Thursday, September 08, 2005

Thursday morning: Singing in the Rain

It's pouring out there, and me without my umbrella. Fortunately, I've got some plastic bags so my computer doesn't get wet. In the meantime, here are some more reviews:

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang (USA)

Written and Directed
by Shane Black

The cool thing about this film is that it's fun to watch shiny, happy people shooting at each other for little reason. This is a murder mystery as well as a lessen in Story Structure®. We begin at one of those glitzy Hollywood parties that we never get invited to, when we hear the voice of one Harry Lockhart(Robert Downey Jr.) explaining the situation of how he got there and then…oh yeah, there's what appears to be a gratuitous flashback to a scene in 1980, it means something, but we aren't told till about a third of the picture is over.

Nonwithstanding, it seems that our Harry is a small time crook who somehow got a free trip to LaLaland while escaping the police, He's to play a private eye in Harlan Dexter's(Corbin Bernsen) latest action thriller and is to be given lessons from the aptly named Gay Perry(Val Kilmer), whom we first meet while saving our hero from being beaten up by some guy who was harassing the really beauteous Harmony Faith Lane(Michelle Monaghan), who we discover was Harry's best friend in childhood, thus explaining the opening flashback.

The next night, Harry and Perry are on a stakeout, when…an unidentified body is thrown in the river…This and other bodies are found and disposed of in the course of the picture, and as it turns out that one of these was at one point the sister of Ms. Lane, we've got all sorts of sexual hijinks, hence the title of the film.

This is one heck of a ride. Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. are, when they're sober and motivated, two of our best actors around and this is one of those times. I've never heard of Ms. Monaghan before, but she's sexy and georgious and can act just as good as the two leads. Black's script is fast and funny, which explains why this has all the great buzz.

This is one heck of a film and is gonna make a mint.

SARAH SILVERMAN: JESUS IS MAGIC

Directed by
Liam Lynch

So who the hell is Sarah Silverman? I didn't have a clue. She's famous enough to have a performance film made of her act, that's for sure. But is it good? That's a genuine puzzlement.

In these days of political correctness and hypersensitivity, Silverman's act is based on ethnic humor, not just commenting on the Jewish experience, but blasting away at everybody else as well.

For the most part she gets away with it, but a lot of her jokes fall flat. I guess you have to be there in the audience of a real performance to really get into it.

The musical numbers are for the most part lame. Instead of just going with the flow, Director Lynch has decided to edit in a bunch of music videos of the songs, and that might have worked if they were any good, which they're not.

On the positive side, Silverman is really hot looking, and is very easy on the eyes. If you're a fan, by all means go see her. If not don't.

The President's Last Bang (South Korea)

Written and Directed
by Im Sang-soo

If you're going to overthrow the government you've got to have a plan, especially if you're one of the top people in the government. It just won't do if you blow away the president and then hand it over to a nonplussed and ignorant VP. You have to get control after the actual act, because if you don't, you'll get sent to jail for life or worse, executed.

The year is 1979, and Park Chung-He(Song Jae-ho) has been President since he over- threw the nation's founder in 1961. At this point he's a corrupt old coot, who's minions are a bunch of violent thugs who don't really care how the nation feels about anything as long as they get their money and women.

This night the President has invited a few of his top aides to dinner and the Korean CIA safe-house including the KCIA director Kim (Baik Yoon-shik) and the bafoonish security chief Cha (Jeong Won-joong), who treats Kim and his top aide Ju-gwajang(Han Seokgyu) like dirt. Some time during the early part of the dinner, Kim gets fed up with everything and tells Ju, on the spur of the moment, that he's going to kill the president and Cha and bring democracy to South Korea.

Just there like that. Ju and Kim quickly get a few aides who just happened to be there, and within a few minutes everything is in place. President Park and his aides are listening to a popular singer(Kim Yoon-ah) and her ditzy best friend(Cho Eun-ji) who'd been dragooned into the gig when all of a sudden…BANG!!!!

What happens after the assassination is actually more interesting than the events leading up to it. This was an important bit of South Korean history and it was one of those stories that had to be told.

Needless to say, when this film came out in South Korea early this year, it had the same impact as Oliver Stone's “JFK,” and the version shown here is unexpurgated. That said, everything except the title is very, very good. The performances are wonderful Biak is mesmerizing as the conflicted patriot who despite years of being an oppressor decides to go for it. Han is even better showing a really nuanced performance, and the rest of the cast, most of whom I can't find the names of anywhere, show a range from slapstick to tragedy.

It would be nice to see this here in the States….

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