Daily Archives: August 17, 2007

La Trinchera Luminosa Del Presidente Gonzalo

In Interkosmos, Chicago filmmaker Jim Finn used pseudodocumentary to create a hilariously dry form of speculative comedy. In this video any humor that might have been on his mind eluded me, but the pseudodocumentary uncovers a fascinating subject: an all-female Maoist terrorist group in Peru, most of them Indians, who were imprisoned in the late 1980s and turned their cell block into a guerrilla training camp that also held dances and staged Shakespeare plays (the title translates as The Shining Trench of President Gonzalo). Shot in New Mexico and based on detailed research, this fictionalized, theatrical depiction of their activities isn’t so much narrative as exposition and spectacle, engaging mainly because of its creepy subject matter. In Spanish and Navajo with subtitles. 60 min. (JR)… Read more »

Cut Sleeve Boys

Press notes describe Ray Cheung’s 2006 debut feature as a quirky, stir-fried journey of self-discovery and, ultimately, a makeover of the British-Chinese gay experience. Translate that addled jargon into movie terms and you’ve got an assortment of casual riffs on the London milieu of various Chinese homosexuals and transsexuals. Unfortunately the movie’s more interesting and challenging social aspects, which imply more than one British-Chinese gay experience, are often overtaken by its smarminessincluding the aggressive deployment of a banal score and the way some actors have apparently been encouraged to overwork their eyebrows. 86 min. (JR)… Read more »

Death At A Funeral

In & Out (1997) showed how adroit director Frank Oz can be with a well-written farce; Bowfinger (1999) showed how easily he can coast along with routine material, which is much closer to what happens here. A standard but serviceable vulgar farce, it chronicles all the embarrassing disasters that overtake mourners at a genteel English country funeral, with gags involving bathroom humor, a hallucinogenic drug, the wrong body in the coffin, a sexual scandal, and Peter Dinklage. If your taste runs in this direction, you’re bound to be amused. With Matthew Macfadyen, Keeley Hawes, Andy Nyman, Ewen Bremner, Daisy Donovan, and Jane Asher. R, 90 min. (JR)… Read more »

Flanders

A rustic in every respect, French director Bruno Dumont (The Life of Jesus, L’Humanit… Read more »

12:08 East Of Bucharest

Dry comedies from eastern Europe tend to cast a skeptical eye on anything and everything, which is certainly the case with Corneliu Porumboiu’s debut feature (2006), a Cannes prizewinner about memories of the 1989 Romanian revolution. In a nondescript village (Porumboiu’s real-life hometown), a TV talk show is organized so that a teacher and a pensioner can discuss what they were doing the day Ceausescu was deposed. Part of the minimalist humor growing out of this small-scale event is that they can barely remember anything, because the revolution scarcely made any difference. In Romanian with subtitles. 89 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Blue Light

Leni Riefenstahl’s first feature (1932) recounts an allegorical fairy tale about a beautiful village maiden (Riefenstahl) drawn to a mysterious light in the mountains and the artist (Mathias Weimann) who loves and ultimately destroys her. It provides a fascinating look at Riefenstahl’s giddy, rhapsodic talentswhich are often so close to those of Walt Disney, albeit in a live-action context, that they border on kitsch and campas well as ideological clues about the sensibility that produced the most powerful Nazi propaganda. In German with subtitles. 75 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Invasion

The third remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) may not be a patch on the original, but it does have a few things the other versions lack: a nonstop lurching pace propelled by jump cuts and flash-forwards, Nicole Kidman as the hero (taking over the part first played by Kevin McCarthy), a D.C. setting, and a bitter kind of satiric irony leaking around the edges that suggests maybe the body snatchers have a point. With Daniel Craig (in the Dana Wynter role) and Jeffrey Wright; directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) from a script by Dave Kajganich. R, 93 min. a Arlington, Chatham 14, Cicero ShowPlace 14, City North 14, Crown Glen 10, Crown Village 18, Elk Grove, Ford City, Gardens 7-13, Hollywood Boulevard, Lake Zurich, Marcus Addison, Melrose Park, Niles ShowPlace 12, Northbrook, Quarry, ShowPlace 14 Galewood Crossings, 600 N. Michigan, South Barrington 30, Streets of Woodfield, York, Yorktown. –Jonathan Rosenbaum… Read more »