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MORIARTY Goes Arthouse! FAST RUNNER, WARM WATER, SEX & LUCIA And More!

Published at: Oct. 10, 2008, 4:54 p.m. CST by Moriarty

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

You know what comment really bugs me?

”There’s nothing to see.”

I hear it from people all the time, the complaint that everything playing at every theater in their area is crap. And if you live in a place where there are only a few available screens, and they’re legitimately only playing MEN IN BLACK 2 and HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION, then, yes, I am sorry for you. My heart goes out to you. I grew up feeling like that. I used to dream about living in a place that they were referring to on a TV commercial when they said, “Opens Friday In Select Cities.”

Living in LA, one of the two premiere “select cities” as far as theatrical distribution is concerned, I am always stymied by an overabundance of choice, not a lack of it. There are times I might complain that nothing’s playing close, but I live within ten minutes of four of the city’s big showcase theaters as well as one of the best programmed art houses. Chances are that if I can’t find something to see, it’s because I’m a lazy bitch.

One of the best remedies I know to summer movie blues (it sets in just after the third film in a row where you walk out thinking, “That’s exactly what the trailer looked like. I learned nothing from that film that I didn’t know from the trailer. In fact, the trailer was more entertaining.”) is seeing something totally off-mainstream. You know... when you can’t hold down another blockbuster, when even the thought makes you a little queasy.

But you love going to the movies, right? And you want to see something that is going to surprise you, right? Or that at least has a remote chance of surprising you. I think shock is one of the few things you can count on when trying to get through to media-bloated cynical audiences right now, and shock comes in many forms. You can shock someone with the truth. Or with the extreme.

And, of course, the preferred version of shock should have something to do with sex, the most universal topic there is. Sure, murder and betrayal and greed and family are all topics as old as the Bible, or older still, but sex is the one topic that every culture has to deal with in some way. One of the joys of foreign cinema for me is to see how alike our culture is to others, and to see just how different we are.

One of these films I saw at a festival, and I have no idea if you’re going to get a chance to see it or not. The rest are either playing in arthouses now or opening in a platform pattern as we speak. And talk about a wide range of cultures represented... there’s an Israeli film, an Iranian film, a Japanese film, a Spanish film, and the only Inuit movie I’ve ever even heard of.

Far as I’m concerned... there’s plenty to see out there right now.

LATE MARRIAGE

One of the things that is most delicious about a strong foreign-language picture is that our expectations of story form, shaped by the thudding repetition of Hollywood films, are so frequently confounded by what we see.

Take, for example, this funny, knowing debut film by Dover Koshashvili, a film that would almost work as a direct antidote to what we typically call the “romantic comedy.” In almost any example of that genre, there is no element of surprise, since we know that the films exist solely to manufacture some circumstance by which our two leads (played by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in about 85% of all romantic comedies made since 1988) will finally end up in each other’s arms.

The set-up for this film seems to promise the same sort of journey. Zaza (Lion Ashkanazi) is 31 years old, and his life appears to be one giant pause. He’s still a student, still unmarried, and his parents Lili (Lili Koshashvili, the director’s real-life mother) and Yasha (Moni Moshonov) are beginning to worry. They introduce him to suitable candidates, but no one seems to be good enough. As Zaza tells one of the girls, “I want a woman so perfect for me that I would go insane.”

What Zaza isn’t telling anyone is that he may have found her. She just isn’t a woman that his parents would ever approve of. She’s Moroccan. She’s divorced. She has a child. And worst of all, she’s 34. Judith (Ronit Elkabetz) is unsuitable in every way except the most important one: she makes Zaza happy. That’s no easy feat. One of the great things about Ashkanazi’s work here as an actor is the deadpan way in which he takes in the world around him. Koshashvili’s camera is locked down, static, almost unblinking, as if matching Zaza, deadpan for deadpan. By refusing to indulge himself in any camera style that draws attention to itself, the director forces us to simply take in what’s happening and make our own judgements. He doesn’t try to turn Zaza’s parents into monsters or turn Judith into a saint. He never once tips his hand as to how we should feel about what we’re seeing.

Zaza is one of the great passive characters of all time. He does nothing in this movie, and by doing so, he forces everyone else to react. He’s 31, but he still feels like a child, and his relationship with Judith and her daughter Madona (Sapir Kugman) gives him a chance to play at being a man without having to face any real responsibility. He brings over some groceries when he can. He shows up when he wants something. Judith knows the score, and in some ways, it’s too painful for her. Still, she also knows how many romantic options there are for a 34 year old divorced Morroccan mother in Israel, and despite Zaza’s weakness, she loves him.

The centerpiece of the film is a 12 minute scene between Judith and Zaza that depicts lovemaking in a frank, almost offhand way. The two of them spend as much time talking as fucking, and there’s a genuine sense of affection between them that is quite touching. This isn’t your typical scene with close-ups of someone’s hand grabbing a sheet in ecstasy or candlelit bodies rolling together. Again... Koshashvili stays back, slightly removed from the action, and simply observes. As a result, this isn’t what I would call an “erotic” scene. Instead, there is an earthy, natural quality to it. There are very few sex scenes in cinema that feel emotionally real to me as I watch them. This would be on that very short list now, no question about it.

When Zaza’s family finds out the truth about Judith, all hell breaks loose. They barge into her apartment and confront the two of them. And here’s where you realize that although the film has a droll sense of humor and manages to make pointed, wry observations about how Zaza bristles at tradition and how he chafes under Judith’s disapproving gaze, this is not a comedy. The stakes are too high emotionally for this to be funny. Then again, the accuracy and acerbic wit of the observations that Koshashvili makes are so striking that it’s hard not to laugh.

In the end, LATE MARRIAGE seems to be a film about how difficult it is to escape the lives that we are born into. So often, people struggle against what their parents want for them or try to leave tradition behind, and more often than not, they fail at those attempts. Even in delivering this message, though, LATE MARRIAGE plays rough. There’s no warm, accepting hug at the end of this movie. Instead, there’s one of the most bitter laughs I’ve ever seen, a sort of anguished cry laced with a sense that there was never any sense in fighting the inevitable. If you’re in the mood for a challenge, this film is definitely willing to offer one.

SEX & LUCIA

I like the current wave of Spanish mindfuck melodramas the way I like the current wave of Asian horror films; there’s a number of filmmakers who are good at making them, and even the imperfect films have an energy worth paying attention to.

If you’re a fan of recent films like MULHOLLAND DRIVE or MEMENTO or Amenabar’s ABRE LOS OJOS, then you should have a blast trying to decipher Julio Medem’s lush and lunatic SEX & LUCIA, a film that is punchdrunk on the potential of love and the sensations of sex. It’s a film of great imagination and an undeniably effective erotic eye. His last film, LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, was a remarkable handling of a difficult subject, and managed to paint a human face on a taboo. With SEX & LUCIA, he seems to be trying to make a grand statement about how artists create their work from their lives, a statement that is fleshed out with canny and stirring observations about the way sexual appetite can consume us.

The film begins with a man and a woman making love, entwined underwater, swimming and screwing under the brilliant tapestry of a swollen night sky. They don’t want to complicate the evening, so they agree to not tell each other their names. They drop little hints, though, little details. He’s a writer. She’s a chef. The moon is unnaturally bright, and the night seems drenched in magic. It’s his birthday, she’s his present, and it doesn’t have to mean anything more than that. Except, of course, it means much more than that, and how much more is something that neither one of them will know for decades. Everything else that happens in the film spins out as a result of that chance encounter on a small island, an unnamed island that could be any remote and perfect place. We follow the writer Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa) back to his life, back to Madrid. This is where he meets a girl who has been following him, watching him, and who has decided that he needs to marry her. This is where he meets Lucia.

I saw Paz Vega in Gil Mateo’s NOBODY KNOWS ANYBODY, written and produced by Amenabar, another thriller that depends on narrative trickery, but she didn’t make anything like the impression she makes in the starring role here. She’s Lucia, and she’s luminous, a force of erotic nature. When she decides to convince Lorenzo that he needs her in his life, she is mercilessly desireable. She’s inventive. She plays games with cameras and public nudity and she seems to never be tired. She’s any and every erotic dream that Lorenzo could want, fulfilled and willing. And she does it uncomplainingly because of how much she loved his book, his first novel. It marked her, and she’s determined to mark him now, to change his life, to be part of the second novel that she’s sure he has in him.

There’s more to the setup, though, a sort of mystery, a portent of tragedy to come, and the film ends up being almost circular in narrative structure. At some point during the film’s dour third act, it seems to almost vanish up its own ass. No matter. This isn’t a film where the parts all have to add up for it to be effective. Instead, it’s a showcase for Medem’s ability in structuring a sequence, and for making a character squirm. Lorenzo makes a shocking discovery about that night of passion on that island all those years ago that leads him to a playground in Madrid where he watches Luna (Sylvia Llanos) play, a little girl who just might be his daughter.

It’s also where he meets Belen (Elena Anaya), Luna’s babysitter, a girl so ferociously sexual that she makes Lucia look like a man by comparison. Casting a role like this is next to impossible, since that sort of presence is impossible to fake, but Medem found the right girl with Anaya. She’s a nuclear bomb when she arrives in the film, and her scenes are among the most directly arousing in the film. She’s seducing Lorenzo, even though he knows better, even though there’s a million reasons for him to fend off Belen’s advances, and Medem manages to seduce us as viewers. That way, when the horrible, shattering WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP style moment finally arrives and Lorenzo’s world is turned inside out once again, we’re not prepared for it. Medem turns us on only to tear our hearts out, and it’s such a strong, brutal shift in gears that I have to admire him as a director. I have to admire his sense of control. I was just talking with Harry tonight about how hard it is to pull certain types of moments together in films, and how sometimes the best ideas just don’t quite work on film. Medem gets the big moment right here, and as a result, it’s almost too much to bear. Lorenzo is never the same after it happens.

Except, it’s possible that it didn’t happen at all. And that it’s just his novel, and that it’s killing him because of how much he loves these characters he’s created.

Except the real reason the book is tearing him up is because he can’t live with what he did, and the guilt is destroying him.

And on and on. The film twists and contorts, and Lucia runs from trouble, runs to the island where she knows Lorenzo was happy once. Once she’s there, the mystery of how her life derailed begins to unravel, and Lucia learns things she never could have suspected. Najwa Nimri and Daniel Freire both give strong supporting turns in the late stretches of the picture. Above all else, this film is simply remarkable to look at. As long as you’re not offended by frank and graphic sexual material (including some close-ups of excited male members that would never be included by an American director), this is a film you should check out on the bigscreen for the sheer visual splendor of it. It’s not perfect, and it may not add up, but it’s certainly watchable for every one of its 129 minutes. Seek it out.

CHECK OUT THIS CLIP!!

OR MAYBE THIS ONE!!

I also know that I can’t wait for Almodovar’s new film TALK TO HER later this year, since both Paz Vega and Elena Anaya are in it. After you see this film, you’ll understand the anticipation.

WARM WATER UNDER A RED BRIDGE

Of all the films I’m covering in today’s column, this one is the flat-out strangest, and the one that is the hardest to get a grip on in hindsight.

On the surface, this film by Shohei Imamura (THE EEL, THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA) is a film much like Bill Forsythe’s LOCAL HERO, a story of a man visiting a small, eccentric town and being affected by the people he encounters there. The screenplay (by Imamura with Daisuke Tengan and Motofumi Tomikawa) is adapted from two separate stories by Yo Henmi, known for his fables about peace, and one of the themes that runs through this film is the idea of a community at peace because everyone is playing their part in the cycle. When one person is happy and content, it spreads. One person’s good health and joy leads to the community’s health and joy. There’s a lot more to the film’s rather overwhelming mix of satire and silliness and magical realism and harsh social criticism, and the jumble of the thing is part of what sits strange with me. From scene to scene, there’s a fair amount to like about the movie, but when it’s all added up, I’m not sure there’s anything there.

Koji Yakusho seems to be omnipresent in modern Japanese cinema. I recognized him from PULSE and CURE and SHALL WE DANCE? and Imamura’s own THE EEL. Here, he’s Yosuke Sosano, a man who has fallen on hard, hard times. He can’t find work. His wife detests him for his inability to provide. He’s in Tokyo while she waits in the suburbs, demanding that he send home money on a regular basis. He’s homeless, saving every penny for her, and he meets another homeless man who tells a fabulous story about a golden Buddha that he stole and hid near a river, in a house near a red bridge. Yosuke can’t resist when the older man dies; he heads off to find that red bridge and that golden Buddha, the evident solution to all his problems.

Instead, he finds something he’s not prepared for. He finds a woman. He follows Saeko Aizawa (Misa Shimizu) to a grocery store, trying to get some sense of her. He’s puzzled when he sees her standing in a mysterious puddle of liquid, and doubly so when she steals a wheel of cheese. He follows her home, looking for answers, and instead ends up having sex with her. When she climaxes, she releases a literal flood of water, a gushing orgasm that leaks down through her house, leaking out into the nearby river, attracting fish which are then caught by local fishermen.

Seriously. I’m not kidding.

Yosuke begins to forget his original purpose for coming to town. He pokes around Saeko’s house in a few cursory searches, but gives up quickly. He’s more interested in helping Saeko every day. The waters well up in her, you see, and she simply has to relieve them. The more Yosuke makes love to her, the more content she becomes. The local fisherman begin to have a great run of luck. The whole town seems to come to life by degrees.

There’s darkness around the edges of this fable, though, and it begins to creep in more pervasively as the second half progresses. The violence that ends the film seems to come from a different movie than most of what’s come before. Imamura’s sense of control seems to be shaky as the ideas he’s set up fail to pay off successfully. His magical realism ends up dissolving, collapsing around Yosuke and Saeko until they are stranded in the film’s closing moments, not sure what’s next.

This is one of those movies that might not play at all for nine out of ten viewers. I may well be one of those nine. It’s genuinely hard to tell. But for that tenth viewer, the one who tunes in completely to whatever odd ethereal frequency is playing in Imamura’s ear, WARM WATER UNDER A RED BRIDGE just might accomplish the magical transformation it so achingly strives for.

ATANARJUAT – THE FAST RUNNER

Absolutely unique, this is a film like nothing else I’ve ever seen. Despite the fact that the story it tells, based on ancient Inuit mythology, is a basic Campbell-modeled story of good versus evil, it’s the world that we are ushered into by director Zacharias Kunuk that marks ATANARJUAT as such an important and remarkable voice in world cinema.

The film was shot on widescreen digital video, and it’s for more than just the typical reasons. The punishing conditions of the remote location in the Canadian Arctic typically render it difficult to handle celluloid. Thanks to the use of digital video, they were able to work with confidence, capturing an entire way of life we’ve never seen presented like this on film before. This should earn cinematographer Norman Cohn an Academy Award nomination if there’s any justice whatsoever in this business. It’s staggering work. I’ve seen the film once in a theater and twice on video now, and I can honestly say... this is one of the movies that you owe it to yourself to find on the biggest screen possible. This is luminous, a reminder that this entire art form is little more than shadows thrown on a cave wall while someone tells us a story.

The film begins with an evil spirit sweeping into a small Inuit community. It’s sometime in the past, some indeterminate distant day, and the evil divides the community, infecting one family in particular, that of Sauri (Eugene Ipkarnak), the chief of the tribe. As his children Oki (Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq) and Puja (Lucy Tulugarjuk) grow older, they are spoiled, rotten, creatures of immediate desire. Both are obssessed in their own way with a pair of brothers, Amaqjuaq (Pakkak Innushuk) and Atanarjuat (Natar Ungalaaq). Oki hates and resents them, and Puja wants to make Atanarjuat her man.

Keep in mind, though, that this is not conventional Western storytelling. This film is an odd mix of myth and documentary. The details of the daily life of the Inuit people are shown in close-up, and time passes at a glacial pace. This is three full hours, and one might argue that it’s “too long,” but I can’t honestly say what you would cut. The power of this film comes from the accumulation of the imagery, from the sense of a shared life with these people. The way they prepare food, the way the community works as a whole. There’s a fascinating sequence in which Oki and Atanarjuat settle a dispute by trading punches, one at a time, in a special igloo built for the occasion.

The acting is nearly impossible to judge by conventional standards. Who am I to doubt the versimilitude of what I’m looking at? This film was scripted by the late Paul Apak Angilirq, and it’s part of an ongoing project by the Inuit people to help preserve their heritage using modern media. Typically, that sort of origin might lead to something dry or more suited for a museum, but ATANARJUAT – THE FAST RUNNER is exhilarating and eveloping. It’s like watching theater from another planet. In some ways, it’s totally foreign, but the things that are familiar is what binds us to the drama, drawing us in. These people are not treated as mere dioramas, historical place-markers. They are full of passion, filled with contradictory impulses that lead them to some truly terrible places over the course of the film.

There’s a set piece about mid-way through, when Oki and his henchmen decide to kill the two brothers, that leads to a chase across the ice. Atanarjuat is nude, woken from a sound sleep, yet despite his condition he manages to outrun Oki and the others. It’s punishing just to watch him running across ice or through arctic waters with nothing to protect him, and it’s made more shocking because we know... this wasn’t done on a soundstage. This isn’t fake. This is a man exposed to the elements, doing whatever he has to do to stay alive. In the closing credits, we get a glimpse of what it took to capture these images, and it’s just amazing.

This is the film I dare you to see, out of any of the ones in this article. I dare you to open yourself to this one-of-a-kind experience. There’s always room for big dumb fare like xXx, as long as you’re willing to test your palette with a challenge like this as well.

TWO WOMEN

I saw this film at Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival a few months ago, and despite my best intentions, I never made it to the end of my coverage of that amazing event. As a result, I never wrote a review of what is absolutely, without question, my favorite film that I’ve seen so far this year. I don’t care if it was originally released in Iran in 1999. As far as I’m concerned, TWO WOMEN is the film to beat in 2002.

Right now, filmmaker Tahmineh Milani is facing the death sentence in Iran for making this movie. This despite the fact that she was given government permission not only to make the film, but to release it. One party left power after that authorized release, though, and another party took power, and suddenly Milani’s protected expression of how it feels to be a woman in Iran became a crime against the state. And what is it about her film that has earned her this notoriety? What great and terrible secret did she let slip that has put her in such a precarious position?

Well, she seems to have suggested that women are human beings, and that treating them like property is systematically destroying them. She seems to be saying that anyone who is treated as less than human begins to believe it, and that this accepted abuse is wrong. She seems to be saying that anyone who would crush the soul of someone else simply because the law allows them to is wrong.

Crazy, huh?

The film begins with Roya (Marila Zare’i) and her husband working together as architects. Roya gets a phone call from Fereshteh (Niki Karimi), a friend she hasn’t spoken to for many years, and it’s Fereshteh’s plea for help that spurs Roya to flashback to events from when she was an architectural student. She was struggling with her studies when she met Fereshteh, a bright and beautiful girl who is determined to make her place in the world on the strength of her own abilities. She begins to inspire Roya to step out into the world, which only makes what happens even more crushing.

Fereshteh attracts the unwanted attention of Hassan (Mohammad Reza Forutan), who decides that he is going to make Fereshteh his. He begins to aggressively stalk her, and thanks to the way women and men are given different status in Iranian courts, this is a legitimate form of courtship. When he throws acid on one of her cousins, it’s somehow her fault. The Cultural Revolution hits full-force (the film is set in the late ‘70s), and Fereshteh has to return home since the universities are closed. Hassan follows her, though, and when he chases her and forces a car accident in which two children are killed, she is punished just as harshly as Hassan is.

A local man, Ahmad (Atila Pesiani), volunteers to help her family by marrying her and paying her debts. For Fereshteh, it’s as if she’s been sentenced to prison. Ahmad loathes her independence. The exact thing that draws us to her as a character causes him to abuse her, belittle her. Every sentence ends with “stupid.” He orders her not to read, not to do anything aside from labor involving the house or their children. Nothing she wants matters, since she has no rights under the law. She has no choice but to accept what Ahmad says, and when she struggles or chafes under his control, she is punished terribly for it.

Yes, this film is melodramatic at times. Yes, it’s aesthetically unsophisticated. But what makes it such a brutal time bomb of a film is the way we are forced to empathize with Fareshteh, the way we can’t help but project ourselves into her place. This is a deeply human inside glimpse at the world that Iranian women face every day. This is one of the great films that I’ve ever seen about how resiliant the human spirit can be, and just where the breaking point may be, even for the strongest of us. The last twenty minutes made me shake with a combination of rage and helplessness. And this is just a glimpse, a suggestion of the reality of this life.

When I met the filmmaker a full day after seeing her film, I found myself still speechless, still struggling to give voice to the powerful emotions that it dredged up in me. All I could say to her was, “I think your film is an emotional sledgehammer, and it affected me deeply. Thank you.” All I can say to you is find this on video. Search it out. Make the effort. There are films that are great for the eyes, and films that tease the mind. This is a film that feeds the soul.

Okay, I’ve got to run. I’ve got an assload of work to do in the next few days. I’ve got a review coming for Revolution’s big summer gamble, xXx, as well as my takes on THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE, ONE HOUR PHOTO, Neil LaBute’s POSSESSION, and Paul Schrader’s AUTO FOCUS. In addition, I’ve got to find time to rant and rave about the brilliant CREATURE TECH graphic novel by Doug TenNapel, and I’ve got a pair of interviews to transcribe with Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva regarding this week’s release of DOGTOWN & Z-BOYS on DVD. That doesn’t even account for the big news of my very own that may be coming in the next few. Good lord... I guess I didn’t need any sleep anyway...

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback

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  • Aug. 6, 2002, 8:25 p.m. CST

    My Dad saw "Sex and Lucia"...

    by beamish13

    at the Nuart in L.A. He enjoyed it. If you go there, go talk to the Movie Geek[Marc Edward Heuck]from "Beat the Geeks", as he works there. Lovely place.......

  • Aug. 6, 2002, 8:37 p.m. CST

    Sex and Lucia looks to be very good!

    by jackrabbit

  • Aug. 6, 2002, 10:57 p.m. CST

    The Obligations of Atanarjuat

    by Jaq Kalbind

    Okay... I went to see Atanarjuat more than 2 weeks ago, with the hope of seeing what Ebert and now Moriarty were calling a stunning work. I sat through the film, sometimes laughing, sometimes near tears, and never at the points when I was supposed to be either laughing or crying. I left the theatre thinking, "Wow, I SHOULD like that film. But I just don't." Albeit, the scene between Oki and Atanarjuat in the Igloo fighting was an increadibly mastered and painful scene. As was his running in the glaciers after his brother's death. But let's be honest. There's a good 2 and a half hours more of footage, much of which is repititious, random, and often absurdly sudden. The script moves at such an increadibly slow pace, that when it picks up, you are left in the dust, completely unaware of what has happened, and by the 2nd hour, not really caring all that much. As a documentary, it is increadible. As a dramatic film, it is simply malcrafted. The story IS blatent and predictable, the acting IS stiff (that's not just your imagination, Moriarty), and the editing IS painfully bland. I love film. Hell, I do it as a living. I wanted this to be an increadible film. I almost feel it's my obligation to love Atanarjuat. But I just don't. I simply don't.

  • Aug. 6, 2002, 11:33 p.m. CST

    "Spanish Mindfuck Melodramas" lacks a certain...

    by Christopher3

    What the French call I don't know what. This burgeoning genre needs a cool sounding name, like "Nouvelle Vague."

  • Aug. 6, 2002, 11:36 p.m. CST

    ISLAM's oppression of women is why it will end up on the tra

    by TheMatarife

    Islam's treatment of women makes me sick. Bastards. I think Marx had some of his theories right, but instead of capitalism ending up on the trash heap of history, it will be other oppressors of people. Capitalism enables you to be powerful. Islam makes you barefoot and pregnant.

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 12:49 a.m. CST

    Put your geek movie knowledge to the test with this way off the

    by BloodDonorMan

    I too saw a few scenes from a movie about 10 years ago that I wanted to know the title to. Unfortunately, I think it's very obscure and have no idea who was involved with making it. All I remember is that it looked like it was made in the 40's or 50's (or possibly earlier) and was filmed in some strange European country. The movie was set in some kind of fantasy/dark ages time world. The beginning of the film has some kind of castle or fort being invaded by these marauding hordes. I vividly remember a shot of a guy in a crude watchtower from behind looking down and then turning quickly around to reveal he had just been shot in the chest with an arrow. Then later on in the film some kind of Jabba the Hutt like creature made an appearance walking down the steps from the castle. This is all I remember from the film as a friend of mine was watching it at his house one day and we had to leave and I never got to see the whole film myself. I remember the video box saying something like "cast of thousands" or "largest cast ever assembled for a film" or something of the kind. I've been wondering what the film's title was for years now as it looked totally unique. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 2:11 a.m. CST

    It's definitely...

    by Christopher3

    Absolutely positively "The Devil's Backbone." Murky cistern full of green water; kid trussed up in ropes with a cracked eggshell skull; pale white skin; black-ringed eyes; leaking blood.

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 2:16 a.m. CST

    Moriarty's Review of Iranian Film

    by Buster Gonads

    The thing about Moriarty's review about that Iranian film was that he was wise enough to point out that the wicked treatment of women in that country was an Iranian thing, not an Islam thing. Unlike that wanker who went shooting his mouth off about Islam being oppresive to women. Sure many countries with Muslim majorities and muslim leaders are full of shit when it comes to treating women and political dissidents and academics and liberals and what have you.They are the oppressors. Not the religion. Indeed many of the oppressed are muslims themselves but they choose to view the religion in the spirit with which it was formed. This was the religion after all which came out with the "daring" concept that women can own property, can choose their life partners and are equal to men. Circa 600AD. What I'm trying to say is that you don't go insulting another person's faith without understanding it first and without seeing that the issues you are so mad about is the result of the abuse of the religion and not the religion itself.

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 2:25 a.m. CST

    SummerTime Movie Blues..Get it every year...My cure: LOVELY AND

    by MentallyMariah

    Wow, one of the best indies I have seen so far this year! I did not want it to end, the cast was amazing and so was the screenplay! I highly recommend it to you guys, I saw FULL FRONTAL Last night and can I just say I was the only one in the theatre and now I know why...It was the biggest turd I have seen in ages! Tadpole was good, cute and had some funny moments in it. But hands down the funniest GUT BURSTING pee in your pants movie this summer is MARGARET CHO's THE NOTORIOUS C.H.O go see it with a bunch of your friends and prepare to have stomach cramps from laughing so hard!

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 3:57 a.m. CST

    Buster Gonads

    by EliCash

    You are absolutely right.The religion is not to be blamed. It is the politicians who distort the religion to suit their needs. While we're on the subject of religion I think the world would be better if people decided not to join that club.

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 6:07 a.m. CST

    actually

    by talbuckin

    it is Mateo Gil, not Gil Mateo. Mateo is the name.

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Antanarjuat - Jaq Kalbind

    by WeedyMcSmokey

    I can't help but feel that a film like this deserves some other parameters by which to measure its value. The quality of editing, acting, pace et at simply don't equate to the usual or traditional idea of not just film, but storytelling. It is a product of its environment, taking the shape and form of a vibrant wasteland if you'll pardon the oxymoron. This is truly as close to a film from another planet as we will see. It's not a documentary, nor should it be - that I fear would make it banal and detached. This is so much more. I certainly wouldn't fault you for not liking it - but the fact that you seem to bemoan the fact that the film wasn't entertaining enough, I feel does it a disservice. It's history on film - an uncompromising view of the myth of a people (done by the same people) that is almost gone. Plus, clearly it fucking enthralled me.

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 12:16 p.m. CST

    thank you, "morey" & weedy...

    by timothycarey

    weedy, for providing the perfect response to jaq's wholly justified dislike of _antanarjuat_ -- it sure ain't "entertaining", excatly, but it is truly historic as it embraces an approach to narrative we have probably never seen before, and definitely not lately in the bruckheimer era of american filmmaking/going. that we haven't seen inuit culture accurately portrayed on-screen since the arrival of the sound era (cf. the legendary _nanook of the north_) is another, less important matter to me; the interest this fact might engender is simply cultural novelty, emphemeral in itself and not much to base aesthetic criteria upon (see, btw, armond white's predictable diss of _antanarjuat_ in the ny press on these grounds, as well as the equally predictable rant against digital video, which he snarkily claims is made, and i'm paraphrasing here, for a culture than has forty words for snow). yes, i fidgeted a touch at two and a half hours, but i wouldn't have missed this cinematic experience for the world. the film moves at the glacial pace of myth and, like you (& unlike jaq), i was, by the end, completely transported into a reverie that hot nyc night that didn't let up. would that this, rather than _my big fat greek stereotypes_, could have been the indie sleeper of summer '02. and, thank you, prof. moriarty, for this roundup of foreign films. within the memory of many of our lifetimes, foreign films -- films, basically, of all descriptions, not all of which synthesized in a vat in hollywood -- used to have some legs outside of major markets; roger corman distributing ingmar bergman's _cries & whispers_, to give one big, geek-friendly example. while it's true that the video "revolution" has made "screenings" of alternative fare like for-real indies and foreign films all the more rare -- and true that the future of alt-cinema is not stadia attached to malls but dvd players attached to televisions at home -- seeing a film like _antanarjuat_ in the same room, at the same time, as other humans remains an incomparable experience no remote-based "interactivity" will ever replace. go forth, geeks, and create long lines at _Songs from the Second Floor_...for the good of cinema and for the good of humanity!

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 12:18 p.m. CST

    nothing worse, except...

    by timothycarey

    ...for intentionally stupid posts like dantheman's. thanks for keeping america's reputation secure.

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 2:30 p.m. CST

    Iran

    by Atropos

    I've been to Iran, and women aren't anything close to as bad off as they used to be; sure, traditions that have after 1400 years been interwoven into the religion mean that they are not as free as in the west; but Iran is often vilified as the example of Islam gone wrong. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, which is one of the most oppressive states in the world towards women, if not THE most misogynist state, hardly gets any notice. Why? Oh they sell us oil, and they're our friends, ain't they. I saw women cops and women lawyers in Iran, the vice-president is a woman, etc. In Saudi Arabia a woman isn't allowed to drive a car. The one thing that Iran does that always gets brought up is force women to wear a headscarf; this isn't in the Koran. Mohammed did say that they should be worn in the mosque, but only because men aren't as pure as women, and might otherwise be distracted from their contemplation of God. And on the subject of Islam: Mohammed, like a previous talkbacker pointed out, was actually about 1300 years ahead on women's rights, and the rights of people generally. This is the guy who said that all men who didn't perform foreplay on their woman for 15 minutes before sex would go to hell for the sin of torture fer chrissakes! The reason some tenets of Islam are today seen as a bit backward, is because they're loathe to let go of something that worked so well for so long. Meanwhile, catholicism only screwed us up, and forced us to change. We still didn't catch up with Islam on Human Rights until the early 1900's. There are some misogynistic rules in Islam, true. But again, most of these were introduced by one of Mohammed's successors, Omar (leader of Mohammed's army, and a man who hated women with a passion), and as such are not really a part of Islam.

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 2:44 p.m. CST

    Not a foreign film, but what's the deal with Big Fat Greek W

    by otis von zipper

    My Big Fat Greek Wedding has so far grossed $40 million, that's more than Bad Company, 8 Legged Freaks, Crocodile Hunter, K-19, and several other major releases. While other films plummet down the box office list, Greek Wedding moves up, moving from #10 to #9 last week. So, how is this happening? It's gotten to the point where I'm almost interested in seeing it. Question is, is it actually worth seeing?

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 3:27 p.m. CST

    Otis Von Zipper / My Big Fat Greek Wedding

    by daph26

    MBFGW is one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time. It takes that "Romantic Comedy" notion Moriarty referred to above and actually does it to near perfection. And all Tom Hanks had to do was be a PRODUCER!! If this movie is playing in your area, run to see it. You don't have to be Greek to "get it." You just have to have a family. It's a "chick flick" that even the guys I know you have seen it thought it was funny.

  • stanley spector & atribiance! i just was in toronto(for the world youth day). i liked the assortment of movies(and hell yeah..i could see minority report 3 MONTHS before it`s german release). though when i stayed in montreal i was even impressed by their choice of international films like das experiment.

  • a film to take a look at: LOOK AT HER from almodovar!!!!

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 3:58 p.m. CST

    Oohh, so that's how fish get that smell...

    by old_toby

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 4:01 p.m. CST

    it couldn't be worse...

    by timothycarey

    ...than reading asinine attempts at invective. d'accord.

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 6:26 p.m. CST

    what the hell is far blue lillies?

    by Clara Bow

    Well, I'm glad someone understood Lucia Y El Sexo; I spent the whole movie wondering how this self-absorbed schmuck got so many hot women to sleep with him-- and trying in vain to figure out what the hell was going on. Everybody see The Last Kiss (L'Ultimo Baccio). That was a very good foreign movie- Italian- about how hard it is to stay in relationships. Very well done.

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 7:40 p.m. CST

    Animation is Quint/Devil's Backbone

    by Kraken

    It's a Devil's Backbone ref I guess... but that's not Harry floating in the water, it's Quint (notice the shark for legs).

  • Aug. 7, 2002, 8:06 p.m. CST

    Last Kiss (Ultimo Bacio) is itself a sequel

    by otis von zipper

    Last Kiss is starting to be shown in the U.S. I believe, and it is the follow up of a film from a few years ago called But Forever in My Mind (Come to Nessuno Mai). The director (Gabriele Muccino) planned the film to be a continuation of the charcaters as they become responsible adults, but since the setting is contemporary it's not specifically the same characters. Never the less, both films are quite good with perhaps a slight edge going to the first film; Forever in My Mind.

  • Aug. 9, 2002, 12:13 p.m. CST

    Threes hours of inuits and you still need a directors cut

    by Sarah

    While I enjoyed THE FAST RUNNER immensely, I cannot believe that one of the strong supporting characters falls off the face of the artic after one of the most tragic events in her life!! I spent the rest of the movie looking her resolvement...

  • Aug. 11, 2002, 6:04 a.m. CST

    Sex & Lucia

    by Trader Groucho

    I concur with Moriarty. Sex & Lucia is one of the best films of the year thus far, and well worth your $8-10 if the movie's playing in your area. And thankfully, no Penelope Cruz in sight! - Trader Groucho

  • Aug. 12, 2002, 6:32 a.m. CST

    Dantheman sucks

    by Parla

    I think that having to watch THE SUM OF ALL FEARS or PEARL HARBOR is much worse than watching any french film. But if they are so terrible I wonder why the keep remaking them, and making a mess out of it by the way...

  • Oct. 10, 2007, 9:27 a.m. CST

    What comment really bugs you?

    by Stalin vs Predator

    And why did I find this when searching for Blade Runner?