Daily Archives: November 2, 1990

Life Is Cheap . . . but Toilet Paper Is Expensive

The wildest and liveliest effort to date of Chinese American filmmaker Wayne Wang (Chan Is Missing, Dim Sum, Slamdance) might have been called Two or Three Things I Know About Hong Kong. Like Godard’s films in the late 60s, this beautifully shot essayistic poem–putatively a thriller and full of scatological gags as well as macabre violence and humor–evokes a contemporary city in all its contradictions and paradoxes. (The film’s full title perfectly captures its jaundiced socioeconomic view and its stylistic irreverence.) The Hong Kong presented here is not only the city we know from films made there (with plenty of in-jokes and guest appearances, including Allen Fong as a cabdriver) but also the city that looks forward to joining the Chinese mainland in 1997. A satiric semidocumentary in which the city’s natives periodically address the camera, Wang’s shocker also includes one of the longest (and surely the most dizzying) chase sequences ever filmed. Originally saddled with an X rating, it has gone out uncut with a self-imposed “A” rating for adults; translated, this is a grown-up movie without the power of the Hollywood industry behind it, which suggests a freedom that Wang takes full advantage of (1989). (Music Box, Saturday, November 3, midnight, and Sunday through Thursday, November 3 through 8)… Read more »

Jacob’s Ladder

A bold, powerful psychological horror film about a recently returned Vietnam vet (Tim Robbins), apparently working as a postman in New York City, who’s plagued by nightmarish paranoid visions. Thanks to a remarkable script by Bruce Joel Rubin (who also wrote the script for Ghost and the original story for Brainstorm) and the directorial skills of Adrian Lyne–who makes even more effective use here of an infernal vision of New York than he did in Fatal Attraction–this is both a stream-of-consciousness puzzle thriller that offers the viewer not one but many “solutions” and an emotionally persuasive statement about the plight of many American vets who fought in Vietnam–a statement that is more expressionistic and metaphysical than “realistic,” but is no less compelling for that. One doesn’t want to say too much about a film that depends on surprises, ambiguities, and many shifting levels of reality and consciousness, but there are moments when this disturbing, unpredictable movie recalls The Manchurian Candidate, albeit without the comic irony. Robbins fully meets the unusual demands of his part, and Elizabeth Pena and Danny Aiello are equally impressive. (Esquire, Evanston, Norridge, Webster Place, Golf Glen, Lincoln Village, Ford City, Harlem-Cermak)… Read more »

Allegro non troppo

Bruno Bozzetto’s parody of Disney’s Fantasia is a collection of animated sketches accompanying classical music pieces (by Debussy, Dvorak, Ravel, Sibelius, Stravinsky, and Vivaldi), with live-action slapstick sequences featuring cowriter Maurizio Nichetti (The Icicle Thief). It’s not only a hilarious send-up of Disney’s excesses but a splendid cartoon feature in its own right–funny and imaginative and lively. The “restored” version of this 1976 Italian picture includes more Nichetti footage, and, for the first time in the U.S., a stereo sound track. (Music Box, Friday through Sunday, November 2 through 4)… Read more »