Daily Archives: March 8, 2018

Poetry in Motion [THELMA & LOUISE]

From the June 7, 1991 Chicago Reader. — J.R.


*** (A must-see)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Written by Callie Khouri

With Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Christopher McDonald, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brad Pitt, Timothy Carhart, and Lucinda Jenny.

I’m not quite sure precisely when Thelma & Louise kicks into high gear. Does it happen when Thelma (Geena Davis) holds up a convenience store, or much earlier, when Louise (Susan Sarandon) shoots a rapist (Timothy Carhart)? Does it happen when Thelma’s tyrannical husband (Christopher McDonald) steps on a pizza, or when Louise divests herself of her watch and jewelry in exchange for an old coot’s sun hat?

Whenever it happens, something starts to click, and the movie becomes mythical — mutates into a sort of classic before one’s eyes. This isn’t to say that it can thenceforth do no wrong; the flashback shots that punctuate the final credits are lamentable, a cheap attempt to add uplift to an ending that doesn’t need it. But the movie does take on a certain charmed existence, persuading one to forgive such lapses. After a rather slow beginning, this prosy film turns poetic; and when that happens, we’re no longer passive bystanders but active participants, along for the ride morally as well as physically.… Read more »

Searching for Taiwan [THE PUPPET MASTER]

From the Chicago Reader (December 3, 1993). — J.R.

THE PUPPET MASTER **** (Masterpiece)

Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien

Written by Wu Nien-jen, Chu Tien-wen, and Li Tien-lu

With Li Tien-lu, Lin Chung, Cheng Kuei-chung, Cho Ju-wei, Hung Liu, and Bai Ming-hwa


Let’s start with three central and related facts, the first about Taiwan, the second about Taiwanese cinema, and the third about us. (1) Until six years ago, Taiwan spent this whole century under martial law, and over three previous centuries it suffered from nearly continuous occupation — by the Dutch in the 17th century and the Manchus in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. In 1895 it was ceded to Japan as one of the spoils of the Sino-Japanese war, and it remained a Japanese colony for the next half century, until the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. At this point mainland China took control; but four years later, when the communists seized the mainland, the deposed Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek, shifted their base to Taiwan — claiming that their rule was only temporary, until they could wrest the mainland back from the communists. But as it turned out they remained in power until 1987, when Taiwan finally became a democracy.… Read more »