From the Chicago Reader (April 28, 1995). I’ve just reseen The Underneath, for the first time in 16 years, and it still looks good — indeed, possibly even better than any other Soderbergh film I’ve seen since then (although reportedly he dislikes it himself). More recently, it seems that cynicism of various kinds tends to engulf most of his films — perhaps making his filmmaking more appealing to some of my colleagues for this reason, but also making it less appealing to me. — J.R.
Kiss of Death Rating ** Worth seeing
Directed by Barbet Schroeder
Written by Richard Price and Eleazar Lipsky
With David Caruso, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicolas Cage, Helen Hunt, Stanley Tucci, Michael Rapaport, and Ving Rhames.
The Underneath Rating *** A must see
Directed by Steven Soderbergh Written by Sam Lowry (Soderbergh) and Daniel Fuchs
With Peter Gallagher, Alison Elliott, William Fichtner, Adam Trese, Joe Don Baker, Paul Dooley, and Elisabeth Shue.
Sound-bite explanations are the media’s preferred means for tackling (i.e., buying and selling) the past as well as the present. Growing up on media images of the end of World War II that evoke relief and euphoria as well as exhaustion, I was hardly prepared for the discovery, in the spring issue of the academic journal October, that according to the respected German filmmaker Helke Sander, approximately 1.9 million women were raped in the territories of the former Third Reich between March and November 1945.… Read more »
From the Chicago Reader (October 21, 1994). This is also reprinted in my collection Movies as Politics. — J.R.
*** ED WOOD
Directed by Tim Burton
Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
With Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, Jeffrey Jones, Bill Murray, Lisa Marie, George “The Animal” Steele, and Vincent D’Onofrio.
*** PULP FICTION
Directed and written by Quentin Tarantino
With John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Maria de Medeiros, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Harvey Keitel, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken, and Tarantino.
[The media] ask those who know nothing to represent the ignorance of the public and, in so doing, to legitimize it.
– Serge Daney, Sight and Sound
If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story. — Orson Welles
In Vamps & Tramps, Camille Paglia’s latest collection of sound bites and press clips, one finds an extended account of her long-term obsession with Susan Sontag, including the following nugget: “She is literally being passed by a younger rival, and she’s not handling it, I’m afraid, very gracefully. . . . I am the Sontag of the 90s, there’s no doubt of it.” Her statements recall Wynton Marsalis’s compulsive self-positioning as Miles Davis’s rival/replacement — especially in the 80s, when Davis was still alive — as well as repeated assertions reviewers have made over the past several weeks that Quentin Tarantino is Jean-Luc Godard’s successor.… Read more »