Beyond Dreck

John Boorman's new film has some, uh, interesting color tones

If Boorman's aim was to make a socially relevant film, to tell the world about Burma's troubles, then why all the bother with the doctor and her sugary guru? Why not just a biography of San Suu Kyi?

He might have begun, not with a depressed American on a package tour, but with San Suu Kyi's early days, showing the future revolutionary being dandled in her daddy's knee -- her daddy was U Aung San, a key figure in the Burmese independence movement, who surely had a few instructive tales for his little daughter. San Suu Kyi's formative and early years, her schooling and young womanhood in the West, could make a stylish and compelling story. As an end tag explains, San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest in 1989, yet while separated from her husband and sons she continued to write and continued to speak for democracy. If Boorman wanted to make an action movie with a female star, why drag in a pretty American actress for a pretty American role? Because he's cheap and shallow, I think.

Beyond Rangoon has a wonderful premise -- to introduce Burma through the experiences of a lost traveler -- and some stunning cinematography. As with a real trip along a river delta, the scenery is beautiful, even as you slog through muck.

Beyond Rangoon.
Directed by John Boorman. With Patricia Arquette, U Aung Ko and Spalding Gray.

Rated R.
99 minutes.

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