Sunday, January 1 1995
Hey, it doesn't hurt that Johnny Depp makes a leisure suit look good.
Though shot on a shoestring budget by first-time feature filmmakers, the movie encapsulates all that has come to typify the Coen brothers' style: engaging narrative, inventive direction, and the juxtaposition of grim violence with moments of sublime, sometimes surreal, human behavior.
The film's most effective balancing act comes in the form of Foxx's terrific performance: throughout, he's quirky, subtle, and thankfully able to keep up with the movie's lurching tone-and-genre shifts, from comedy to action to almost-arty to melodrama.
Cody's special in a very particular way -- in a second-coming kind of way -- which, in movie-logic, makes her the prime target for a slew of Satan's minions.
'I'm a kid in America, I can do whatever I want.' Jutting her chin at the camera, New York City high schooler Charlie (Bijou Phillips) mouths off to her stuffy-suit dad, who's been pestering her about where she goes after school.
'There are some naysayers,' one Blair Witch fanatic enthuses, 'who come and they say nay.' Not the sharpest wooden stake in the breastbone, this guy.
The cultural systems that condone more subtle forms of homophobia are left unexamined. This allows viewers to forget the important fact that homophobia and strict either-or gendering practices do prevail in today's 'civilized' cultures, liberal and tolerant as they may seem to those who don't have to worry about such things.
Robots: we either love 'em or hate 'em. Movies have given us friendly Star Wars droids like R2-D2 and C-3PO and sadistic mechanical henchmen like Maximilian in The Black Hole. Science fiction television has shown both Buck Rogers' loyal sidekick Twiggy and the destructive Cylons of Battlestar Galactica.
Beowulf saves the girl and carries her to the stronghold, where she immediately breaks away again and allows herself to be killed. Evidently there's 'something' inside the castle worse than death -- the rest of the movie.
Behind a triumphant tale of self-discovery is a subtext of anxiety that ultimately enhances what might have been a pretty ordinary film.
Though behaving like proper girls and boys has little effect on Megan and the other patients, they still pretend that they are actually heading down the path to heterosexuality.
Interestingly, in one of 'A.I.''s inconsistencies, we are shown a society obsessive about controlling consumption and the conservation of resources, which nevertheless is still steadfastly consumer-driven: the answer to all our problems can be found in the perfect product, in this case a robotic child.
Just prior to All About My Mother's closing credit sequence, there is an effusive dedication - To all actresses who have played actresses, to all women who act, to men who act and become women, to all the people who want to be mothers...to my mother.
If 'All Over the Guy' is any indication of what Hollywood has in store for gay relationships, it looks like gay men and lesbians will be receiving the same shallow treatment as their heterosexual counterparts.
'Apocalypse Now' -- 'Redux' or regular -- is well worth seeing for just such insights, its flashes of brilliance, failures, and virtuous intentions. In both versions, it's that rare movie that looks hard at the culture that produced it.
And yet, for a rock 'n' roll film set in the '70s, Almost Famous has surprisingly little sex and drugs on screen (though both are much discussed). Even when two or three of the 'band-aids' decide to deflower William, mainly to alleviate their boredom, it comes off more like a slumber party game than an act of real sexuality.