Daily Archives: August 16, 1994

Milk Money

Three boys from the suburbs travel to the city in order to see a naked woman and wind up meeting a friendly hooker (Melanie Griffith) who drives them all home and then gets a crush on the father (Ed Harris) of one of the boys while she hides out from a gang boss (Malcolm McDowell). John Mattson’s script is every bit as silly as it sounds; it dawdles, stumbles, stalls, embarrasses both itself and the audience, and is routinely formulaic to boot. But Harris and Griffith (the latter doing her customary maternal Marilyn/Madonna shtick) make an appealing couple, and Richard Benjamin’s direction of them and the boys is halfway nice. With Michael Patrick Carter, Casey Siemaszko, and Brian Christopher. (JR)… Read more »

In Custody

According to Robert Frost, poetry is what gets lost in translationwhich describes the difficulty as well as the interest of the first feature directed by Ismail Merchant (1993), best known as James Ivory’s producer for 30-odd years (he has forayed into directing only twice before, making two films for British television). His principal motive here was to pay homage to Urdu, a poetic language on the verge of extinction in northern India. Based on a novel by Anita Desai and adapted by her and Shahrukh Husain, the film tells of a Hindu teacher coming into contact with one of his idols, a revered Urdu poet who’s fallen on hard times; a central part of the story involves the teacher’s protracted tragicomic efforts to record the poet reciting his own poetry. Merchant’s storytelling and direction are fluid and graceful, but there’s nothing he can do to convey in subtitles the essence of the language he’s celebrating. With Shashi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Om Puri, and Sushma Seth. (JR)… Read more »

Cachao

An OK documentary by actor Andy Garciawho also appears as host and interviewerabout Israel Cachao Lopez, the Cuban bassist and bandleader who invented the mambo and exerted a major influence over salsa and Afro-Cuban jazz. Lopez is interviewed, and Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante is on hand for his recollections and scholarly asides on the music; most of the remaining footage is devoted to a 1992 concert in Miami.… Read more »

Walk Cheerfully

A silent picture by Yasujiro Ozu (1930) about a petty thief who dreams of becoming a boxer and decides to go straight; he’s helped by the love of a woman and ultimately a job as a window washer. Like all Ozu silents, this is much brisker than his subsequent sound work, and the compositions are an eyeful. 96 min. (JR)… Read more »

That Night’s Wife

This uncharacteristic Sternbergian crime thriller by Yasujiro Ozu, one of his more interesting silent pictures (1930), is set almost entirely inside a single cluttered flat, where a policeman, hoping to arrest a commercial artist who’s robbed an office, is held at bay by his gun-wielding wife. The results are tense, claustrophobic, and visually striking throughout. In Japanese with subtitles. 65 min. (JR)… Read more »

Days Of Youth

The earliest of Yasujiro Ozu’s silent films to have survived, this is a chipper skiing comedy (1929) involving two college friends on holiday who are in love with the same woman. The ambience is akin to Harold Lloyd, and the slapstick is funny as well as touching. Ozu’s playful formalism is already fully evident, especially in what he does with ski poles. In Japanese with subtitles. 103 min. (JR)… Read more »