March 29, 1996 |
Filmmakers have come to regard the American family farm as a kind of purgatory, a place for transients paying for sins. What the characters have done isn't always defined--often enough, they've been damned in advance. But what's politically (and perhaps agriculturally) significant is how the farm--the erstwhile symbol of tradition, family and the good earth--has become a fallen garden, where the corruption is palpable. In this, America has become Europe.
November 14, 1997 |
In creating "One Night Stand," writer-director Mike Figgis has, like the celebrated Dr. Frankenstein, come up with something of a monstrosity: a pompous, pretentious sex farce. If that sounds unnerving, you have no idea. With an overload of contrivance and a weakness for fake intimacy, "One Night" has unmistakable farce components.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 22, 1998 |
"The Apostle," actor and director Robert Duvall's intense exploration of a Pentecostal preacher who faces a life-changing crisis, was named best feature film Saturday at the 13th annual Independent Spirit Awards. Duvall also walked off with top honors for directing and best male lead for the same movie. Appropriately, he accepted the awards under a tent. "Praise Jesus!" Duvall said, mimicking fiery fictional minister Euliss "Sonny" Dewey.
September 19, 2003 |
With "Cold Creek Manor," gifted and idiosyncratic director Mike Figgis has sophisticated fun with the old-dark-house thriller genre and brings to it a subtly satirical edge. The result is a lightweight popcorn movie, hardly the scariest of the year but with enough jolts to be satisfying. Writer Richard Jefferies' solid script emphasizes character and psychology over plot and provides Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone with engaging, multidimensional starring roles.
August 6, 1992 |
Jonathan Demme is one of the few American filmmakers who seems equally at home making dramatic features and documentaries. That's because his approach to both forms is essentially the same: He's so open to experience that his best movies are like embraces. "Cousin Bobby" (Nuart) is a species of home-movie but Demme's engaging even-handedness turns it into something more: It's a home movie in which we are willingly drawn into the family and made to share their concerns.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 29, 2004 |
Sofia Coppola's eccentrically low-key film "Lost in Translation" swept the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, winning best feature, screenplay and director, and Bill Murray was named best actor for his role in the film as a sleepless, past-his-prime action star who crosses paths with a younger but similarly alienated American in Tokyo.
October 26, 2007 |
The new documentary on our 39th president, "Jimmy Carter Man From Plains," is running newspaper advertisements listing the man's accomplishments. Which is a good thing, because you won't find out much about them in the film. As directed by Jonathan Demme, this narrowly cast documentary focuses so exclusively on a publicity tour the former president took in the closing months of 2006 that a more accurate title might be "Jimmy Carter How I Sold My Book."
September 10, 1993 |
"The Ballad of Little Jo" (selected theaters) is a severely de-romanticized view of the Old West and the women who labored--in more ways than one--on its frontiers. At two hours, "Little Jo" is a long slog of revisionism, and by the end it doesn't necessarily seem any closer to the truth than the standard Hollywood Westerns. It's just bleaker. Revisionist Westerns, like, most recently, Eastwood's "Unforgiven," usually explore the consequences of violence in a male-dominated society.
February 28, 1997 |
With "Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love," director Mira Nair has incorporated the teachings of the famous 4th century text on the art of love into a heady, tragic tale of the entangled lives of two women and two men in 16th century India. Nair, maker of the landmark "Salaam Bombay!" and the engaging "Mississippi Masala," has this time over-reached with a story as silly as it is sensual. Originally, "Kama Sutra," which faces formidable censorship problems on its home ground in India, was more explicit.
June 28, 2012 |
There are moments in Jonathan Demme's new documentary,"Neil Young Journeys," when the saying "too close for comfort" comes to mind. The camera drops to focus on the lower half of Young's face mid-song, staying close enough and long enough that it's possible to identify color patterns of browns and grays in the stubble on his chin, to notice what looks to be bridgework on his teeth, to see the spit fly. In those scenes, what he is singing recedes,...