Daily Archives: June 24, 2005

Heights

With the help of director Chris Terrio, Amy Fox adapts her own play about crisscrossing sex lives in Manhattan, mainly within a theater-and-art milieu. This is brisk and fun to watch, thanks to the actors (including Glenn Close, Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Jesse Bradford, Isabella Rossellini, and George Segal in a swell bit as an avuncular rabbi). But once you catch the main drift of the plot, it becomes awfully ho-hum. R, 93 min. (JR)… Read more »

Bewitched

I had a pleasant time with this comedy about light witchery and even lighter bitchery. If you like Nicole Kidman, you might enjoy her here (she reminded me of Tuesday Weld), and even if you usually find Will Ferrell obnoxious, you might appreciate him hyping rather than trying to minimize his boorishness. Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine are a bit less at ease, but the special effects, for once, are witty rather than overblown, and director Nora Ephron, writing with her sister Delia, handles the material with grace and confidence. PG-13, 100 min. (JR)… Read more »

The Head

Head transplants, etc. Victor Trivas directed this dubbed 1959 German horror item, originally known as Die Nackte und der Satan. With Horst Frank, Karin Kernkew, andwhat’s he doing here?the great Swiss actor Michel Simon. 97 min. (JR)… Read more »

Samaritan Girl

Also known as Samaria, this 2004 feature by Korean cult director Kim Ki-duk comes across like a grotesque parody, but there are signs that Kim means us to take it seriously. Two teenage girls (Seo Min-jeong and Kwak Ji-min), who enjoy soaping each another in a photogenic bathhouse, take up prostitution to earn air tickets to Europe. Kwak, who pimps for her friend, is distressed when the girl seems to enjoy her work; after Seo dies in a tragic accident, Kwak begins having sex with all their former clients in order to capture her friend’s bliss, meanwhile paying back all the money. Needless to say, there’s also violence and redemption galore. In Korean with subtitles. R, 95 min. (JR)… Read more »

Or

Keren Yedaya’s powerful and memorable Israeli drama (2004) won a well-deserved prize for best first feature at the Cannes film festival. Written with Sari Ezouz, it focuses on an aging Tel Aviv hooker (Ronit Elkabetz) who’s halfheartedly trying to go straight and her resourceful teenage daughter (Dana Ivgi), who supports them both as a dishwasher while struggling with her own sexuality. They live in a world ravaged by war and occupation, one that Yedaya views with an angry lucidity. The story may suffer from a touch of determinism, but the camera’s stubborn immobility in most scenes forces us to arrive at our own conclusions, and the performances are electric. Also known as Mon tresor. In Hebrew with subtitles. 100 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. Gene Siskel Film Center.… Read more »

Me and You and Everyone We Know

Fresh, likable, and stylishly low-key, this wistful and sexy romantic comedy marks the feature-directing debut of conceptual artist Miranda July. There are a lot of strong performances by relative unknowns, but what really holds things together is a certain sustained pitch of feeling about loneliness. July plays a shy video artist, supporting herself as a cabdriver for the elderly, who becomes interested in a recently separated shoe clerk (John Hawkes) with two sons. The movie’s flirtatious roundelay also includes the clerk’s coworker, an art curator, and a couple of teenage girls. R, 90 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark’s Century Centre.… Read more »

Laid But Lonely [ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, OR, & SAMARITAN GIRL]

From the June 24, 2005 Chicago Reader. — J.R.

Me and You and Everyone We Know

*** (A must see)

Directed and Written by Miranda July

With John Hawkes, July, Miles Thompson, Brandon Ratcliff, Carlie Westerman, and Natasha Slayton

Or

*** (A must see)

Directed by Keren Yedaya

Written by Yedaya and Sari Ezouz

With Dana Ivgi, Ronit Elkabetz, Meshar Cohen, Katia Zinbris, and Shmuel Edelman

Samaritan Girl

no stars (Worthless)

Directed and written by Kim Ki-duk

With Kwak Ji-min, Seo Min-jeong, Lee Eol, Hyun-min Kwon, and Young Oh

“Sex is Confusing” could serve as an alternate title to these three movies, all high-profile film festival prizewinners. The first is an American woman’s debut feature, the second an Israeli woman’s first feature, and the third is Korean director Kim Ki-duk’s tenth.

Miranda July’s account of the inspiration for Me and You and Everyone We Know gives an indication of her wistful comedy’s strengths and limitations. “This movie was inspired by the longing I carried around as a child, longing for the future, for someone to find me, for magic to descend upon my life and transform everything,” she writes in the press packet. “It was also informed by how this longing progressed as I became an adult, slightly more fearful, more contorted, but no less fantastically hopeful.”

July’s main characters, all kids at heart, are a lonely video artist and driver for the elderly (July), a shoe salesman (John Hawkes) recently separated from his wife, and his two sons, ages 7 (Brandon Ratcliff) and 14 (Miles Thompson).… Read more »