Personally, I find the notion of a politically correct Marquis de Sade ridiculous enough to be hilarious, but this didn’t prevent me from thoroughly enjoying Philip Kaufman’s silly romp, adapted by Doug Wright from his own play. This version of French history has it that the real sadist wasn’t Sade (Geoffrey Rush) but the hypocritical doctor (Michael Caine) who kept him locked up in a lunatic asylum, and that the real issues posed by Sade’s work basically boil down to freedom of expression. Check your brain at the concessions counter and you’re likely to have as much fun as I did, not only because the good guys and the villains are easy to spot but because Kaufman is an adroit, sexy storyteller and his cast is delightful. With Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, and Billie Whitelaw. 123 min. (JR)… Read more »
Daily Archives: December 11, 2000
Writer-director David Mamet emulates Kaufman and Hart. A Hollywood film unit prepares to shoot a feature in a small town in Vermont, occasioning the sort of comic mishaps found in The Man Who Came to Dinner, though without comparably juicy characters. What Mamet serves up are a generically crass director (William H. Macy), a principled screenwriter (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who becomes romantically involved with the woman who runs the local bookstore (Rebecca Pidgeon), a starstruck mayor (Charles Durning), a lead actor who lusts after teenage girls (Alec Baldwin), and so on. I laughed a lot at the anti-Hollywood humor and generally had a fine time, in spite of the holier-than-thou hypocrisy that makes this movie easily and even intentionally Mamet’s most Hollywoodish picture to date. With Patti LuPone, Sarah Jessica Parker, David Paymer, and Julia Stiles. 106 min. (JR)… Read more »
Written for a Film Comment poll; its web site doesn’t say which issue this appeared in. — J.R.
The Wind Will Carry Us — Kiarostami. City / country, rich / poor, modernity / antiquity, onscreen / offscreen, fast / slow, media / nature, private / public, documentary / fiction: an accurate and very funny report on the current state of the planet.
Hou Hsiao-hsien. The 21st century belongs to Asia, and Hou is its historian, its prophet, and its poet laureate.
Ten Best/Most Underrated (alphabetical): Actress, A Brighter Summer Day (230-minute version), Dead Man, From the East, Histoire(s) du Cinéma (final version, eight parts), Inquietude (Oliveira), The Puppetmaster, Sátántangó, When It Rains (Burnett, 12 minutes), The Wind Will Carry Us… Read more »