Film Reviews

One Little, Two Little, 40 Little Indies

Page 2 of 5

Confessions of a Sexist Pig
United States, directed by Sandy Tung.
This one reminds me of the country and western musical Take This Show and Shove It, in that its title says it all. The movie would have us believe that it's breaking the news to us about how men think, the bastards. I suspect that by the movie's end, the Pig has learned a thing or two about how women think, as the actress he appears in a soap opera with, and whom he wants to add to his scorecard, is surely going to shake the Pig up. But by the time that did or did not happen, this viewer had tuned out.

Noted: Tung started out in physics, but used his scholarship money to make his first films. Brad Pitt appeared in one.

Canada, directed by, well, six directors (Not reviewed).
It appears that the six directors have gone for the mosaic effect here, weaving together their strands of story held together by the figure of Cosmos, a taxi-driver philosopher who helps his passengers navigate the "urban jungle."

Noted: Like I said, there are six directors.

Deja Vu
United States, directed by Henry Jaglom.
This one begins with a fair amount of promise. A young (mid-30s or so) American woman in Jerusalem on business has a mysterious encounter with a Holocaust survivor who doesn't believe said woman is really in love with the man she's about to marry. The old woman starts a strange chain of events in motion by allowing the younger woman to admire the beautiful pin the old woman was once given by the eventually elusive love of her life. Then she disappears. When the young woman tries to track her down to return the pin, really weird stuff starts to happen. She meets her honest-to-God soul mate, for one thing, and has to deal with that whole can of worms. This is interesting for maybe 45 minutes, then suddenly becomes nerve-wrackingly precious. Vanessa Redgrave is largely wasted in a role that isn't the one of the mysterious old woman.

Noted: It's a shame that a director as established, if sometimes irritating, as Jaglom can't find a distributor for a movie with Redgrave's name in the credits.

Every Dog Has Its Day
United States, directed by Marc Chiat.
This is one the staff at Worldfest seemed rather high on, but for me it was just one more story about an annoyingly sensitive young man whom the world simply refuses to understand -- even though he's an artist, and deserving of all kinds of understanding. I liked the part when the down-and-out young artist observes and comments on the work of a sign painter at a doughnut shop; liked it less when the sign painter became Sign Painter and started making pronouncements.

Noted: This is Chiat's first feature. He directed commercials for years, and is himself a working artist.

Five Wives, Three Secretaries & Me
United States, directed by Tessa Blake.
This one is of particular interest to us Houstonians. Blake is the daughter of filthy rich local oil man Tommy Blake, and this documentary is her attempt to come to grips with her father's looming presence in her life. The movie doesn't work, largely because her method is ill-chosen. We mostly get a series of interviews about her father, and scenes with the old man himself. But he's a bit on the inscrutable side, and the interviews aren't very illuminating, because we don't really know the character -- the old man -- that everyone is talking about. We don't have enough context for the stories, so they can't resonate. Blake herself is quite appealing, however, and the scenes that include her are the film's best. I might be willing to read her memoir of growing up Tommy Blake's daughter, of being a debutante who went on to work in avant-garde theater.

Noted: Blake (Tessa, natch) worked with Keith Curran on his award-winning play The Stand-In, which is now being developed for the screen.

Grey Areas
United States, directed by Jason Sklaver (Not reviewed).
This one at least sounds intriguing. It tells the story of a young artist who can't bring himself to marry his fiancee until he's finally settled accounts with the "soul mate" he loved and lost years before. So he looks her up, to try to tidy up their unfinished business, but the young artist is stuck, come closure time. Haunted by thoughts of Willem de Kooning, he has to struggle on.

Noted: This is Sklaver's first feature. His short Ten Musicians was an homage to his grandfather, a big-band musician.

Heart's Lonely Hunters
United States, directed by Daniel Kuttner.
This one felt like it would be irritating. In it, a German journalist arrives in Charlottesville, Virginia, to "write about Thomas Jefferson." Just what kinds of magazines do they have in Germany, anyway, that send out reporters on such earnest assignments? Once in C-ville, the German has trouble getting to work because he wants to write about "a story dear to his heart" instead. (Yikes -- really bad things can happen to a guy once he starts writing about stories dear to his heart.) But Hans-Jsrg Assmann (cool!) is a very sympathetic, vaguely Liam Neeson-ish presence, and his potentially aggravating wanderings and questings feel surprisingly touching and inviting.

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David Theis
Contact: David Theis