This is an expanded version of an article published originally (on October 8, 1993) in the Chicago Reader; the Australian DVD label Madman commissioned this longer piece in the summer of 2009. — J.R.
Let’s start with a dream scenario, a movie that might have been. What if Luis Buñuel made a picture with an American producer, American screenwriter, and American actors during the height of the civil rights movement and set it in the rural south? What if the main character were a jazz musician from the north fleeing from a southern lynching, falsely accused of raping a woman? And, to make a still headier brew, what if Buñuel decided to work in the theme of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, a recent best-seller — the deflowering of a young girl by a middle-aged man?
As a piece of exploitation, this hypothetical project fairly sizzles; yet in the hands of a poetic, corrosive, highly moral filmmaker like Buñuel, it might conceivably transcend this category. Allowing for the strangeness that naturally arise from a foreign director taking on such volatile American materials — indeed, a strangeness that might enhance the freshness of his treatment -—one could well anticipate the beauty and excitement such an encounter might produce.… Read more »
If this Chicago Reader review from November 15, 1996 is of any interest today, I suspect this is more because of what it has to say about Australia and the U.S. than because of what has to say about a rather forgettable Bill Murray comedy. —J.R.
Larger Than Life
Rating ** Worth seeing
Directed by Howard Franklin
Written by Roy Blount Jr., Pen Densham, and Garry Williams
With Bill Murray, Janeane Garofalo, Matthew McConaughey, Keith David, Pat Hingle, Jeremy Piven, Lois Smith, Anita Gillette, and Linda Fiorentino.
They say an elephant never forgets, but what they don’t say is, you’ll never forget an elephant. – Bill Murray in Larger Than Life
Farmer has bought an elephant at an auction. Gives him to Tom, Huck and Jim and they go about the country on him making no end of trouble. – from Mark Twain’s working notes for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Are you still suffering from postelection malaise? I’ve just gotten back from a couple of weeks in Australia, where voting is compulsory, and for all the complaints I heard about the downsizing of government services and ugly efforts to renege on aboriginal land rights and change immigration policies, the political atmosphere seemed decidedly less alienated and despairing than it does here.… Read more »