Daily Archives: January 4, 2019

A Breakthrough And A Throwback

From the September 3, 1999 Chicago Reader. It seems worth reposting because, I’m happy to report, both these films are now available on DVD, although All the Little Animals is rather pricey. — J.R.

Mr. Zhao

Rating *** A must see

Directed by Lu Yue

Written by Shu Ping

With Shi Jingming, Zhang Zhihua, Chen Yinan, and Jiang Wenli.

All The Little Animals

Rating *** A must see

Directed by Jeremy Thomas

Written by Eski Thomas

With John Hurt, Christian Bale, Daniel Benzali, James Faulkner, and John O’Toole.

Two of the best movies of 1998 are opening in Chicago this week — which makes them two of the best movies of 1999 — but the odds of either making much of a splash are just about nil. For one thing, they don’t appear to have opened previously anywhere else in the U.S., ruling out any advance buzz. For another, the budget for publicity in both cases appears to be about 15 cents; by contrast, the advertising budget for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me was between $35 million and $40 million, not counting the Time Warner tie-ins (the entire production budget was $33 million). As a consequence, information about both films is hard to come by — I can’t even determine whether the screenwriter of Mr.Read more »

Windmills of His Mind

The following review of Lost in La Mancha appeared in the February 21, 2003 issue of the Chicago Reader. Seeing the newer Terry Gilliam film, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (see above), last Saturday (November 7), on my last evening in St.. Andrews, Scotland, I was sufficiently blown away by the visual invention and surrealist imagination on display here to rethink some of my estimation of his films. (The film wouldn’t open in the U.S. until Christmas, but I was told that it was already something of a monster hit in Europe.) Even though I couldn’t always follow what was going on in terms of plot (probably my fault more than the film’s), the way Gilliam solved the seemingly insoluble problems posed by the death of Heath Ledger in the middle of shooting — arriving at a form of multiple casting (see below) that I’ve formerly associated mainly with experimental filmmakers such as Yvonne Rainer — is only one example of his nonstop ingenuity. I was also impressed by both his digital mastery and his arsenal of references — including The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T., which I believe he quotes from in one image of the hero climbing a ladder that rises into seeming infinity.Read more »