson and Phyllis Diller, both EV1 enthusiasts, as well as GM spokespeople and ordinary customers. Martin Sheen narrates. PG, 91 min. (JR)… Read more »

The War Tapes

The best documentary to date about the military occupation of Iraq, this digital feature was shot there by five national guardsmen from New Hampshire. The narrative focuses on three of them: one grew up in Lebanon, speaks Arabic, and plans to reenlist; another thinks the war is about oil and describes his nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder; the third argues that he’s fighting for democracy, but he’s taking medication for his nerves and his wife insists he’s no longer the same person. Director Deborah Scranton and producer-editor Steve James (Hoop Dreams) don’t foist any particular thesis on us, but they arrange the material so that we’re obliged to think about it, and the feeling of immediacy is constant. 97 min. Music Box.… Read more »

A Scanner Darkly

Richard Linklater returns to the animated aesthetic of Waking Life for this adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s dystopian SF novel about slacker drug addicts and double agents in the Orange County of the future. Critic Gary Indiana has called Linklater the Dostoyevsky of movie dialogue, and certainly the compulsive jabber here can be as expressionist as the visuals. Compared to Waking Life, Bob Sabiston’s upgraded rotoscoping yields a steadier image and a more ambiguous blend of the drawn and the filmed, its uncertainty only complicated by the use of stars (Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder). The result is deliberately confusing but also mesmerizing and politically provocative. R, 100 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Esquire, Pipers Alley.… Read more »