“Movies about making movies are usually concerned with the frantic desperation of a shoot, with crises popping up by the minute and everyone rushing about madly. Not so in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film, allegedly about his experiences making Whity on-location in Spain. The first quarter of the film is taken up with a long scene in a hotel lobby which might have been directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. The lassitude and sense of sexual longing is almost suffocating, as members of the film within a film’s cast and crew down drinks, break glasses, nuzzle on couches, or stare blankly into space. With the arrival of more money to continue the production and of the film’s director (Lou Castel playing a handsome version of Fassbinder) and the film’s star (Eddie Constantine more or less playing himself — there is even a reference to his Lemmy Caution character), the energy level picks up — especially when the director begins throwing hourly tantrums. And Fassbinder’s narrative becomes more fragmented, featuring short snippets of conversations among the various characters, most of them complaining about someone else on the crew screwing things up. In one long and very funny scene, the director carefully reads a newspaper containing an article about him while a half-dozen other characters around him drift away. There is some witty use of music, too; three Leonard Cohen songs from his first album drone on during the long opening scene in the lobby, and later, a party scene plays out to Ray Charles’ “Let’s Go Get Stoned.” This is all likely to be more amusing to those in the know about Fassbinder and his methods; less informed viewers are likely to see it as so much navel-gazing.” Continue reading
Plot Synopsis - by Hal Erickson
In Slither, James Caan plays Dick Kanipsia, a recently paroled car thief whose plans to go straight are interrupted when his best pal Harry Moss (Richard B. Schull) is shot and killed. As he lies dying, Moss advises Kanipsia to seek out fellow crook Barry Fenaka (Peter Boyle), who knows where a huge amount of money stolen by Moss is hidden. Aware that he himself is a marked man, Kanipsia has to play it cool en route to Fenaka. This proves difficult when his erstwhile travelling companion, dopehead Kitty Kopetzky Sally Kellerman, robs a roadside diner in his presence. Since nothing is ever quite what it appears to be in Slither, perhaps we shouldn’t tell you any more. This truly serpentine tale served as the feature-film directorial debut of Howard Zieff, the former TV-commercial helmsman responsible for the famous Spicy Meatball ad.
Description: The uncompromising director Věra Chytilová, well-known for her harshly mocking attacks on people’s failings and foibles, has created a new filmic parable on human weakness with Vyhnání z ráje (Expulsion from Paradise, 2001), her most recent film. Although fully within the Chytilová tradition of biting moral fable, the film has had a lukewarm reception from Czech and international critics.
The main story of Vyhnání z ráje concerns Rosta, a film director (Bolek Polívka), who is shooting a film at a nudist beach. Everyone in the film crew has different ideas about the genre and style of the film being shot: The director tries to create an artistic work, an experimental metaphor about Adam and Eve; the Russian producer Igor (Milan Šteindler) hopes to see an erotic lovestory produced; and the screenwriter (played by theatre director and dramatist J A Pitínský) aims to express his positive philosophy about humanity through the film. Continue reading
Dennis Christopher stars as a recent high school graduate in Bloomington, Indiana, who is caught with his friends — Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley — coasting between high school and deciding what to do with the rest of their lives. The four friends are snobbishly looked down upon by the college students of the town as “cutters,” since they were born in Bloomington and their parents worked in the local limestone quarries that built the university. Dennis Christopher’s character Dave wants to be a champion bicycle racer and he idolizes the Italian racing team — so much so that he speaks, thinks, and acts Italian, all to his father’s (Paul Dooley) forlorn exasperation. Dave falls for a college girl (Robyn Douglass), but is ashamed to admit he is a cutter and poses as an Italian exchange student to impress her. Dave is particularly excited when his heroes — the Italian racers — come to town for a race. But they are even more snobbish than the college students and rely on dirty tricks to keep Dave from winning a race against them. After that ordeal, Dave throws away his false identity and convinces his friends to enter the university’s “Little 500″ bicycle race against the college students. This light-hearted and heartwarming tale was a surprising word-of-mouth success at the box-office and won several awards, including an Academy Award for “Best Screenplay.”
Sgt. Jinji is very interested in Yaeli, Mr. Hasson’s youngest daughter. After getting into a dispute with a fuming Mr. Hasson who falsely believed Jinji wanted to marry his eldest daughter, Jinji is kicked out of Mr. Hasson’s house. Having witnessed the scene, and unbeknownst to Mr. Hasson nor Jinji, Yaeli escapes too and hides in the back of Jinji’s jeep, intent to join him despite her father’s wishes.
On the way to his army base, Jinji picks up Konstanza, a shady businessman, who has been evading reporting to reserve duty for a while. Konstanza also happens to owe money to Mr. Hasson (due to a very dubious business deal gone awry), and Mr. Hasson decides to look for Konstanza to get his money back. All our characters end up in the middle of the desert at a small, somewhat improvised military base.
One of the few 1960s satires of the hippie culture that doesn’t appear to be concocted by grumpy old men, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas stars Peter Sellers as Harold Fine, a staid Jewish attorney. Engaged to the equally straitlaced Joyce (Joyce Van Patten), Harold wistfully dreams of having a more exciting lifestyle. Through a fluke, Harold is obliged to drive a station wagon emblazoned with “psychedelic” imagery; it is with this vehicle that he picks up his flower-child brother Herbie (David Arkin), and Herbie’s groovy chick Nancy (Leigh Taylor-Young). Rather enjoying the company of people outside of his establishment orbit, Harold lets Nancy stay over at her place, and she plies him with marijuana-spiked brownies. His inhibitions released by the spiked pastries, Harold kicks over the traces, grows his hair to shoulder length, and embarks upon an affair with Nancy. But when the effects of the brownies wear off, Harold suddenly feels like the rather foolish middle-aged man that he is. The beauty of I Love You, Alice B. Toklas is that it patronizes neither the hippies nor the Establishment characters; both groups are shown as human beings rather than agit-prop stereotypes.
Davey Haggart (John Hurt) wishes to follow his father’s footsteps and become a highway robber. He also wishes to avoid his father’s fate — which was death by hanging at the tender age of 21 after a botched robbery of the Duke of Argyle (Robert Morley). Davey commits a daring robbery in broad daylight with the help of two henchmen (Ronald Fraser and Fidelma Murphy) and heads for the highlands of Scotland to hide out. The local Constable (Nigel Davenport) warns young Davey he will end up just like his father but helps him escape the fate of dancing on the end of a rope. Annie (Pamela Franklin) is the kind-hearted farm girl who tries to make sweet Davey give up a life of crime and settle down. This comedy was taken from the autobiographical diary”The Life Of David Haggart.” Continue reading