We don’t know about you, but we’re hoping to go home, crawl into bed and picturesquely expire. Or maybe just take a nap, we’ll decide when we get there. For y’all, however, as we wouldn’t recommend seeing either "An Unfinished Life," despite a fine turn by Bart the Bear II, or "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," "cultural document" or not. Nor is "Green Street Hooligans" looking worth shelling out at the theater (despite La Manohla‘s promising reading of the film as a sort of sublimated male love story…tempting, but we’ll wait for the DVD), and we know we should be all excited about "Keane," but we really just aren’t up for it. If you’re in New York, though, we do suggest taking a look at a film that we didn’t have a chance to review fully on the News site but would like to say nice things about now: "Kamikaze Girls," Tetsuya Nakashima‘s goofy tale of the friendship between a Gothic Lolita type and a tough biker girl in a small rural town in Japan.
The film’s told from the perspective of Momoko, who loves frilly dresses and dreams of a life devoted to leisure in Rococo-era France. She’s cheerfully isolated herself from everyone around her and from life in general until she has friendship forced onto her by Ichiko, a member of a girl’s biker gang. Light but never syrupy, the film’s got a surreal and loopy sense of the visual, particularly in the frantic introductory sequences (they’re almost reminiscent of "Toto le hÃ©ros" in tone), but also has surprising, and biting, poignance. Momoko’s detachment from the ugly, or at least not pretty, realities of life around her is several times depicted with her literally floating away into the sky, a curiously appropriate image for someone who’s managed to protect herself from a capricious upbringing and monstrously childish parents by studiously avoiding attachment to anyone but herself (and her beloved Baby, The Stars Shine Bright frocks). Anyway, it’s the kind of film we’d be in the mood to watch again this weekend, if we ever manage to peel ourselves off the couch.
We haven’t really even touched on Venice yet and they’re already starting to hand out prizes. Oy. Anyway, see Greencine Daily, they’ve got all you need when it comes to that festival. Here‘s the latest dispatch.
You may have noticed that we went through a brief obsession with "Hustle & Flow" and how much we hated it. Fortunately, the LA Weekly seems to feel the same, and, only a week after Scott Foundas‘ gleeful look at the film’s failure to live up to its own hype and "March of the Penguins"‘ unexpected success, they give us an excellent essay from Erin Aubry Kaplan on, essentially, the future of black film, and also on why "Hustle & Flow" sucks. We don’t want to make light â€” it’s a must-read. Some choice quotes:
At a time when white fantasies about black urban life have become routine, this movie, couched in full indie street cred courtesy of Sundance (where it won the Audience Award for dramatic feature), takes the genre to a level of exploitation and insult unique to the millennium. This is a nigger-fest minus some of the saturated color and amped soundtrack that a studio-produced movie would have â€” in short, minus the gloss that at least acknowledges the cartoonishness of the whole enterprise. But no such self-awareness exists in Hustle and its stripped-down "real" world, where all black men are thugs, criminals or rap artists, or â€” what’s the difference, really? â€” aspiring to be. Otherwise, they’re not authentic black men, which is one of the movieâ€™s most pernicious racial messages (and, believe me, there are many).
Then, adding insult to injury, [Craig] Brewer perverts black history by conflating it with the effort to make a hit record out of "Whoop That Trick" â€” framing the exploitative song’s journey in can-do sentiments like "I have a dream" and "By any means necessary." That "Whoop That Trick" serves as the movie’s sole vehicle of black ambition, the pinnacle of everybody’s dreams â€” black and white, male and female â€” is not only hackneyed, it’s toxic. Martin and Malcolm are surely turning in their graves.
Alright, that’s all for us. We’ll catch you Monday â€” talking points for the weekend: Is "Everything is Illuminated" really going to be a good movie? Or just an annoying one? (We say: somewhere in between.) And, in this glorious summer of the cleansing of Miramax’s bowels, what’s the worst film that’s been/will be tossed from the Weinstein shelves into a few scattered theaters? (We say: it’s coming, and it’s "Daltry Calhoun.")