Friday, March 31, 2006

The Tupac Shakur national monument

Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) has tabled a bill to fund such a project in Stone Mountain GA.

Well, I guess it's no worse than that bridge to nowhere in Alaska.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Israeli election

The Likud party is now fifth in the number of seats in the Knesset. This is the end of Netanyahu. Also, it's the end of Hamas, as the Israelis are going to declare unilateral borders.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


TEXAS Italy 2005; 104 min.

Written and Directed
by Fausto Paravidino

First off, the film has absolutely nothing to do with any of the states of the union. “Texas,” if this film is to be believed, is a synonym for “the middle of nowhere, and the middle of this nowhere is the outer suburbs of Genoa, Italy, where little of importance happens and a merry band of post-teenagers likes to hang out and get drunk. Little do we know we're going to get blindsided.

For the first third of the film, Enrico (Fausto Paravidino) takes us on a tour of the people in his life. Apparently one of them is going away for military service and everybody is going to get stinking drunk, something they do all the time. We get to know these people as we prepare ourselves for the merry romp that's advertised at the beginning of the film.

But then one of them, a hansome slacker named Gianluca (Ricardo Scamarcio) starts two-timing his girlfriend. Cinzia (Iris Fusetti) with a married schoolteacher named Maria (Valeria Golino), who's husband Alessandro(Valerio Rinasco) isn't too happy with the situation. This could have been, and has in other films, been treated with a very light hearted touch, but Paravidino doesn't. What he does, is basically drop himself from the film somewhere near the beginning of the middle and change the tone of the film dramatically. In other words, the comedy vanishes and we have a romantic tragedy,

As a minor character says “This is getting too heavy, man.”

Indeed it does, but we've got some terrific performances here, and when we finally get into the real plot, as opposed to the party of a prologue, what might be termed “the second movie” becomes really dramatic.

Worth a look.

INTO GREAT SILENCE Germany, 2005; 162 min.

Written and Directed
by Philip Gröning

As a novice filmmaker, Philip Gröning asked the Carthusian monks of the Grand Chartreuse, a monastery in the French Alps, for permission to make a documentary about them. They said, “we'll think about it” and a dozen years later they actually said yes.

So, he actually goes there and starts filming. Now if you were expecting a gay romp through the Alps with happy-go-lucky monks dancing in the snow, you've got another thing coming.

What's coming is almost three hours of deathly dull tediousness, the Carthusians have taken a modified vow of silence, in which they can only use their vocal cords when singing hymns or praying in the chapel or during a once-weekly walk through the woods. Otherwise thy just do chores and read, entirely in silence.

If you really want to know what it's like to be a monk or nun in one of the strictest orders, see this, but beware, being bored out of your skull is not anyone's idea of entertainment.


Directed by
Ido Mizrahy

Life in a small town can be painful if you're weird. We're in St. Augustine, Florida, and it's September, 1969, The city is going to be major fireworks display to celebrate the place's anniversary and everybody's excited. Tommy Wheeler (Cooper Musgrove) is an odd duck for sure. His best friend Bear Hadley(Ryan Parker) loves nothing more than to torture our hero, something his other pal Tony Mazziati(Antony Del Rio) tolerates. Only the town drunk, Ump (Peter Gerety) is willing to stand up to this kiddie injustice.

But for the most part, we've got a gritty little comic soap opera, as Tommy's
his dreamy mother Connie Mae(Deborah Kara Unger) poses in sexy laingeree in the window of her sex shop and George Burgess (Daniel von Bargen), the local barber and religious fanatic, eats his lunch in front.

This was supposed to be adapted from an award-winning novel for children, but if it was, the adaptation isn't particularly good. The film is, in fact, quite a snorer, and we don't really care what's going on with the grownups and even with his eccentricities, Tommy just isn't that interesting a kid to really stay awake for.

The ending is a bit of a shocker, as it comes completely out of left field. The whole experience is something that's not worth the time or money.


Directed by
Laura Poitras

What's perplexing about this film is the point of view. Is Laura Poitras in favor of the event she is filming or against it? We're never entirely sure as we follow her around from place to place around Iraq as it prepares for it's first free election in decades, if ever.

Her main focus is a certain Dr. Riyadh, a notable in the neighborhood where he lives, he's a doctor in the old school, and everyone in his neighborhood loves him. Fine. So he decides to run for the Baghdad city council and lets Laura Poitras and her crew follow him around for while he runs for office.

This is not the only thing Piotras does. She goes to a number of Iraqi cities and follows the election process elsewhere, and it's all very interesting. The picture she paints is actually pretty positive, even though the outside security firm as to by weapons on the black market in order to protect the ballots and polling stations from


Written and Directed
by Cam Archer

Logan(Malcolm Stumpf) is one of those kids who doesn't have it all that good in Junior high. Come to think of it, almost nobody has it really good in Junior high. The asshole gene begins to kick in just before the hair starts growing in the groin and armpits and except for the top ranks in the clic system, pretty much everyone has a lousy time.

Of course, our hero lives with his single mother(Fairuza Balk) and is gay. Now, with most of the kids being homophobic and all, he gets pretty much razzed about it, but then he meets the über-cool rebel of the 10th grade, whom everyone calls Rodeo(Patrick White). Soon Logan has a major crush and is soon disguising his voice and having phone sex(using the voice of ). Soon Logan is dressing up in Mom's clothing and even former best pal Joey (Max Paradise) is wondering about his sexuality. This only makes things worse for his almost non-existent social life.

This thing is too poetic for it's own damn good. While we feel for Logan at the beginning, his actions soon become annoying and near the end the film becomes almost unwatchable, making you actually sympathize with the evil straight prom queen-type. It's pretty sure that Cam Archer is going to graduate to bigger things, like gay soft porn, or homicidal gay screenwriter psychodramas.

Meanwhile pass this by. It's all old hat.

Monday, March 20, 2006


PAVEE LACKEEN Ireland, 2005; 87 min.

Written and Directed
by Perry Ogden

The” Travelers” are an Irish subculture akin to the Gypsies. They aren't treated very well by the Irish government, and are therefore not a very happy bunch.

The story, as much as there is one, is about Winnie Maughan, a ten year old girl who gets suspended from a “special” school just for Travelers because she fights back with kids who call her names. Her mother Rose is a drunk, at least for the film, and Winnie's nine siblings are either in jail or our on the street causing trouble. So what we do is follow Winnie around as she goes around Dublin hanging out while things get worse for the family as they're forced to travel to a worse campsite where the government doesn't have to do anything for them anymore.

The film doesn't show what exactly the Traveler experience is and what difference it is from the regular Irish experience aside from the fact that they live in a trailer and speak with a particularly think accent. There's really no plot to this thing, and the characters have absolutely no development at all. There's a feeling of hopelessness about the film, which begs the question of purpose. What exactly is the filmmaker trying to do here? Is it a propaganda plea for help, and indictment of the Irish government for the treatment of these people? A pre-teen adventure film?

In all these things, it's a failure. We don't really care too much for these people and it seems neither does anyone else, including the filmmaker who wants to show their plight to the world.

FIRST ON THE MOON Russia, 2005; 75 min.

Directed by
Alexey Fedorchenko

I was really looking forward to this film. The idea was a hoot, a pseudo-documentary on a mysterious Soviet space flight in the 1930s was something which should not only be brilliant, but hilarious. Sadly, it's neither.

What they have is somewhat stilted and pedestrian. Following a brief history of rocketry, The narrator mentions a mysterious meteorite that fell in Chile in 1938, and then using a combination of real and faked footage begins to piece together a story of a secret soviet space program, where four heroes are chosen for a secret mission into outer space. Unfortunately, only one of them(Alexei Slavnin) is still alive, and he isn't very interesting.

The group of cosmonauts training to be the first person in space consists of a circus dwarf(Andrei Osipov), a female athlete(Viktoria Ilyinskaya) and two pilots, the interviewee (Anatoly Otradnov) and Ivan Kharlamov (Boris Vlasov), who is eventually picked to become the first person into space.

This could have been really fun and interesting, but instead it's actually rather boring. Most of the film concentrates on the training of the quartet, and we don't see too much of that, and the description of the flight's aftermath, with Kharlamov's travels and subsequent mental state shown with faux clippings and some “archival” footage, together with that taken by Fedorchenko's trip to the South Pacific, or at least it should have been because it would have been a really good excuse to go there.

This is a snooze.

Still World The Netherlands, 2005; 30 min.

Written and Directed
by Elbert van Strien

You've gotta have a gimmick. Here, we've got a tale of parinoia told through a series of still photos, which symbolizes the detachment the hero of the piece(Fedja van Huêt) from the world when he discovers his rival(Daan Schuurmans) and not he is was the first to have a book published.

Our hero then decides that there's a secret conspiracy to keep the world mediocre, and tries to prove it. Aside from the gimmick, there's really no story that makes sense except the ravings of a paranoid lunatic. It reminds one of the ending of “Fight Club” but isn't nearly as interesting or fun.

IRON ISLAND Iran 2005; 90 min. - A Kino International release.

Written and Directed
by Mohammad Rasoulof

Somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, the Persian gulf to be exact, is a rusting, derelict oil tanker which has been converted into a village. It's on this titular “iron island” where the fatherly Captain Nemat (Ali Nasirian) presides over a few hundred tenants living their lives. Cannibalizing the ship for money, raising kids and other sundry things while a few eccentrics here and there make life on board not completely boring.

This has the making of a sitcom, sort of “Star Trek” meets “Northern Exposure.” For most of the time, we follow the good captain as he makes his rounds about the ship, and tries to fend off the actual owners of the vessel, who want to sell it for scrap. It's all very cute, but there's a darker plot thread.

Since this is an Iranian film about Sunni Arabs, the mores are very different than here in the west, which is why a clandestine romance between the captain's protégé Ahmad (Hossein Farzi-Zadeh) and the daughter of an occasional resident of vessel (Neda Pakdaman) can turn tragic. Ahmad has, like most of the people on the ship, nothing, while the captain has promised to get the girl a rich husband… the otherwise lovable captain treats this situation not with distinctly nasty attention.

The film ends on a hopeful note. This is what cinema is about. Taking the viewer into a completely alien world and trying to make some sense out of it. Definitely worth a matinee.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Sangre (Blood)

Written and Directed
By Amat Escalante

Diego(Cirilo Recio) is a sad sack security guard working for the Mexican government. He and his wife Blanca(Laura Saldana) live in a run-down apartment in Mexico city and lead a very boring life indeed. They fight, shag and watch TV. Before going to bed or eating. That's pretty much the first two-thirds of the film right there.

There is a bit of a twist, however. Diego has a daughter, Karina(Claudia Orozco), from a previous marrage. She wants to move in, but Blanca won't have it. She hates anything or anyone that reminds Diego of his previous existence. So…there's not much that goes on here either until near the end. But even with this we're bored to tears. I myself had a tough time staying awake.

Don't waste your money.

MAN PUSH CART USA 2005; 87 min.

Written and Directed
by Ramin Bahrani

Ahmad (Ahmad Razvi) is a failure. Once upon a time, he was a major star back in Pakistan, but he came to America with his wife and kid and she died, the in-laws (Arun Lal and Razia Mujahid), took the kidand now he's selling bagels and coffee in a pushcart in Manhattan while living in a tiny apartment in Queens.

So he gets up early every morning to push his cart to the appointed spot, and sell coffee, tea and bagels to the commuters on their way to work. It's a boring life, but he sees no real choice in the matter. A friend of his working in a newspaper stand has mysteriously disappeared and has been replaced by Noemi(Leticia Dolera), who's from Spain and is just off the plane. The romance is tentative, and there's of course, complications,

The complication is opportunity knocking at the door in the form of Mohammad (Charles Daniel Sandoval), a yuppie from Lahore back in Pakistan who was a fan of our hero back before he emigrated. He offers Ahmad some work here and there, and tries to help him network with the Indo/Pak entertainment industry, for what it is, in order to get Ahmad back on track as far as his singing career goes.

Mohammad has some ulterior motives, as he tries to get into Noemi's pants and begins treating Ahmad as more or less a servant. In the meantime Ahmad continues to live his “Groundhog Day” existence pushing his cart to the spot every day. It's both enthralling and boring as hell. Then it turns to shit in the end.

The performance by Raziya is very subdued. There's this air of quiet suffering that pervades the entire film, and we begin to wonder if the character, though trapped wants to get out of where he's at. It's a very sad film and very well done.

A SOAP Denmark, 2006; 104 min.

Written and Directed
by Fischer Christensen

Charlotte (Trine Dyrholm) has just left her live-in boyfriend Kristian(Frank Thiel) and has brought him over to her new digs in order to have him move the bed, he refuses. And leaves in a huff. Meanwhile, downstairs, a drag queen named Ulrik,who calls himself Veronica (David Dencik), is plying her trade as a dominatrix. “Will they ever find what they're looking for?” The narrator(voice of Christian Mosbæk) asks. I hope not.

The problem with this thing is that it doesn't have any really likeable characters. An unconventional romance, we're expected to hope against hope that Charlotte can cure Veronica of his transexuality and become a real man. At least that's what appears to be happening during much of the film, and appearances are everything in cinema, right?

The acting is rather good. Dencik's Victoria is a thoroughly miserable person who hates his body. Clearly when Charlotte begins coming on to him, he WANTS to respond in kind, but he just can't. Dyrholm just plays Charotte as a bitch pure and simple. She has some endearing qualities, but for the most part, she's a manipulative jerk who's the homosexual caricature of what womanhood's all about. The story goes ahead in a decent pace ,but in general there's large masses of dead space between events. The episodic nature of the films structure [the narration is a total waste of time]

The ending is pretty much expected. Fortunately this film isn't how Our tax dollars are spent, only Denmark's. But they shouldn't have to be forced to finance this crap either.

ELEVEN MEN OUT Iceland/Finland/United Kingdom, 2005; 90 min.

Directed by
Robert I. Douglas

This is supposed to be an uplifting tale of self-empowerment, but winds up just the opposite. In fact, this is one of the most misanthropic sports films I've ever seen.

Ottar Thor (Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson) is a star. He's the number one footballer in Iceland, and everyone loves him with maybe the exception of his ex-wife Gugga (Lilja Nott), a former Miss Iceland, but she seems to be okay with the status quo,having joint custody of their son Magnus (Arnmundur Ernst), whom we see as a normal kid. That is until a female reporter tells him that coverage of him and his team is going to be near the back to lack of interest.

So, in order to get on the cover, he comes out of the closet. His entire family is devistaed. His father(Sigurdur Skulason) is furious for not only the expected reasons, but for being blindsided in such a way. He decides on an intervention and we meet the rest of the family, a repulsive brother(co-scenarist Jon Atli Jonasson), who treats his wife like dirt, and when that doesn't work, he, as the coach of the club, throws his son of the team.

A friend invites Ottar to join one of the local amateur clubs, and pretty soon all the straight players have run away and are replaced by gays. The team is dubbed “Pride Untied.” Now if this were a Hollywood movie, we'd concentrate on the team and how they went from success to success with a bump here and there, but this is a government-sponsored European drama, and thus when Ottar has custody of Magnus, the latter arrives to see Dad getting head from a teammate. Mom starts going to pot and winds up in rehab.

Meanwhile, Pride United gets to the top of the league by having most of the other teams default. This is mean spirited. Nobody comes out looking the least bit good, with the possible exception of Magnus's new girlfriend.

The climax is somewhat satisfying, but had the rest of the film not been such a mess, it would have been a lot moreso.

They're rioting in Francia!!!

With the Moslems no longer rioting, the students are at it again. In fact two groups were rioting against different things and began fighting with each other. Cute.


ICEBERG Belgium, 2005; 84 min.

Written and Directed by Dominique Abel,
Fiona Gordon
and Bruno Romy

Dominique Abel, and Fiona Gordon were, for a time, professional circus clowns, and this greatly informs and restricts their abilities as filmmakers. This film proves that editing is important part of the filmmaking process, and that what sometimes works on stage or TV doesn't work on the big screen. Not that the gags don't work, they actually do much of the time, but there's lots of scenes with people just sitting (or standing) there waiting for the scene to start. Dead air almost never works, especially in Belgium.

The film begins with an Eskimo woman(Lucy Tulugarjuk) explaining that she's one of the last speakers of a native language and then explains that she's going to tell how she met her husband. We soon forget about her, as it appears she has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie

Fioana (Gordon) is cleaning up her fast food restaurant, when she gets locked in the freezer, and is discovered the next morning by an employee. It looks like a Carol Burnett episode without the dialogue. What happens next looks like it was inspired by Speilberg's “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and like the characters in the aforementioned film, she becomes obsessed with a distant iceberg somewhere in the far north.

Fiona's husband (Dominique Abel) and two kids(Ophélie Rousseau and Robin Goupil) are worried, but soon she escapes, and winds up on a town on the coast, where she pursues a mute sailor (Philippe Martz), whom she wants to hire to take her to her dream while her husband arrives to take her home.

The big problem with the film is pacing. Even though Gordon and Abel have been doing comedy for years and years, the film is a series of tableaus and gags which may indeed work by themselves but are done in a way where there's a great deal of dead air. The final third of the film, which takes place at sea, is especially so, and gets really old really quick. What was crucial to slapstick comedy in “ancient times” was timing, something this film doesn't really have. Pity.

Terra Incognita Switzerland, 2005; 18 min.

Written and Directed
by Peter Volkart,

“In the Amazon, the prophylactics prowl! In the Amazon, the hypodermics Howl!”-The guy who wrote “American Pie.”

The reason for the above quote is that it's germane. This a mockumentery about the notorious pataphysicist Igor Leschenko,(Paul Avondet) who in the 1920s proved that the laws of gravity were all wrong and had to travel to Nanopol Island, past the distant land of upper Suburbia, and where gravity stops, in order to prove his theories correct. Yeah, sure, and the Russians got to the moon in 1938…Jeez!

This is one of those films that is going to at least make it to the semi-finals for the Oscars next year for the best live-action short subject. It's a hoot.

CAVITE Philippines/USA, 2005; 80 min

Written and Directed by
Ian Gamazon and Neill dela Llana

Adam(Ian Gamazon) is a security guard living in San Diego. His girlfriend (Dominique Gonzalez) is about to leave him and abort their unborn baby at a most inopportune time, His father has just died and has to go all the way back to the Philippines to attend the funeral. He calls his girlfriend in Taipei during the stopover, but that's just a red herring. It's when he arrives in Manilla and he hears a mysterious cel-phone ringing in his suitcase that things begin to get interesting.

A genuine terrorist is on the other end. Tariq(uncredited!) is with a renegade faction of the Abu Sayyif -Al Qaeda's franchise in the Philippines. He's kidnapped Adam's mother and sister, and if our hero doesn't do exactly what he's told, then mom and sis are going to bite the big one.

So begins a trip through various Philippine slums, where Adam is forced to re-engage in a life he had long ago left behind. In the meantime, he has to engage in a dialogue with an abusive Tariq, who seems to be walking alongside him and noticing everything that's going on. This is one of the most omniscient villains ever to almost make it onscreen. Whoever it is who did this has given the performance of a lifetime. Gamazon, who's onscreen for all but a few minutes, is also amazing, giving as good as he gets and running the gambit of emotions.

They said that he didn't want the job of “star” but he didn't have the money to hire anybody else. That may have been a blessing in disguise, because everything is perfect, and the dilemma he has to face near the end is truly horrifying

There is a reason why this won the Independent Spirit Award® for best foreign film. This is one scary thriller!!! It's amazing what you can do with almost no money nowadays.

Detail Germany 2005; 7 min

Directed by
Kanwal Sethi

A large brick is moved in the territories. This is the way the Germans denounce the Jews nowadays. Don't they know they'll never have any credibility on this subject?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Muslim Groups to Bring Denmark Before Human-Rights Court Over Prophet Cartoons

The gift that keeps on giving. Now they want the European court of human rights to cite Denmark for not arresting cartoonists for violating Islamic law. Ik.

Muslim Groups to Bring Denmark Before Human-Rights Court Over Prophet Cartoons

A network of Danish Muslim organizations will bring Denmark before an international human-rights court for not pressing charges against the newspaper that first published the contentious Prophet Mohammed cartoons, Danish radio reported Friday . .

NDNF two

OCTOBER 17, 1961 France, 2005; 106 min

Directed by
Alain Tasma

From 1954 to 1962, France was at war with the world. It's colonial empire was crumbling, and that sparked revolution at home. The Fifth French Republic was less than three years old in the summer of 1961, and the war with the Algerian separatists wasn't going very well.

The Front de Libération Natunal (FLN), as the separatists called themselves, had taken to killing policemen in the Paris area, terrorism being an old tactic even then, and the cops were, to put it mildly, pissed off.

Martin(Jean-Michel Portal) is a cop, who's been targeted by the FLN. He doesn't like the situation, and is going to retire as soon as possible, as the terror is working quite efficiently, and his comrades-in-arms do the same thing with poor Algerians like Abde (Ouassini Embarek), who only wants to get his elementary education certificate so he can get into a real job training program.

But the terrorists and the French government are negotiating offstage, and police chief Papon (Thierry Fortineau), who's a genuine war criminal, wants to keep things relatively quiet until an agreement could be reached.

So on the one hand, you have the Algerian terrorists, and on the other you have the cops, who see every Algerian as a terrorist and act accordingly…and sometimes even moreso. What is amazing here is that the NLF leadership decided to have a spontaneous protest on the evening of October 17,1961. It was supposed to be peaceful, with no one having weapons of any kind.

Now if the protest had been voluntary, and the there had been some sort of agreement with the authorities the atrocities of the evening on the part of the police wouldn't have happened, but the whole thing was botched on the part of the Algerians and quite a few were killed.

The cover-up of the incident continued for years.

The film is quite even handed. We get to sympathize with elements of both sides, but since this is a film about French history for the French, we don't get the context. Its also a bit to pat and not dramatic enough. There should be a lesson somewhere, but sadly, there isn't.

LOOK BOTH WAYS Australia 2005

Written and Directed
by Sarah Watt

Sarah Watt is primarily an animator, she's done a number of award-winning shorts, but for some reason, she decided that cartooning is enough and has gone forward to directing and writing “real” films. But not quite yet ready to abandon her animated roots, she's kept some in to provide some balance. It works.

This, is a really morbid film. Death and destruction are everywhere. Just the setting for a romantic comedy, I guess, which is what this is.

Meryl (Justine Clarke) is a cartoonist working for a greeting card company, therefore she thinks in cartoons, and these are all about death and destruction. She sees a train, and in her mind it crashes into a mountainside, Cute dogs attack her, sharks do too. But then as she's walking home along the railroad tracks, an extra gets run over by a train offstage.

Nick (William McInness) has just been told by his doctor that he's got testicular cancer and it's metastasized throughout his body. He goes to work, he's a photographer for the local newspaper and tells his editor Phil (Andrew S. Gilbert) about the situation. He's told to go home, but just then Andy(Anthony Hayes), who's going off to cover the abovementioned fatal accident. Andy doesn't think that it's an accident at all. He's ticked off about his life, and thinks that lots of men in his position just throw themselves in front of trains and off bridges and the like and these are counted as accidents.

While Andy interviews Meryl, Nick takes pictures of the site, and along comes the widow(Daniela Farinacci),, and gets a great photo, which is critical to the proceedings, for Andy thinks that it doesn't illustrate the point of his column, and the widow and a number of other minor characters react to it in different ways.

It seems that Nick and Meryl live near each other, and he walks her home, and soon there's a romance blossoming. We get into his head too, and he thinks in photos. Unfortunatly, nobody else gets to imagine out loud, as this is an ensemble piece, going back and forth between the various characters including Andy's wife and his newly pregnant girlfriend Anna (Lisa Flanagan) who isn't sure how to handle the situation.

The romance that develops is the counterpoint from the overwhelming air of depression that pervades the film. Everyone feels awful, Meryl has just got home from her dad's funeral, but for some reason, this is a joyful affirmation of life. How the director manages to do it is a minor miracle. See it when it comes out on cable in the summer.

Pia Ecuador 2005; 9 min.

Written and Directed
by Javier Andrade

Pia, and Ecuadorian teenager has just had an abortion before her quitacera (a kind of bat mitzvah kind of thing), and confronts her ex-boyfriend about it. It's not that great a film, but it shows promice from a place which doesn't have any real native industry. Not bad.

New Directors, New Films series

The "New Directors, New Films" series at the Museum of Modern art is considered one of the top film festivals in the US, and last year, two of the films here got an Oscar nomination. So here we are again, today, we've got two features:

HALF NELSON USA, 2006; 106 min.

Directed by
Ryan Fleck

“I am not now, nor have ever been…”
“A communist.”

So says our hero Dan Dunne(Ryan Gosling) when he arrives to a colleague's
(Monique Gabriela Curnen) apartment in order to apologize and get laid.

This is not the pivotal moment in what's basically misbegotten look at education and what redemption means. Actually, Dan is indeed a communist of sorts. He's a history teacher working in an inner city school, where he tries to indoctrinate his students in the truth of the Hegelian dialectic, that shows history will inevitably wind up with a Communist government led by the party.

What is, is very near the beginning of the film, when Dan gets caught smoking crack and is caught by his student Drey (Shareeka Epps). He's far more damaged than she is, and even so, he decides to “save” her. Obviously, she's the one to attempt to save him.

Dave's former girlfriend Rachel (Tina Holmes),; who he, of course, met in rehab; is engaged to someone else, his mom keeps demanding that he come to dinner, and his boss wants him to teach the curriculum instead of Marxism-for-tweens. It's enough to drive one to drink or worse.

Dre is a typical stereotype. Extremely precocious, she and her mother(Karen Chilton) is raising her alone, as Dad is off somewhere, and, with few friends except a local drug dealer named Frank (Anthony Mackie), she's into basketball and wants to make something of herself.

They make a bit of an odd couple these two. The problem is that there isn't much chemistry between the two leads, and this is primarily due to Miss Epps, who despite her age, is a terrible actress. Secondarily, it's the script, which is overly sanctimonious, especially with the use of archival footage, to give the appearance of Dave's methods being somehow true. It's not.

This is the usual waste of celluloid that many in the indie world like so much for some reason. This isn't worth the bucks.


Directed by
Auraeus Solito

One of the reasons people go to film festivals is to see exotic films from distant lands, and this qualifies as such. Maxi (Nathan Lopez) is an extremely gay twelve-year old who lives in the slums of Manila with his widowed father Paca (Soliman Cruz) and brothers Boy (Neil Ryan Sese) and Bogs (Ping Medina). Dad and the two older brothers are minor hoods, trafficking in stolen cel phones and pirate DVDs. It's not that bad a life for the area, Maxi likes to hang out with the local girls and participate in their activities. In fact, for the first third of the film, this is pretty much a comedy.

Then it begins to turn dark. Maxi is attacked by some local tuffs, and is rescued by a new local cop named Victor (JR Valentin). It's love at first sight…or rather a girlish crush on a hunky guy. Even though Paca and his older sons are more than okay with the fact that Maxi is as queer as they come [he does the cooking, cleaning and the like], they don't really like that the crush is a cop, and when Bogs accidentally kills a robbery victim, Things begin to turn ugly very quickly and poor Maxi is soon in a quandary, should he stay loyal to his family, who loves him, or follow his heart and stand by his crush, who clearly doesn't.

Okay, aside from the gay angle, this is actually a rather conventional film. Had Maxi been a girl, no one would have even thought of exporting this thing. But it isn't and it's saved by the brilliant work of young Nathen Lopez, who swishes and preens his way into our hearts. The relationship between him and Victor is a complex one, and Victor begins as all white and then turns distinctly grey.

One can see why it made it into the international festival circuit.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Milosevic is dead.

Pity it wasn't a public execution.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Oscars

I'm going to watch tonight, although I don't really carea all that much who wins.If you go back to my review ofBrokeback Mountain from last September, I didn't like it all that much. I liked Crash, but I saw it back in '04 and don't really remember it all that well.

I'm rooting for King Kong to win the technical awards because it was stiffed on all the big ones.

The next film festival is "New Directors/New Films, which starts having press screenings tomarrow.