Daily Archives: February 21, 2021

I’ll Undo Everything [I’LL DO ANYTHING]

From the February 18, 1994 Chicago Reader. I wrote this before I had a chance to see the film’s original rough cut, when it was still a musical, which I continue to regard as far and away James L. Brooks’ best movie, more than twice as good as what he finally released.. By contrast, the release version reminds me of Erich von Stroheim’s comment about the release version of his Foolish Wives: “They are showing only the skeleton if my dead child.” [2021 afterthought: This now strikes me as more than a little hyperbolic. Some of the musical version of the film is great, but a fair amount of it is weak and/or doesn’t work very well. For more on the subject, go here.] — J.R.

** I’LL DO ANYTHING

(Worth seeing)

Directed and written by James L. Brooks

With Nick Nolte, Whittni Wright, Julie Kavner, Albert Brooks, Joely Richardson, Tracey Ullman, Jeb Brown, and Angela Alvarado.

 

http://images2.cinema.de/imedia/0158/1840158,cco3qxjLvMXjAo3gDnzRhOFI61LbD0zPjeNoyonQG0jndj3yKTrVdSgpYo5G2M2vrV7dc7yTSdzCzhc9sgS3pg==.jpg

First riddle: How can a movie about Hollywood professionals also be a movie about learning to be a parent? Answer: When all the Hollywood professionals in the movie act like kids or parents.

 

However disjointed it felt the first time I saw it, James L.… Read more »

City Of Sadness

From the May 1, 2001 Chicago Reader. — J.R.

This beautiful family saga by the great Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien begins in 1945, when Japan ended its 51-year colonial rule in Taiwan, and concludes in 1949, when mainland China became communist and Chiang Kai-shek’s government retreated to Taipei. Perceiving these historical upheavals through the varied lives of a single family, Hou again proves himself a master of long takes and complex framing, with a great talent for passionate (though elliptical and distanced) storytelling. Given the diverse languages and dialects spoken here (including the language of a deaf-mute, rendered in intertitles), this 1989 drama is largely a meditation on communication itself, and appropriately enough it was the first Taiwanese film to use direct sound. It’s also one of the supreme masterworks of the contemporary cinema, the first feature of Hou’s magisterial trilogy (followed by The Puppet Master and Good Men, Good Women) about Taiwan during the 20th century. In Mandarin and Taiwanese with subtitles. 160 min. (JR)

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