J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Mark Dacascos’s Showdown in Manila

Maybe Trump shouldn’t have asked for so many encores from Duterte, the Mindinaoan Fog. Ordinarily, you would think when an American FBI agent is gunned down on the beach of the Philippines’ most exclusive tourist hotels, the cops would be slightly keyed up to catch the killers. Unfortunately, his widow will have to retain the services of an unlikely private investigator, Russian Nick Peyton, a former Manila copper and his American sex addict partner, Charlie Benz, in Mark Dacascos’s Showdown in Manila (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in Los Angeles.

How did a Russian stiff like Peyton get on the Manila force in the first place? Apparently, it was his fast-and-loose approach to due process and that kind of stuff. These days, he mainly works divorce cases and his partner Benz causes them. Mark Wells’ new widow is a bit frustrated with the local cops. Everyone knows he was gunned down by the notorious drug lord Aldric Cole and his men. She can even whip up a portrait of him, since she is a former police sketch artist.

The problem isn’t identifying Cole, it’s finding him. Fortunately, Peyton will be able to track him down by laying a beating on several of his known associates. While they are at it, Peyton and Cole will also rescue Kiki, a lapsed recovering teen addict they both seem to take a creepy fatherly interest in.

Thank Heavens, Cynthia Rothrock, Don “The Dragon” Lee, and Olivier Gruner all show up to save the film’s bacon when it is time to launch an assault on Cole’s jungle hideout-meth lab. They are also old colleagues from the Manila SWAT team, or whatever. In any case, when they are shooting the living the snot out of Cole’s men, Showdown is pure 1980s gold.

Unfortunately, it takes about an hour to get to that point. Still, Alexander Nevsky (the actor, not the Thirteenth Century Russian Prince) and Casper Van Dien are tolerably chummy as Peyton and Benz. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Matthias Hues chew plenty of scenery as Cole and his chief henchman, Dorn. Philippine teen idol Hazel Faith Dela Cruz has some screen presence, but as Kiki, she looks totally out of place in this ostensibly gritty story. Of course, Rothrock, Lee, and Gruner do their thing as Haines, Dillon, and Ford, basically the cavalry. However, Dacascos kills himself off too early as Wells, because he definitely still has the moves. As a bonus, that really is Tia Carrere as Mrs. Wells.

Dacascos helms the big action scenes with the sort of lucid professionalism fans prefer. We’ll take the clarity of Isaac Florentine over the shaky-cam of Paul Greenglass every time. Everybody seems to enjoy the big smack down with Rothrock and company, like a sort of mini-b-movie Expendables featurette, for good reason. Indeed, a little less talking, a little less Nevsky, a little more action, and a little more Dacascos and this film would have really been getting somewhere. Worth catching on VOD as a nostalgia trip, Showdown in Manila opens tomorrow (1/19) in LA, at the Laemmle Music Hall.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mom and Dad: Filicide with Nic Cage

This film is like a poisoned slice of apple pie. Somehow, motherhood has been corrupted, as has fatherhood, right along with it. The how’s and why’s are a mystery, but for whatever reason, parents are caught up in a psychotic urge to murder their children. It is probably Trump’s fault, or maybe Brexit is to blame. Regardless, if you see your parents, run like mad in screenwriter-director Brian Taylor’s Mom and Dad (trailer here) which opens this Friday in New York.

We can infer that staticky white noise infecting broadcast signals is to blame, but whether it is supernatural or terrorism—whose to say? It started while most kids were at school or sitting for their SATs, but it eventually exploded into a full-scale crisis. It only applies to parents and their direct spawn, so teachers and emergency personnel will do their best to protect the future generations, but it is hard to convince all those dumb kids to avoid the very people who have nurtured them all their lives.

The Ryans’ teen daughter Carly has been a bit of a pill lately, so she stands a good chance of being the final girl. Seeing the phenomenon affecting her friends’ parents, she scrambles home to protect her little brother Josh. Presumably, their dad Brent is still at work and their mother Kendall (man, are these ever some white names) is at the hospital with her mega-pregnant sister (that situation gets extremely messed up), but both will come racing home with murderous intentions.

Probably the evilest and most effective aspect of M&D is the way Taylor slyly hints that the sinister whatsit only amplifies dark urges that were already buried deep within every over-worked, under-appreciated parent. He doesn’t spend any time on the mayhem device, because he doesn’t need to. It is just the push the Ryans have been waiting for.

Finally, M&D is the film that fully and necessarily capitalizes on Nic Cage’s bat-scat crazy acting style. He shows Brent Ryan’s dark side, in all its twitchy, seething fury. While Cage goes up, over, and out, Selma Blair is severely restrained, repressed, and resentfully self-denying as Ms. Ryan. When they get together and go crazy, they make quite a pair. However, all bets are off when the great Lance Henriksen shows up as Grandpa Ryan.

M&D is unrepentantly violent and subversive, to its unending credit. Frustratingly, Taylor leaves a few obvious avenues unexplored, like what happens to parents who adopted? Maybe that will be grist for a sequel. Regardless, the film is way more psychologically believable and compelling than a lot of folks will want to admit. Highly recommended for fans of horror films and Nic Cage tantrums, Mom and Dad opens this Friday (1/19) in New York, at the Cinema Village.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hiroshima: Lessons of the Hibakusha

Eiji Okada was from Chiba, but cineastes will be forgiven if they assumed he was from Hiroshima. He worked with auteurs like Teshigahara and Naruse, but he is best remembered for Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima Mon Amour. In Resnais’s film, he and Emmanuelle Riva were trying to forget their pasts, but six years earlier, he played a crusading school teacher working to keep the memory of the Atomic bombing fresh and vital in the Japanese public consciousness. Fresh from a critical rediscovery, Hideo Sekigawa’s Hiroshima screens this Friday at the Japan Society.

Mr. Kitagawa is new in town, so he is initially a bit insensitive to the ongoing struggles of the hibakusha survivor students. However, when one of his students nearly passes out from a nose bleed, he starts to get the picture. About one-third of his class are hibakusha and the other two-thirds are insensitive Hellions. However, he will slowly instill in the latter some empathy and historical perspective. The story of a former classmate named Endo will be particularly instructive. He and his little sister are two of the primary survivors Sekigawa follows in the extended second act flashback to the pikadon flash-boom.

Hiroshima was bankrolled by the Japanese Teacher’s Union, so its pedagogical excesses make some kind of sense. It literally starts with a classroom lecture and features interludes of students reading international “peace” manifestos (or anti-American tracts) verbatim. It is a shame because the relationship between Kitagawa and his students has real potency.

Of course, the horrors of the bombing are the film’s reason for being. Each characters’ tragedy is certainly heartrending, but the film never reaches the exquisite poignancy of Shohei Imamura’s Black Rain, probably because it lacks a relationship as well developed as the Yoshiko Tanaka-Kazuo Kitamura father-daughter bond.

Okada is very good as Kitagawa and many of the young cast-members are quite extraordinary. Screenwriter Yasutaro Yagi earns a bit of credit for at least mentioning the Bataan Death March and Pearl Harbor. However, the Rape of Nanjing, the Alexandra Hospital Massacre, and the sexual enslavement of “Comfort Women” would have been more to the point. Just how Japan would have been forced to surrender without an Earth-shaking game-changer like the Atomic bomb is never addressed in protest films like this. Nevertheless, we feel deeply for the innocent children, who were just as much victims of their militant government’s intransigence. Recommended as a human drama rather than a history lesson, Hiroshima screens this Friday (1/19), at the Japan Society in Turtle Bay.

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Yor, the Hunter from the Future: 35 Years Young

It was an Italian adaptation of an Argentinian comic book, filmed in Turkey, starring a former USC star fullback best-known for playing Captain America. It is definitely a product of its time—1983—so it does its best to rip-off both Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian. Yes, it is cheesy, but it is nostalgic cheese for viewers who bite into Antonio Margheriti (a.k.a. Anthony M. Dawson)’s Yor, the Hunter from the Future (trailer here), which releases today in a “special” 35th Anniversary BluRay edition, from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Yor just happened to be ambling along when he saved Kala from a demonic stegosaurus. Since she is the daughter of the late chieftain, her tribe welcomes Yor with open arms, especially Pag, her grizzled protector. Unfortunately, Yor will not be enough to save her people when a tribe of pseudo-Morlocks launches a sneak attack. Technically, the Blue Meanies abducted Kala fair and square, but Yor doesn’t cotton to their ways, so he rescues her right back. Yet, just when Kala is starting to feel it between them, he lights out in search of Tarita, a reputed witch, who wears an amulet identical to the one Yor sports.

Alas, the love triangle will not last long, but another oppressed tribe points Yor towards an outpost of futuristic scientists, from whom he and Tarita are descended. Sadly, the post-apocalyptic survivors are subjugated by the accurately titled Overlord, who rules with the help of an army of clones, whose armor ever so coincidentally resembles Darth Vader. Of course, there is a resistance movement that has been waiting years for a stone age barbarian to come lead them to the promised land.

Reb Brown never really caught on, but his pageboy-loincloth-and-mukluk look as Yor is weirdly iconic. Corinne Cléry is most famous for playing the lead role in Story of O and a Bond Girl in Moonraker, so it shouldn’t be rocket science to figure out why she was cast as Kala. Ironically, one of the biggest names in the film at the time was British Giallo veteran John Steiner, who is practically unrecognizable as the Overlord. Poor Luciano Pigozzi (often billed as “Alan Collins,” as he is here) always looks like he is on the brink of a heart attack, but somehow he survived his stint as Pag.

Good old Yor is definitely more cult than classic, but it still brings back fond memories of early 1980s science fiction. It would make a great triple feature with Krull and Spacehunter: Adventures of the Forbidden Zone, which also originally released in 1983. In terms of aesthetics and craftsmanship, Yor is the least of the three, but it has its cornball appeal (everyone keys in on the theme song, so we won’t even go there). Recommended nostalgic riffing, Yor, the Hunter from the Future is now available in the unfussy anniversary BluRay edition it so richly deserves, from Mill Creek Entertainment.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Small Town Crime: Noir at its Booziest

Mike Kendall sounds like a nice, progressive fellow. He was adopted by an African American family and now his best friend is his brother-in-law. He could almost be a character in a Norman Lear sitcom, if he weren’t such a boozy, self-sabotaging low life. However, he just might earn himself a bit of redemption if he can bring the murderers of a prostitute to justice in Eshom & Ian Nelms’ Small Town Crimes (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Kendall longs to return to the police force, but that just isn’t happening after he helplessly watched his partner get gunned down while in a drunken state. Waking up from his nightly bender on the outskirts of town, Kendall discovers the badly beaten body of a young girl. He racers her to the hospital, but she will not make it. For some reason, Kendall cannot leave things as they are. He starts his own independent investigation, even bluffing the victim’s well-heeled grandfather to retain his services as a private investigator (not that he’s licensed, mind you).

Yet, much to the exasperation of the real cops working the case, Kendall starts developing some genuine leads. In fact, he gets close enough to prompt the killers to target his sister Kelly Banks, and her good-natured husband Teddy. Kendall has them convinced he has a legit temp job, which is sort of true, but he is also kidding himself regarding his general crime-fighting fitness.

STC is a sly noir in the Jim Thompson tradition, featuring an absolutely terrific performance from John Hawkes. Just when you think he has finally bottomed out, he finds a way to sink even lower. Just looking at his haggard, drawn face gives you the urge to pop an aspirin with some hair-of-the-dog.

Hawkes owns this film, but he has some worthy support from a colorful cast of characters, including the eternally steely Robert Forster at the peak of his steeliness, as the sharp-shooting estranged grandpa, Steve Yendel. Hawkes and Anthony Anderson’s Teddy Banks also play off each other quite amiably, while executive producer Octavia Spencer is believably exasperated but still completely human and compassionate as his long-suffering sister Kelly. Plus, Clifton Collins Jr. is the total wildcard, who constantly cranks up the energy and attitude as the victim’s eccentrically righteous pimp, “Mood.”

The Nelms Brothers have a few prior indie films to their credit, but STC deserves to be their breakout. We’d also be happy to see it spawn a bleary-eyed Mike Kendall franchise. He might actually be the most dissolute movie detective since who knows when, but that is all part of his charm. Enthusiastically recommended, Small Town Crime opens this Friday (1/19) in New York, at the Village East.

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The Road Movie: The Dash-Cam is Watching

These are the folks who keep voting for Putin. In addition to trading Olympic hosting duties with China, Russia should also become the permanent home of the Darwin Awards. At least viewers could jolly well come to that conclusion after watching this compilation of Russian dash-cam footage. In any event, the spectacularly crackheaded vehicular misbehavior is never dull to behold in Dimitrii Kalashnikov’s The Road Movie (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

To be fair, the snowy Russian winters do not do motorists any favors. There are indeed plenty of clips featuring cars and tractor-trailers gliding gracefully towards the recording dash-cam car, like a figure skater. Then there is also the woman who used a butane lighter to illuminate her gas tank while pumping petrol. Gasoline plus open flame. You do the math.

Most of the footage assembled in Road Movie fits somewhere on the spectrum between Jackass and the particularly horrifying 1960s driver’s ed industrial films, like Dice in a Box (which explained how vans are basically death traps on wheels). Yet, just when you think it isn’t political, Kalashnikov shows about a dozen SWAT-style cops shaking down an unlucky dash-cam owner in an apparently bogus traffic stop. How much could they possibly hope to extort from him—a few thousand rubles? They really ought to be more ambitious in their corruption.

Moments like that elevate Road Movie beyond an online super-cut. Serving as his own editor, Kalashnikov (fittingly, like the assault rifle) has a shrewd eye for tension and telling details. The frequent presence of words like “b*tch” and “f*g” are surely no coincidence, but an effort to reflect street level attitudes. Seriously, these are the people who tampered with our election? That’s truly terrifying. Yet, nobody can blame him for what found its way into the film. The dash-cam has a fixed, unfiltered perspective. How you enter its field of vision is on you.

Road Movie clocks in at a mere sixty-nine minutes, but a concept like this could easily turn lame if it were conspicuously padded. Kalashnikov gives it enough of veneer of sociological inquiry to make this massive exercise in rubber-necking feel respectable. Indeed, it is often a literal traffic wreck that we can’t turn away from. Recommended for mayhem seekers and anyone perversely curious about the state of the world, The Road Movie opens this Friday (1/19) in New York, at the Quad Cinema downtown and the AMC Empire in Midtown.

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Tall: The American Skyscraper and Louis Sullivan

Say what you will about Ayn Rand, but she understood American architecture. While most people recognize the protagonist of The Fountainhead was transparently inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, fewer understand his mentor, Henry Cameron was largely based on Wright’s first boss and formative influence, Louis Sullivan. Unfortunately, Sullivan’s uniquely American aesthetic was overlooked in favor of his great rival’s hodge-podge eclecticism. Sullivan’s life and the development of multi-story steel-frame buildings are chronicled in Manfred Kirchheimer’s Tall: The American Skyscraper and Louis Sullivan (clip here) which opens this Friday in New York.

Tall starts by inviting the audience to look up and then explains how those buildings got so high. We get a nutshell explanation of traditional (and not so traditional) building techniques—post-and-lintel, arches, cantilevers—in order to establish the significance of steel frame building techniques.

Sullivan was definitely an early adopter. His skyscrapers (modest by our standards, but lofty in their day) also featured tasteful decorative elements that clearly shaped Wright’s aesthetics. Sullivan contributed significantly to the growth of Chicago, but his rival Daniel Burnham sabotaged his rise, by marginalizing his contribution to the World’s Columbian Exposition. To his credit, Kirchheimer is even-handed in his assessment of Burnham, praising some of his work, including the good old Flatiron Building (which you could argue is his most Sullivanesque building).

In Tall, Kirchheimer gives viewers context and insight to better appreciate the cityscapes surrounding them, which is a gift. Frankly, this film is getting its belated premiere theatrical run at a time when it is sorely needed. We are increasingly in danger of losing our collective cultural memory for music, literature and films that were previously considered classic. Architectural awareness has always ranked even lower in the collective consciousness. Yet, how impoverished are those who pass by the work of Wright, Sullivan, and Burnham, without understanding their artistic and functional significance.

Kirchheimer assembles a collage of striking architectural images, many archival, but a good deal were also captured by his battery of cinematographers: Zachary Alspaugh, Peter Rinaldi, and Taiki Sugioka. Tall also sounds great, thanks to his tasteful music choices, including selections of Miles Davis and Count Basie, as well as constantly-working character actor Dylan Baker’s warm but authoritative narration. The film is not biography per se, but it definitely establishes the tragic nature of Sullivan’s life and greatly humanizes Wright, who is often portrayed as a distant genius, staring off into the lofty heights, as icons are likely to do.

Tall is a highly accessible documentary, but it is also clearly the product of a thoughtful craftsman. It should definitely spur an increase in the understanding of and interest in architecture with general audiences, which would be enriching, since architecture is all around us. Very highly recommended, Tall: The American Skyscraper and Louis Sullivan opens this Friday (1/19) in New York, at the Metrograph.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

NYJFF ’18: The Invisibles

Even under the oppressive National Socialist regime, at the height of the war, homelessness afforded a cloak of invisibility—fortunately. The air raid blackouts also helped. Even after Berlin had been declared “free of Jews” in 1943, an estimated seven thousand remained in hiding throughout the city. About 1,700 would survive the war and outlive their tormentors. Four of those survivors tell their stories in Claus Räfle’s dramatic-documentary hybrid, The Invisibles (trailer here), which screens during this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival.

When it comes to surviving, Cioma Schönhaus set a new standard. For a while, he lived night-to-night pretending to be a new draftee summoned to Berlin, living in spare rooms provided by patriotic Germans for recruits awaiting their formal mustering. Eventually, he fell in with a counterfeiting ring and saved thousands of German Jews and dissidents with his fake papers, while also making enough money to eat in fancy restaurants.

After dying her hair blonde, Hanni Lévy spent her days in cinemas and window-shopping on the Kurfürstendamm, but she never knew where she would spend her nights or where her meals would come from. Ruth Arndt and her sister would eventually become maids for a high-ranking military officer, who knowingly shielded them from his colleagues. Eugen Friede probably lived a more typically “hidden” existence, but he too would become involve with the resistance.

Frankly, it is pretty amazing how little time Räfle’s subjects spent locked away in attics, like Anne Frank’s family. Instead, they largely followed a hide-in-plain-sight strategy, which seemed to work, because the National Socialists never expected such the-heck-with-it gutsiness. Of course, their involvement in resistance networks would raise the stakes even further if they were caught.

There have been previous films that combined talking head documentary segments with dramatic representations, but usually one has been conspicuously privileged over the other. However, Räfle gives them both equal weight. Probably the strongest performance is that of Alice Dwyer as the desperate Lévy, but the late Schönhaus’s recollections are the most fascinating. Nevertheless, the entire ensemble is quite strong and the oral history of all four survivors is profoundly valuable.

We think we know everything there is to know about the horrors of National Socialism, but Invisibles will add further dimension to our understanding. Yet, all four survivors go out of their way to celebrate the righteous Germans who sheltered them. What Invisibles documents and dramatizes is really pretty darned incredible. Very highly recommended, The Invisibles screens this coming Thursday (1/18) and Sunday (1/21), at the Walter Reade, as part of the 2018 NYJFF.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

NYJFF ’18: Across the Waters

1943 was an awkward time to be a Danish jazz musician playing in a style inspired by Django Reinhardt’s Hot Club of France. Being Jewish was even more dangerous for Arne Itkin and his family. Denmark was an exception to the norm in occupied Europe, because of the high survival rate for Danish Jews and the extensive defiance among everyday Danes. Unfortunately, the October 6th tragedy in the seaside village of Gilleleje was the exception to the exception. That is exactly where the Itkins are headed in Nicolo Donato’s Across the Waters (trailer here) which screens during the 2018 New York Jewish Film Festival.

Initially, Itkin refused to believe there was any danger of French-style round-ups, because of the high degree of autonomy the protectorate government negotiated. He was wrong. As a result, his family was not as prepared as it should have been to seek passage to Sweden (where his well-to-do in-laws were already safely established). For a while, Itkin kept lugging his guitar, believing it would help serve their needs in Sweden, but it will not survive the close calls on the road to Gillejele.

Most of the Calvinistic Gilleleje villagers believe it is their Christian duty to aid all Jewish refugees, especially Niels Børge Lund Ferdinansen, the unofficial leader of the skippers and Donato’s grandfather. Unfortunately, his brother-in-law Kaj is an exploitative war-profiteer—and that’s when he is at his best.

Across depicts probably the ugliest incident in Danish history as a way of portraying the best of the Danish resistance. This is not a dumbed-down morality play. Both Jews and ostensibly Christian villagers alike make bad decisions and act disgracefully out of fear or panic. Yet, the fact remains, the overwhelming majority of the village refused to participate in injustice.

As Arne and Miriam Itkin, David Dencik and Danica Curcic hardly have time to catch their breath during the tense, on-the-run first half of the film, but they really lower the boom in the tragic Gillejele-set scenes. Jakob Cedergren also helps humanize Donato’s revered grandfather, while sacrificing none of his heroism. Nicolas Bro is boldly and fiercely contemptible as the irredeemable Kaj, while his real-life sister Laura Bro is quietly devastating as the profoundly sad and deeply disappointed Katrine Ferdinansen.

There have been many well-meaning, competently executed survivor stories previously dramatized on the big screen before, but in this case, music helps distinguish Across from the pack. There is a nice large ensemble Hot Club musical number that helps establish the Itkins’ passion for life, but Jesper Mechlenburg’s closing original song, “Safe and Sound” has a strikingly somber, somewhat Leonard Cohen-esque vibe that really sums up the essence of the film. Highly recommended for general audiences, Across the Waters screens this Thursday afternoon (1/18) and Saturday evening (1/20), at the Walter Reade, as part of this year’s NYJFF.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

NYJFF ’18: The Mission of Raoul Wallenberg

As cover stories go, the official Communist Party line on the fate of Swedish diplomat-humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg was pretty bad. The official story is Wallenberg was accidentally arrested and passed away while languishing in Lubyanka Prison. That doesn’t exactly put you in the mood to sing “The Internationale,” does it? Yet, for years, Wallenberg’s family and admirers suspected his true fate was certainly more mysterious and possibly even worse. Alexander Rodnyanskiy set out to investigate the Wallenberg case as far as 1990 Glasnost policies would allow, but it turned out that wouldn’t be so very far after all judging from the resulting documentary, The Mission of Raoul Wallenberg¸ which screens again as a restored revival selection, twenty-five years after its original New York Jewish Film Festival premiere.

It was not merely false hope. For years, eyewitness accounts of prisoners claiming to have seen Wallenberg in various work camps and prisons trickled out of the Soviet Union. It wasn’t just the Wallenberg family asking questions. The tens of thousands of Jewish Hungarians saved by Wallenberg, including future U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, also wanted answers. In 1990, Wallenberg’s sister traveled to the USSR, assuming Glasnost would open all the vaults and archives to her. Alas, she was over-optimistic.

Rodnyanskiy’s documentary definitely investigates the Wallenberg disappearance, chasing down false leads and plausible but uncorroborated witness statements. However, it is also very clearly testing the limits of the supposedly new order, finding them not so different from the old regime. We see plenty of stone-walling, dissembling, and crude bureaucratic runaround. Even though Rodnyanskiy is the first to admit it does not make much sense for the Soviets to keep such an explosively embarrassing prisoner locked away somewhere for decades. Yet, all the evasiveness Rodnyanskiy captures just vindicates and further stokes our suspicions.

Mission is an amazing work of documentary filmmaking that renders a severe judgement against the Soviet Union’s past and present. Its future would also turn out to be just as disappointing. However, the Ukrainian Rodnyanskiy has evolved into one of Russia’s finest film producers, whose credits include Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan. This is a frustrating film, but due to no fault of Rodnyanskiy. Sadly, it is just as timely now as it was then. Very highly recommended, the freshly restored, historically significant The Mission of Raoul Wallenberg screens this coming Monday (1/15) and Wednesday (1/17), at the Walter Reade, as part of the 2018 NYJFF.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

NYJFF ’18: Sammy Davis Jr—I’ve Gotta Be Me

Jazz fans and hardcore cabaret connoisseurs can still enjoy their favorite musicians in clubs, but Sammy Davis Jr might be the last headliner who could lure average folks into a nightclub. You can bet he always made it worth their while. He is one of the few entertainers who found success in film, television, the recording industry, Broadway, and Las Vegas casinos. Yet, in this day and age, he strikes many as an awkward anachronism, despite his documented popularity and gutsy activism. Davis gets his due for the trailblazing social significance of his life and career in Sam Pollard’s Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me (trailer here), which screens during this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival.

At the age of seven, Davis justified all of W.C. Fields’ warnings by up-staging the great Ethel Waters in Rufus Jones for President. Ever since then, he was in show business, aside from an unpleasant stint in the military. That all probably fits with the narrative you expected, but Pollard opens with Davis’s literal embrace of Pres. Nixon and his 1972 re-election campaign. Davis took a lot of flak for it, but he stood his ground and largely won over his critics. However, during the course of the film, we come to understand how he reached that point.

In fact, Pollard does a nice job of balancing considerations of Davis as a performer, activist, patriot, and hipster icon. He forthrightly addresses JFK’s instruction to drop Davis’s performance from the inaugural ball. Conversely, Nixon also gets due credit for inviting the first African American to stay overnight in the Lincoln bedroom. That was Davis.

However, the assorted commentators do not really get the full context of their friendship. Nixon was a lifelong friend of Lionel Hampton, going back to his first congressional campaign and formed a fast friendship with Duke Ellington, after his 70th birthday appearance at the White House. Maybe Nixon really wasn’t racist—he just preferred people who were older, more conservative, and overcame mean circumstance early in life, just like himself.

It is also disappointing Pollard could not shoe-horn in consideration of Davis’s film A Man Called Adam, because it really is fascinating. Portraying a trumpet player transparently modeled on Miles Davis, SDJ mentors a young musician played by Frank Sinatra Jr and humiliates his sleazy booking agent played by fellow Rat-packer, Peter Lawford. Mel Torme plays himself—and he’s great, while Louis Armstrong depicts an analogue of himself in a heartbreakingly poignant turn.

Frankly, it is depressing how many of Davis’s contemporaries are also gone, but Pollard features talking head segments with several former associates and friends like Quincy Jones and Diahann Carroll. Without question, the most powerful memories are those of former lover Kim Novak and friend-and-mentor Jerry Lewis.

Gotta Be Me will inspire nostalgia for those who remember Davis for his Newly-Bricusse hits and campy appearances in films like the original Cannonball Run. It will also lead to greater appreciation of Davis as an activist and advocate (pro-Civil Rights, anti-war, pro-Nixon). He was complicated, as well as multi-talented. Highly recommended, Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me screens this Sunday (1/14) at the Walter Reade, as part of the 2018 NYJFF.

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First Look ’18: Railway Sleepers

If you ever book a ticket on Thailand’s rail system, make sure you have forty or fifty baht in your pocket. That is because there are no shortage of hawkers selling tasty sounding street food like fried peanuts, fermented pork, and pork dumplings for a mere ten baht. Of course, most western tourists are up in first class, where you can enjoy some fine dining during overnights. Sompot “Boat” Chidgasornpongse documents the breadth and diversity of Thai society, as reflected by the passengers of each and every line of the Thai railroad in Railway Sleepers (trailer here) which screens during this year’s First Look at the Museum of the Moving Image.

There is something soothing (or lulling) about rail travel, as the frequently dozing passengers remind us. It is not called Railway Sleepers for nothing. Chidgasornpongse is mostly content to observe, offering commentary sparingly and obliquely, as when the aisles are suddenly patrolled by heavily armed soldiers rather than fried peanut vendors.

We clearly see passengers who are rich and poor, old and young, and Buddhist and Muslim. Unfortunately, we just see them and rarely listen to them converse, which is a shame, because they probably have a lot of interesting things to say. In fact, that is why J.P. Sniadeki’s thematically similar The Iron Ministry was such a rich and engaging viewing experience. It essentially immersed viewers in the man-on-the-street opinions and concerns of a wide cross-section of Chinese society. In contrast, Sleepers is really about how the passengers relate to the train itself.

Still, Chidgasornpongse has a keen eye for imagery and the involvement of his former mentor-boss Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul is sure to spur interest on the festival circuit. It does stimulate train-based nostalgia. If you went to school in the Midwest, you maybe miss the sound of distant train whistles when you’re turning in around 3:00 in the morning. Yet, it just doesn’t stimulate on a social-intellectual level the way Iron Ministry does (but, it should be granted that is a really good documentary).

Those who are admirers of the Sensory Ethnology Lab’s documentaries (which indeed includes Ministry, as well as Sniadecki’s Yumen and People’s Park) should definitely appreciate Railway Sleepers, but even Joe Weerasethakul fans might catch their heads nodding. Best saved for an elite slow cinema-vérité audience, Railway Sleepers screens this Sunday (1/14), as part of First Look 2018, at MoMI.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

PSIFF ’18: Veronica

Supposedly, this was the first reported case in Spain when a cop or government authority figure of any stripe admitted to witnessing paranormal phenomenon. Sure it was, just like the Amityville and Conjuring movies are based on true stories. In any event, Det. Romero is in for an eyeful when he responds to a fateful 9-1-1 call. However, before the audience takes in the crime scene, we will watch, in media res, how things got so bad for the title character in Paco Plaza’s Verónica (trailer here), which screens again during the 2018 Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Verónica (Vero) and her friends are about to try contacting the dead with a Ouija board, so that is pretty much all the explanation we need. To further raise the stakes, they are going to do it during an eclipse. Vero wants to speak to her somewhat recently deceased father, but something else crosses over instead. Of course, her fair-weather friends totally freak out, botching the ritual and thereby leaving the evil entity free to stalk Vero. Unfortunately, she is not the only one at risk. Her younger sisters Lucía and Irene, as well as their baby brother Antoñito are also very much in its crosshairs.

Frankly, Vero was already under a lot of stress. Her hardworking barkeep mother basically relies on her to look after her younger siblings. It is not really fair to her, but she accepts the situation out of love and a sense of responsibility. However, protecting them from this uncanny force will be a different proposition entirely.

Not to be confused with the Mexica identity-bending psychological thriller Veronica, Plaza’s Verónica recycles some well-worn horror tropes, but Plaza’s execution is tight and tense. The [REC] franchise co-helmer milks our general fear of the unseen and the specific innate Catholic dread of the demonic for deeply unsettling chills.

Sandra Escacena is a dead-ringer for Shailene Woodley, but she is probably a considerably better thesp. She is terrific working with the young supporting ensemble: Bruna González, Claudia Placer, and Iván Chavero. They really seem like a believably real and dysfunctionally grieving family. Consuelo Trujillo is also spooky as heck as the blind but all-seeing Sister Narcisa, a.k.a. “Sister Death,” while Chema Adeva adds plenty of genre-appropriate rumpled world-weariness in his wrap-around appearances as Romero.

Verónica follows an established arc, but Plaza and co-screenwriter Fernando Navarro come up with some creepy original details that deepen and intensify the atmosphere of mounting anxiety. Supernatural horror is always scarier in Spanish horror films, because the Devil remains a very real presence there—and is probably still ticked off about Franco. Recommended as some meat-and-potatoes for horror fans, Verónica screens again this Saturday (1/13), as part of this year’s PSIFF.

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First Look ’18: The Exiled

In France, Marcelo Novais Teles has famous friends. Here in America, they would be considered prestigious or well-connected. By far, the best known is Mathieu Amalric, the former Bond villain. They knew each other from way back, but Teles never really caught like his friends. Nevertheless, he has been on the French scene for years, as his home movies will attest in The Exiled, which screens during this year’s First Look at the Museum of the Moving Image.

Teles first came to France in 1982. He quickly decided to stay to learn French and pursue an acting career. Of course, there was also that military regime back in Brazil, but they left power in 1985, yet he still stayed in Paris. In fact, it seems like very little has changed for him since 1982.

In the assembled home movies, we see Teles and his circle of friends rehearse, run lines, host dinner parties, talk about failed love affairs, and just generally drink. Many of them had success, like Amalric and his wife Jeanne Balibar. Olivier Broche is best known in France for his television work, but that is still not bad for a former struggling artist. Isabelle Ungaro has more imdb credits as a casting director than an actress, but there are probably plenty of people in the French film industry who will be curious to watch her during her early professional years.

Unfortunately, Teles could very well be the least interesting of the bunch. He is also the saddest. A clear picture emerges of a man alienated from his family and homeland, who is still scuffling by, despite work that presumably comes his way through Amalric and Ungaro. Having long suspected he fathered his former Brazilian lover’s first daughter, he now satisfies his paternal instincts by being his friends always-available babysitter.

Fans of Amalric (who can be charmingly manic at post-screening Q&A’s) will be happy to see he remains true blue throughout. He also serves as the film’s producer. However, viewers’ interest in the film will be directly proportional to their familiarity with the other actors in his orbit. How curious are you to see Broche before he landed his signature role on the hybrid sitcom-sketch comedy show Les Deschiens? Frankly, this film can be a little dull and surprisingly depressing. Recommended only for Amalric fanatics, The Exiled screens this Saturday (1/13), as part of First Look 2018, at MoMI.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Inside: Remaking the New French Extremity

Logically enough, a group of Spanish filmmakers has remade a New French Extremity horror film for an English-speaking audience. Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo’s L’Interieur is considered a prime example of the sub-genre, but the new film files down some of the extreme edges. It also removes the Frenchness and it cannot be particularly new, since the original released in 2007. Regardless, a pregnant widow will still be stalked by a mystery woman in Miguel Ángel Vivas’s Inside (trailer here), which opens this Friday in select theaters.

Sarah Clark and her unborn baby survived the crash, but her husband did not.  This already puts her in a vulnerable state. When you factor in her malfunctioning hearing aid, she ought to be a sitting duck for the would-be fetal abductor. However, Clark comes to from the chloroform just in time to barricade herself in the bathroom. Of course, she cannot hole up in there indefinitely. Plus, she would like to stop the mystery woman from killing the various people who come to check up on her, including some of the dumbest cops ever.

Fans of the original will be distressed to know Clark is no longer a photographer and she only uses a camera as a blunt object. One of the nastier twists remains intact, but this time around, it is more of a face-palm moment. In contrast, other aspects are strategically less dark. Yet, perhaps most problematic is the sheer uselessness of the Chicago PD, who you would expect to come in SWAT-style, guns blazing. The idea that a woman who could pass for Clark’s mother could rack up such a body count is hard to buy.

Nevertheless, it is still hard to avoid getting caught up in such an insidiously manipulative woman-in-jeopardy premise. As Clark, Rachel Nichols is convincingly pregnant and freaked out. Laura Harring is no Béatrice Dalle, but she is still quite fierce playing the super-driven villainess. For what its worth, Ben Temple has some surprisingly poignant moments as Isaac, one of Clark’s kindly gay neighbors, who makes the most of a rather thankless supporting function.

Cinematographer Josu Inchaustegui gives Inside the ominous look of high-end Spanish horror, but it is hard to believe a betwixt-and-between remake like this was co-written by [Rec]-franchise genre auteur Jaume Balagueró. Even though the Blumhouse remake got away with softening the most soul-deadening aspects of Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs (a contention not everyone agrees with), it generally seems like a New French Extremity redo needs to either double-down on the extreme elements or totally reconceive them without the shock and gore. In the case of Inside, it is hard to see the point. Recommended for hardcore fans of Spanish horror (even when produced in English), Inside releases in theaters and on iTunes this Friday (1/12).

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The Pirates of Somalia: Go to Somalia, Write a Book

Evidently, Somalis are irked by the fact none of their countrymen play the Somali characters in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down. Of course, many Americans are still slightly disappointed that the bodies of U.S. military casualties were dragged through the streets after the Battle of Mogadishu, so maybe they should just call it even. Regardless, real Somalis are just misunderstood by the western media, because no reporter had the guts to embed there. That was Jay Bahadur’s contention. He sets out to prove it and to make his name as a foreign correspondent in Bryan Buckley’s The Pirates of Somalia (a.k.a. Dabka, trailer here), which releases today on DVD.

Canadian slacker Bahadur is a recent college graduate, who is bitterly disappointed to learn he might actually have to work for a living. He lives in his parents’ basement and obsesses over his ex-girlfriend, while remaining convinced he is God’s gift to journalism. However, the mentorship of crusty retired journalist Seymour Tolbin inspires him to formulate a plan so crazy it just might work: go to a country no western journalist is willing to report from and offer his services as a stringer. He should also make a big deal about writing a book. (Annoyingly, the film seems to have little idea how publishing really works. Trade houses do not hire stringers and news service are rarely involved in the publication of books, but we see general purpose media figure head Avril Benoît turn down the increasingly desperate Bahadur for both.)

Lo and behold, the Somali president and the largest news service are eager to have someone come tell their nation’s story, particularly with respect to the government’s attempt to crack down on the pirates. They provide him a fixer-translator, Abdi, and a security detail, but Bahadur’s clumsy naivete will make each interview more dangerous than it needed to be.

Not surprisingly, the Oscar nominated Barkhad Abdi appears as his fixer namesake. Frankly, he really is a very good actor, who is starting to break out of his typecast-mold. Nonetheless, a film like this is still his bread-and-butter—and he is indeed quite good pranking and then watching Bahadur’s back. On the other hand, it is hard to take Evan Peters seriously as our rookie reporter, especially considering how awkward he sounds when pronouncing the name Bahadur.

At least, Al Pacino is relatively amusing, swaggering about as Tolbin. However, the instantly recognizable voice of Melanie Griffith is totally distracting in the nothing-throwaway role of Bahadur’s mom. Yet, it should be readily stipulated the cast of Somali refugees is consistently impressive (and logically quite believable), especially Mohamed Barre as the relatively benign pirate Boyah, and Mohamed Osmail Ibrahim as the stone cold evil pirate Garaad.

Buckley’s adaptation of Bahadur’s book desperately wants us to believe the piracy problem would go away if we just showered foreign aid and good vibrations on Somalia, but that is hard to do when pirates like Garaad are attacking shipments of food aid. Yet, no matter how much we might sympathize with the Somali people, the obnoxiously whiny portrayal of Bahadur sabotages all the film’s earnest intentions. The large ensemble of non-professional actors raises the level of interest and authenticity, but the oh-so-self-aware narration induces nausea. Not recommended, Pirates of Somalia is now available on DVD. Check out A Hijacking instead.

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Monday, January 08, 2018

NYJFF ’18: The Red House (short)

Louis Sullivan famously wrote: “form follows function” and that was originally true of Łodzia House in Tel Aviv. It looks like an Old World factory plopped down in the outskirts of the city, because that is exactly what it was. Tamar Tal Anati chronicles its history and cultural significance in the short documentary, The Red House (trailer here), which screens during the 2018 New York Jewish Film Festival.

The building at 43 Nahmani Street was originally constructed as a hosiery factory in 1924 by a recently immigrated Zionist. Alas, stockings were not in such high demand during the pre-founding days of Israel. Eventually, they sold out and the business relocated, leaving the building vacant, until it was repurposed as a synagogue. Apparently, it was not a particularly comfortable synagogue, but the unruly neighborhood kids enjoyed playing on its tenement-style external staircases.

The buildings glory days logically came in the 1980s, back when everything was great. A handful of artists turned it into Tel Aviv’s first New York-style loft-scene gallery-complex, which immediately captured the attention of Israel’s media and glitterati, much to their surprise. The building’s last hurrah as an arts space before its long-overdue restoration came when the Batsheva Ensemble filmed their dance short Home Alone in its concrete halls. Just under two minutes, Home Alone showcases some inventive editing, as well as the company’s impressive dancers, so it really ought to screen along with Red House (you can find it here instead).

Tal Anati primarily uses Łodzia House as a way to measure the evolution of Tel Aviv and Israeli culture in general, sort of like the rings of a tree, but it also invites viewers to examine how we relate to space. The building was a not particularly reverent reflection of the industrial architecture of 1920s Eastern Europe, but it was perfectly suited to its 1980s function. Clearly, the Batsheva Ensemble’s video would have had a drastically different character and ambiance if it had been made anyplace else.

Thanks to Tal Anati and her interview subjects, we develop a rather thorough appreciation for the building, in an economical twenty minutes. Recommended for viewers interested in architecture and Israeli culture, The Red House screens with Praise the Lard this Thursday (1/11) and Sunday (1/14) at the Walter Reade, as part of this year’s NYJFF.

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NYJFF ’18: The Last Goldfish

Manfred Goldfish (born Goldfisch) preferred to identify as a “citizen of the world.” Having resided in Germany, Trinidad, and Australia, he qualified more than most. When he was forced to immigrate from both Germany and Trinidad, it was to escape escalating nationalistic ethnic violence, but for some reason (likely ideological), his daughter sees little of interest in the parallels. Instead, she focuses on finding the long-lost family members her father forced himself to forget, as a coping mechanism, in the highly personal documentary, The Last Goldfish (trailer here), which screens during this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival.

Her father never spoke of his previous life in Germany, most definitely including his first wife and their son and daughter. Su Goldfish (born Suzanne) only knew her father Manfred and her English-born mother, Phyllis, who is the problematically forgotten person in Last Goldfish, banished to the corner after the first ten minutes. The discovery of her half-siblings understandably gave rise to a host of emotions in Goldfish, but when her initial letter to her half-brother went unanswered, she somewhat bitterly back-burnered her interest for several years.

After misspending the rest of her youth on numerous leftist causes, Goldfish renewed her investigation into her ancestry. However, this time her interest would be reciprocated, especially by her half-sister. Unfortunately, she rekindled memories for her aging father at a time when he was increasingly weak and susceptible to feelings of guilt and inconsolable loss.

Manfred Goldfish’s story is indeed fascinating. Perhaps the film’s most remarkable revelation is the friendship shared by Goldfish’s father and the Jewish German athlete Gretel Bergmann, the subject of the film Berlin 36, whom the filmmaker interviewed as a spry and cogent centenarian before her death last year at 103. Unfortunately, Goldfish is constantly injecting her own thoughts, biases, and neuroses into the film. Frankly, you would expect a memory-film like this would duly analyze the emotional toll it must have taken when Trinidad’s “Black Power” street violence forced a survivor of Hitler’s Germany to once again immigrate for his family’s safety. Yet, Goldfish conspicuously opts not to go there.

There are some nice things that happen in the film, like the placement of stolperstein memorials for Golfish’s grandparents. However, the doc is hampered by its own blinders. This is maybe a case where a film is too personal and Goldfish’s subject, her family, might have been better served if she had taken on a more objective co-director. Far from essential, The Last Goldfish screens this Wednesday (1/10) and next Monday (1/15), at the Walter Reade, as part of the 2018 NYJFF.

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Sunday, January 07, 2018

NYJFF ’18: The Prince and the Dybbuk

Michał Waszyński is often called a mythomaniac, but every new life he created for himself came true. Imagine Frank Abagnale Jr from Catch Me If You Can, transplanted into La Dolce Vita. Yet, he was always haunted by the mystical tragedies of his homeland. In fact, they inspired the film he will always be remembered for, the Yiddish language Polish film adaptation of S. Ansky’s The Dybbuk. Even though the man himself converted to Catholicism, his story will still resonate with audiences when Elwira Niewiera & Piotr Rosolowski’s documentary The Prince and the Dybbuk (trailer here) screens during the 2018 New York Jewish Film Festival.

Waszyński was born the son of a poor Jewish blacksmith in Ukraine, but he died as an exiled Polish prince in Italy. It was kind of true too. Evidently, there was some kind of royal title bestowed on him. Of course, the wealthy Contessa he married was real enough, even though he was a closeted homosexual. The path he took to get from point A to point B was convoluted, but it involved stint in the Soviet backed Anders’ Army, as a propaganda filmmaker. Indeed, he was already well known in Poland, largely as a director of light comedy and melodrama, as well as his magnum opus, The Dybbuk.

Through impressionistic readings of his diary entries (shockingly frank, given the content and possible consequences), the film makes a convincing case Waszyński’s affinity for The Dybbuk was rooted in his own unrequited feelings for a classmate. He would never helm another work of the Dybbuk’s caliber again, but he took on producing duties on films throughout the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, notably including the massively over-budget The Fall of the Roman Empire and Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s The Barefoot Contessa.

Despite the artistically rendered expressionistic interludes, the best part about P&D are some of the conversations they captured, like when Mankiewicz’s wife Rosemary and daughter Alex revisit their memories of the Contessa shoot by nostalgically reading over passages of his diary: “you had dinner at the casino, that must have been lovely—Dad won a million Lira, good for him.” Two fellow Anders’ Army veterans reviewing his service records are also quite droll. Big surprise, Waszyński did not score well when it came to discipline and loyalty.

Frankly, we sort of wish P&D were a more traditional that-happened-and-led-to-this style documentary, because it feels like Niewiera & Rosolowski are glossing over a lot of wonderful high-living. Nevertheless, this is the film they have and it definitely leaves viewers fascinated. Even today, the extent of his social climbing reinvention is remarkable, especially for Old Europe. Highly recommended for fans of 1960s Hollywood/Cinecitta glamour and Freudian analysis, The Prince and the Dybbuk screens this Wednesday afternoon (1/10) and Thursday night (1/11) at the Walter Reade, as part of this year’s NYJFF.

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Saturday, January 06, 2018

Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds

If reincarnation were easy, everyone would be doing it. Frankly, there is no shame in laboring for a while in the afterlife. However, a stout-hearted fire-fighter who dies in the line of duty might be one of those rare paragons, who are allowed to be reborn in forty-nine days, provided they are acquitted of the sins represented by the seven domains of Hell. Three Guardians will guide him through the process and act as advocates on his behalf. They are highly motivated, because two more reincarnations will earn them their own terrestrial rebirth. Kim Ja-hong should be a slam dunk, but events on Earth will complicate his tribunals in Kim Yong-hwa’s Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (trailer here), which is now playing in expanded markets.

During the maelstrom of the final fire, Kim lost track of how many people he saved. That is the kind of guy he is—or rather was. Hewonmak and Deok-choon are the ones to break the bad news to him—but to them, he is good news. As a reputed paragon, his reincarnation trials should be a snap. However, when they meet up with their “Captain,” Gang-lim, they discover a vengeful ghost is darkening Kim’s karma. He is not being particularly helpful either, but it is all due to his deep concern for his long-suffering mother. Alas, she has more bad news coming, based on what Gang-lim sleuths out.

Evidently, Kim’s younger brother Su-hong died shortly after him, but his body has yet to be discovered, thanks to a cover-up. Su-hong’s ghost has a right to be angry, but his wrath might also expose secrets that could derail Ja-hong’s reincarnation.

Reportedly, AWTG: The Two Worlds and its forthcoming sequel, The Last 49 Days, are the first big budget Korean tent-poles filmed back-to-back, presumably to realize economies of scale. It hardly seems like there was a compelling continuity justification doing it that way, because Two Worlds probably has more closure than half the films we covered this week. However, there is a mid-credits teaser featuring completely new characters that might make sense to readers of the web-comic it is based on, but will completely baffle the rest of poor naïfs (although the fact that Ma Dong-seok will play a substantial part is definitely intriguing).

Basically, AWTG is like What Dreams May Come (the film, not the book), but with periodic interludes of high-flying martial arts. The problem is the Guardians are considerably more interesting than the paragon, but its probably better that way than vice versa, because there are three of them and only one of him. In fact, Gang-lim is the real hero of the film, not the whiny and passive Kim. As the Captain, Ha Jung-woo just radiates steely badassery. He totally walks the walk, even when he is flying around CGI-style in his billowing black cassock.

Kim Hyang-gi is cute and plucky as Assistant Guardian Deok-choon, but sensitively turns some surprisingly touching scenes. Ju Ji-hoon also plays it to the hilt as Hewonmak, the arrogant and maybe not so scrupulous Guardian. Unfortunately, Cha Tae-hyun’s Kim Ja-hong is just dull as sawdust. In recent films, character actor Oh Sal-su has reined in the shtick, but not so here as one of the two Devil’s Advocates.

Based on this film, we would assume Gang-lim and Deok-choon will be the focus of the sequel, which could work out okay, since they are the ones we would have chosen anyway. There is some impressive world-building in AWTG, but its weird flights of fantasy call out for competing analysis from strict Freudians and Jungians. Yet, you have to admire its conviction. Watching it might actually be good for your karma. Recommended for fans of sentimental after-life movies (Heaven Can Wait, without the clouds and harps), Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds continues in New York at the AMC Empire and it is now playing in the Denver-Metro Area at the AMC Arapaho Crossing.

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