The MichaelVox Movie Review Weblog
Proudly Spewing Unsolicited Film Opinion Online Since 1996



MONSOON WEDDING
2001


March 27, 2002
Camera One
India/USA/France/Italy
English/Hindi/Punjabi

Absolutely delightful story of a wedding in Delhi and how a family gets along when they all come together. There were musical interludes and a great mixture of Hindi and English. It took me a while to realize that the characters were speaking English when the subtitles stopped. There were concerned fathers, nurturing mothers, scandalous uncles, and hot young people all dressed up for the big show. A cute subplot involving less well-to-do Indians was very touching. Better than I expected. When the cast would sing, it didn't really take away from the story. Not a musical, exactly, just a happy experience. Impossible not to like.


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THE EXECUTION OF WANDA JEAN
2002


March 23, 2002
HBO
USA
English

The West Coast premiere of this documentary was at Cinequest, but I knew it'd be on HBO so I waited. People who went to the Cinequest screenings were really touched. Apparently the director and I think one of the lawyers showed up to talk about the film. What I saw was interesting, never boring, but left me sort of cold. They are preaching to the choir with me as I am against the death penalty in all cases so I didn't have to be talked into that position. Wanda Jean Allen was an Oklahoma lesbian with borderline mental retardation. She killed someone in the early 80s, was paroled, lived with her lover, then shot her in the police station parking lot when the lover threatened to leave her. The legal team was trying to switch her sentence from execution to life without parole. She would become the first woman executed in Oklahoma since the death penalty was reinstated.

The evidence against her is airtight. Her only hope is to show her impaired mental abilities at the time of the crime. She is presented as a woman who never had a chance. Gay in the bible belt, one of 8 kids, abused as a youngster, sent out to steal for food, etc. The heartbreak in this story for me was the optimism of the legal team. They know they have nearly no chance to change the sentence and yet they have to put their best face forward for the media, the family, and Wanda Jean herself. Wanda Jean is quite a character, making sure, on the very morning of her execution, if her best friend and lawyer had a balanced breakfast.

I'm not sure what all the fuss is about in this documentary. It is not substantially better than a Frontline episode or Dead Man Walking, for example.


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AMERICAN PSYCHO
2000


March 23, 2002
Cinemax
USA/Canada
English

Christian Bale. Willem Dafoe. Jared Leto. Samantha Mathis. Chloe Sevigny. Reese Witherspoon.

I have a bittersweet relationship with the book on which this film is based. Iíve been reading it for three years now. I love certain passages, but then the brutality rears its head and I put it down for months at a time.

This film is nowhere near as brutal as the book. In fact, I canít figure out what all the fuss was about when it was released. If I remember correctly only Lionís Gate would come forward to distribute it.

Bale as the 80s voice and demeanor down and whatever trainer he used to get in shape for this should get a raise, immediately. The story is about a finance guy in his 20s with terrible taste in culture, but fantastic taste in clothing, who also happens to be a murderer. He finds new and interesting ways to kill his victims, who are usually women. A nail gun, a chain saw, pliers, wire hangers, a shiny axe.

We donít see these murders, only the after-effects, so the film is not a stomach-churning as it might have been had they filmed the portions of the book that I canít seem to get out of my head. Itís Baleís movie and he does a good job. It is hard to believe that heís the same kid from EMPIRE OF THE SUN.

5.6 Critical Consensus


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THE MEDICINE SHOW
2001


March 17, 2002
Camera Cinema Club
USA
English

Jonathan Silverman (The Single Guy). Natasha Gregson Wagner (Natalie Woodís daughter). Greg Grunberg (the inventor on Felicity). Kari Wuhrer (hottie).

Silverman and Grunberg work as animators in an L.A. studio. During a checkup, Silverman is diagnosed with bowel cancer (Ďthe sexy cancerí). He makes his surgery and recovery into a comedic playground as he watches the reactions around him.

First of all, I am a big fan of Silverman. And not because of WEEKEND AT BERNIEíS, a film I havenít seen. He seems like a regular guy who is regularly funny in regular conversation. Thatís it. He is believable as a guy who is overwhelmed by his bad fortune to the point of welcoming it and doing the least expected thing like asking for Ďthe largest scar possibleí.

Wagner is a cutie and plays a patient with a much more serious form of cancer. Grunberg is the best friend sidekick who helpfully brings in porn for his buddy Ďfor when they take the catheter outí. Wuhrerís job is to look hot and unapproachable, and then offer oral to the unsuspecting. She disappears after about 15 minutes.

Anyone who has ever had any hospital procedure, or has been there holding the hand of someone who has will see scene after scene in this film that will take you right back. The humor is black, but the laughs real.


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THE STRAIGHT STORY
1999


March 16, 2002
DVD
France/UK/USA
English

Richard Farnsworth. Sissy Spacek. Directed by David Lynch.

Absolutely delightful (and delightfully slow) story of an old man, without a drivers license, who must travel by riding mower to visit his estranged ailing brother 400 miles away.

Spacek plays the mentally challenged daughter, but it is Farnsworthís film through and through. He travels down country highways, pulling a huge trailer behind his old John Deere. He camps at night and meets people in the small towns between Iowa and Wisconsin.

His body has a lot of miles on it, but his mind is still sharp and strangers are instantly trusting of him when he appears in their town. The pace is slow, the scenery magical. Iím glad I finally got a chance to see this one.

9.1 Critical Consensus


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GLADIATOR DAYS: ANATOMY OF A PRISON MURDER
2002


March 15, 2002
HBO
USA
English

Documentary about how murders are committed behind bars by inmates, many of whom are in rival race-related gangs.

I am a jaded filmgoer. I'll admit it right now. I have seen more murders, rapes, swearing, bloodshed, dismemberments and the like than any sane person should. It still surprises me when movie companions jump or wince or say Ďoh my godí when they see brutality played out on the screen. I chuckle to myself when filmmakers are touted as 'brave' because they showed violence or frank sexuality in a film. I guess it takes a lot to make me turn my head. I was okay in AMERICAN PSYCHO and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and all the autopsy shows on HBO.

This film made me turn my head. This film showed me an image that right now, nearly two weeks later, I still canít shake out of my mind. Iíll let you know when I describe it so that you can skip it if you want.

The story is about a white guy who is intelligent and well-spoken and was put in prison for killing a guy in the Nevada desert. A girl he knew from the neighborhood asked him for help in keeping a creepy guy away. Instead of scaring him, our protagonist took him out to a desolate area and shot him, leaving the body behind. In a RIVERíS EDGE type move, they all began taking friends out to see the body until the police found out. The girl was put in prison as was the guy and his accomplice. Once in prison, he decided that heíd fight back at every opportunity to avoid the daily rapes he saw going on around him.

Every time I hear about life in prison, I realize that my suburban white ass wouldnít last two seconds. Iíd find a way to kill myself before I got there. But thatís beside the point here. The guy fought back and earned the respect of the Aryan Nation, which is thought to be the largest U.S. prison gang.

This particular murder was over something that I canít even remember, it was so insignificant. The filmmakers have videotape of the actual murder taking place in the cellblock. We listen as the guards nonchalantly ask for medical help and even though there is one guy with one weapon (a knife), they wait a full ten minutes before storming the block with several dozen swat guys. The victim was still alive the whole time they were waiting for backup. One guy held down the man (who was black) and the other stabbed him more than sixty times. We hear interviews with the families of both the victim and the killer. We hear from the district attorney who is trying to get the death penalty for the killer. We listen to the guards refer to the inmates as scarcely human.

This was interesting, but its not like we thought that prison life was easy, did we?

STOP READING NOW IF YOUíRE SQUEAMISH.

Now the nitty gritty about the scene. Itís weird to watch a guy die on film. What we have here is a snuff film, plain and simple. Weíve seen them on other documentaries, thatís no big deal. I started watching the videotaped scene while counting the stabs. It appeared that the guy was holding a small knife, perhaps two inches in length. The camera is far enough away so that you donít really see too much blood and because heís being held down, the victim isnít twitching much. He is stabbed mostly on his back and shoulders as the victim rolls up into a ball to avoid the knife. Remember, the action is pretty far from the camera. Then the killer begins walking away, but notices that the guy is still moving. The killer is yelling, as is a guy behind bars who is watching, but the victim is eerily quiet, even at the beginning of the attack. Hereís the thing that keeps me up at night. When the killer goes back to continue stabbing, he aims for the guyís skull. He has to use more force to Ďbreakí through and we can see that the target isnít as easy as the back was. At one point he pulls out the knife to stab again, but the guyís head moves with the knife, as if its stuck in his skull and the killer has to yank it out, sort of like when you get a pick axe stuck in concrete or an axe stuck in a block of wood. The victimís head moved off the floor as the guy was pulling the knife out of his skull. It was like nothing Iíd ever seen before and I was shocked at being shocked. I tried to watch it again in slow motion, which usually makes the impression a little weaker, but it was the same. The guy got his knife stuck inside the skull of the other guy. I hope I can forget I saw it.


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SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS
1999


March 10, 2002
DVD
USA
English/German/Japanese

Ethan Hawke. Sam Shepard. Max Von Sydow. Painfully slow story of a dead fisherman on a Puget Sound island and the Japanese-American man who is accused of the crime. Hawke had a fling with a Japanese girl when he was younger and now she is married to the accused. There are flashbacks to WWII and childhood memories kissing in a cedar tree. But Hawke is sleepwalking through his role and I'm just trying not to fall asleep. Nice to look at but you'll be happy when its over.


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MONICA IN BLACK AND WHITE
2002


March 5, 2002
HBO
English

You will probably finish watching this with the same opinion you had before it started about who Monica Lewinsky is. Before I saw this I thought she was a misunderstood girl who thought that flirting with a married man was exciting and the fact that he was the POTUS only made the whole thing more exciting. She falls in love easily, big deal. After watching it I liked her even more. The crowd is mostly on her side, she breaks down several times, one guy asks her what its like to be the pre-eminent blow job specialist in the country. One powerful portion has a former student of the teacher that Monica slept with back in L.A. say that she too was abused by this teacher. The teacher is seen on file footage all but laughing at Monica for getting into trouble again. The timeline that the filmmakers use make the whole thing easy to follow and the tapes of Monica and Linda Tripp are hard to listen to. I liked it a lot.


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BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY
2001


March 5, 2002
DVD
France/UK
English

More of a waste of time then I thought it would be. Renee Zellweger. Hugh Grant. Colin Firth. Renee is good as a 30something English Admin who dreams of romance as she writes in her diary. She falls for Grant who is superb as an asshole instead of his usual frumpy shy guy. One of those films where if one fact had not been understood, the whole angst portion could have been left behind. I wanted to like it, but just couldn't.


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DESIGN
2002


March 3, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
West Coast Premiere
USA
English

This was a good way for me to end the festival. My 25th film has stayed with me. The story is about intersecting characters, most of whom are down on their luck. The style is fantastic and the over-riding theme, is that there is some grand design to the universe. Or at least, that's what I got out of it. I wish I could have seen it again to more fully absorb it.


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HALFWAY THERE
2000


March 2, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
English


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RACE CONDITION
2002


March 2, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
English


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HOW DO YOU FEEL?
2002


March 2, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
English


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TIMMY'S WISH
2002


March 2, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
English

Part of the short series "Mindbenders". Absolutely hilarious (like the funniest thing I've seen in years) story of the son of god, granting little Timmy his wish. His wish, before he goes to bed is "Dear Lord, please kill my parents". He's mad at them for not letting him stay up and watch TV. From his bedroom he hears hideous screams and when he slowly ventures out, he sees the bloody dismembered remains of his parents and standing there, bloody, but happy, in a white robe with a halo around his head, is Jesus of Nazareth.

The audience wasn't sure what to do here. Do we laugh because Jesus just killed the family or are we supposed to keep it inside because normally we don't see Jesus killing people. Luckily, this pause lasted a split-second at most. I could not stop laughing and the audience was roaring once it was okay to let it out.

Jesus is bearded and nice, only doing what the kid had prayed for. The kid is shocked at first, but under the loving gaze of Jesus, he sets out to help the son of god pack his parents into trash bags. The song "I'm Into Something Good" is played while Jesus and Timmy saw his parents into small pieces for disposal. There are smiles and jokes and Jesus does some of his magic to impress the kid. I'm laughing now just thinking about it. Jesus asks if Timmy wants to get ice cream. Timmy says yes and takes off his bloody shirt for the laundry. Jesus sees a star of David around his neck and looks up saying "nice one, Noah". Then he scolds the kid "get your own deity" and disappears.

Incredibly brave to even film such scenes, and so funny and so refreshingly balls-out that it was impossible to dislike.


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BREEDING SPACE
2002


March 2, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
English

A short film about a guy who breeds snails until they take over his room and then his house. Old film soundtracks are used as the snails seem to act out 40's movie dialogue. Funny and slimy with great use of Beethoven's 9th Symphony.


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GROWNUPS
2001


World Premiere
March 2, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
USA
English

Probably the most 'Hollywood' of the films I saw at Cinequest this year. John Stamos is the big name in this story of two life-long New Jersey friends who get married and end up living in the very neighborhood they grew up in. Fearing the end of the passionate part of their lives as children begin to enter the picture, they devise a plan to swap wives for one night only. The women are against it, but with the level-headed explanations, as well as flow charts that Stamos prepares, they opt in as well.

It was much better than it could have been. The humor was on the surface, but below was the fact that these type of things always sound better on paper than in practice. Even someone as good-looking as Stamos isn't sure if his wife actually had a better time with his friend than he does with him. The act causes far-reaching effects which I'm glad they showed.

The crowd was biased in favor as much of the crew was on hand to watch. It was enjoyable, but not ground shaking.

An Update:
On Friday May 3, 2002 I received the following e-mail with the subject heading "film review LIES".

"From Mitch Galane

i don't know if michael vox is the webmaster or not, and if he is not, please make sure he gets this e-mail--

michael,

my name is mitch galane. i'm the writer/co-producer of GROWNUPS, which you reviewed at CINEQUEST. i was SHOCKED to read in your review the following line--

'The crowd was biased in favor as much of the crew was on hand to watch.'

now, i must say, i was a little confused by that line, because it was...how do i say it...oh yeah, i know how...A FUCKING LIE.

on our first screening on friday, we had in attendance, let me remember... - my 2 parents, my sister, a childhood friend (who did not work on the film), doug (the director) and i...oh, and about 200 strangers.

on staurday, we had my parents, sister, friend, maybe 7 people who came from college of marin (where i spoke at that week since i went there for 3 years in the late '80's) plus ONE actress and her entourage of 3...plus 250 strangers.

when we were called to screen a third time that sunday because the AUDIENCE FULL OF STRANGERS LOVED OUR FILM, we had noone we knew there--

and at the end of the day, we WON THE AUDIENCE AWARD, BASED ON PEOPLE WE DO DO NOT NOT KNOW liking the movie.

we do not think we re-invented film as we know it. we just set out to make a light entertaining little romantic comedy.

so why is it being written that we stacked the audience. why would you boldface lie? our crew (ALMOST ALL OF WHICH WHO LIVE IN NEW JERSEY AND HAVE NEVER NEVER EVEN BEEN IN CALIFORNIA) would love to know they were out here, especially since they aparently have now seen the film, even though if you ask them, they might be a little confused.

i'm asking a simple question - why are you lying? i'm not threatening you with a slander/libel lawsuit (though i must admit, my lawyer sister who i admit was there and knows who was or was not there at the screenings, says provable libel is an easy win) but i would like to know where you came up with this lie, why you printed it, and what you're ready to do about it. doug finelli has spent 3 years trying to make the best movie he could under the worst of conditions, and for three straight days in san jose in march, audiences dug it, and you say it's because of a non-existant crew being in the audience. are you gonna take the responsibility now in a retraction that you couldn't be bothered with in your original review? i may sound like a dick, but you're the one who wrote the lie.

so do the right thing man. we earned the audience laughter and we earned the audience award. but occarding to your review, based on the lie, we didn't. you know that's not the truth.

mitch galane"

[This entire quote is sic]

Let me start out by saying that I have no way of knowing if this is actually from Mitch Galane who is the writer of GROWNUPS. But the person who wrote this, did so with the venom that only a writer could muster over such an insignificant review.

Let me respond:

MichaelVox is me. I am the only one here. I see films, I put up notes about them. During a film festival, such as Cinequest San Jose, I see four or five films a day. Its all I can do to remember which one is which. I still remember GROWNUPS as an enjoyable and funny film. It wasn't the best thing I saw, and it wasn't even close to the worst. I stand by every word I said above, including the part about 'much of the crew' being on hand.

I was at the Saturday evening screening. I sat in my customary seat in the way way back on a folding chair. I probably sat right next to Galane and Finelli who I think I remember also being in the back against the wall. The place was so full that had the fire marshall been there, he would have shut the place down. People were sitting in the aisles and a few were standing. There was a buzz and excitement. Part of this excitement included pockets of people who either were directly, indirectly, or at least felt like they were part of the production. I include the actress's entourage, the relatives, and any of the people from the College of Marin. By using the word "crew" I meant to say "people who felt connected to the filmmakers or the production". I didn't mean literally the film crew who worked on the movie. For that I apologize for any misunderstanding. The phrase "biased in favor" just means that a large portion of the audience was really ready to enjoy the film before they saw it. And they did enjoy it. They wanted it to succeed. This happens whenever filmmakers are in attendance. You should thank your lucky stars that you've never had to sit directly behind one of the Coppolas and watch a nearly unwatchable film unspool without being able to leave because of a twisted sense of manners. I have done this. When filmmakers are sitting near you, you laugh louder and more often than you would alone with the DVD. Its just human nature.

And no where did I say that this film won the audience award because the ballot box was stuffed or because of some other misrepresentation. At the screening I attended, the crowd laughed loudly and often. You should be extremely proud that they picked GROWNUPS as the Audience Award Winner. Judging from the response, you deserved it. I personally would have picked something else, but my tastes are rarely the same as the majority.

Let me also say that I have never written or produced or directed or starred in any film. I realize the amount of work that goes into making a movie, and I'm pretty sure I'd give up before finishing. You should be proud that you made a film, that was so professional looking, with a good cast.

As for any "provable libel" in my once sentence review, let's be serious.

I'm sorry that you felt that my comments were such a personal affront. Thank you for contacting me. If you have any further comments, I'd like to hear them.

Sincerely,

Michael Cummins.




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YANK TANKS
2002


World Premiere
March 2, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
USA
English/Spanish

Documentary about the hundreds of 50s and 60s American cars that remain in Cuba since the embargo. Mechanics are interviewed, car fanatics are shown, music is played, and the editor edits in a lightning-quick fashion. I must admit, I'm not a car guy, but I was never bored, except when a political topic grew too lengthy. If you are a fan of the old cars with fins and white-walls, you must see this one.


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RUNNING TIME
2002


March 2, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
USA
English

A one-joke short that I figured out within seconds. Well-done, with no dialogue to speak of.


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COME TOGETHER
2001


West Coast Premiere
March 2, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
Canada/USA
English

Guy in his 20s travels to his ex-girlfriend's wedding, hoping that he can close that chapter in his life once and for all. As with most men, he harbors feelings that there might be one more chance with her, even as she prepares to marry another man. While staying at his buddy's house, a teenage girl comes over and becomes friends with him. She helps him shop and offers advice. She's one of those movie-type teenagers who is wise beyond her years and so cute that you think there might be a chance between these two.

The teen sees the guy wallowing in his continuing feelings for his ex and she tries to lead him in another direction. The direction is a relationship with her. There is an 'only in the movies' seduction scene where a roaring fire provides the backdrop for the girl to entice the man who, of course, doesn't act on it. We get the inevitable scene of the girl crying at first because she was denied, but then because she never really wanted to and because he said no, he's now even more attractive.

The acting is fine and all three leads are attractive. There is a very well done scene in the kitchen of a hotel during the wedding reception where a hug between bride and ex turns into a kiss that is soft and tender and definitively ends their relationship for good.

A late scene at the girl's dance is exciting and sweet, though what sort of future this new couple has is up for debate.


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THE MISANTHROPE
2002


World Premiere
March 2, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
USA
English

Story of struggling New York City actor, who is presently teaching in an elementary school. He auditions for the play THE MISANTHROPE, but is denied a part. He is talked into directing the school play and he picks THE MISANTHROPE for his young students to perform. This very adult play is way above their understanding, but he won't be deterred.

The film is funny and brutal with occasional flashes of naturalness, such as a walk through a dreary Manhattan after a few drinks with a lady. It seemed almost made up on the spot.

Overall though, not the greatest.


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TRIBUTE
2001


Northern California Premiere
March 1, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
USA
English

Funny documentary about tribute bands and the fans that love them. Kiss. Queen. The Monkees. What kind of person loves a band so much that they would follow around a band that pretends to be the beloved band?

The famous story of the new Judas Priest singer is mentioned as some sort of impossible dream that all the interviewees aspire to. We drive with Queen self-described "superfan" to the houses of the surviving members of Queen in Los Angeles. Its funny to see the egos of the fake band members echo their real counterparts. Apparently, one gets an instant big head by playing bass in either Kiss or a Tribute to Kiss.

Those people who know me know that I am a huge fan of U2. I've seen them 30 times and have spent thousands of dollars on them. I have friends who have collections that a single room can't contain. When I saw this guy "superfan" and his Queen collection, I had to laugh as he really didn't seem to have accummulated many Queen items. If this guy's a Queen superfan, then my U2 friends should be institutionalized. Although I love the band, I have never seen a U2 tribute band perform and have no desire to. We'll see if I feel the same way when they break up or stop touring.

There was great sing-along music by the above-mentioned bands as well as Journey.


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CRANK CALLS
2002


March 1, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
USA
English


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CAVALCADES
(GET A WAY)
2002


World Premiere
March 1, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
France
French

In Paris, a young gay man, nearly runs over a bicycle ridden by a beautiful young woman. At first they argue, like brother and sister, and then they laugh about it. He promises to fix her bike and they set off together in the guyís van. They both have a lot of trouble communicating with their families and the decide to help each other deal with their problems instead of running away from them. They argue, they make up, they pretend to be lovers, then siblings, then just friends. The two leads are attractive and I understand that the film was shot around Paris with no permits and the locations seem to be more truthful because of it. A band performing on a sidewalk becomes an excellent place for the couple to dance while leaving the van in traffic. For no reason, the guy pulls into a playground area and begins taking kids roller blade skiing as the hold a rope attached to his bumper.

It seems as if life is fine and happy for these two, but under the surface neither is sure of where they fit in the world.

The performances were fantastic and the woman who plays Anne, with her head of unruly red hair, is extremely attractive (and was seen at several films at the festival). Iím not sure what it tells us at the end, but it was fun to ride along.


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MAJOR DAMAGE
2002


March 1, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
USA
English


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LIVERMORE
2002


March 1, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
USA
English


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SUMO EAST AND WEST
2002


March 1, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
USA
English/Japanese


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DETEKTOR
(DETECTOR)
2000


March 1, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
Norway
Norwegian


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LAUNDRY
2001


February 28, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
Japan
Japanese

Notes: "...extremely well done story of borderline mentally retarded Japanese youth, his depressed female friend, and a pigeon trainer who befriends them....the trainer says 'alone, you two have no chance, but together....who know?'....."


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LOOKING THROUGH LILLIAN
2001


February 28, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
USA
English

Notes: ".....film is populated with beautiful people.....no real story.....Lillian meets with a rich guy played by Sam Bottoms where he dresses up in women's clothing and she has sex with him while wearing a strap-on.....director and producer on hand.....it looked beautiful and was stylish with slow motion work.....way too pompous.....stoplight changes from red to green to show her new life beginning.....A kite crashes in slow motion to show the impending collapse of her relationship.....lead actress is stunning and nearly always wears some sort of lingerie.....Bottoms is brave in his role--he gets sodomized onscreen.....and he is shown in his full naked glory.....these guys are way too proud of themselves for having a cross-dressing man.....the other man is a too-good-to-be-true writer who wears stylish clothes and just wants to cuddle when spending the night with the girl.....woman not a great actress.....she had no moderation--either hot or cold, blank or loud.....she certainly is attractive.....the woman goes through a change, but basically its about a woman who fucks a guy for money then falls in love with the guy who is leaving for Italy, then she leaves Bottoms who begs her to come back.....she claims to want to stop being looked through and wants to be looked at.....the good guy didn't really know her and the old guy didn't care about her....in fact, all their sex was with him in front of her.....he couldn't see her.....well shot....maybe a bit heavy-handed with song lyrics perfectly matching the scene like on THE REAL WORLD....."


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OTILIA RAUDA
(OTILIA)
2001


February 28, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
Mexico
Spanish

Notes: ".....incredibly sexy.....woman with impossibly sexy body is marred only by a birthmark over her left eye.....the town laughs at her and no one will dance with her.....sleazy cop marries her to get father's fortune.....on wedding night he gives her an STD which makes her barren and bitter.....she vows never to sleep with him again but has no trouble sleeping with other men.....she enjoys her burgeoning sexuality but doesn't expect to love.....she is protected and followed around by a dimwitted man with an infamously big penis.....she happens upon an outlaw who is dying from gunshots.....she nurses him back to health and falls in love with him.....he turns out to be the one person less able to love than she.....they have passionate sex, but he has no emotional tie.....the lead actress was incredibly sexy busting out of her dress left and right.....she is naked much of the time.....she seduces a priest and the outlaw to erotic effect.....she is brazen and full of sex and power.....she knows where her power is and she uses it fantastically.....the poor husband doesn't know what hit him.....not sure what the deeper meaning is, but it sure was sexy....."


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MR. IN-BETWEEN
2001


February 27, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
UK
English

Notes: ".....lonely hitman is living between world of evil of his boss and normal society like his buddy from school who now has a wife and child.....he is good at what he does but needs heroin and along sleep to get over the things that he's seen.....a chance meeting with a school chum leads to beers and invitations to dinner with the wife and kids.....he sees the life he now wishes he had.....the angst this guy goes through is heartbreakingly seen in his eyes at every moment.....the lead actor makes us believe it.....the style is nice but included a few too many EYES WIDE SHUT / David Lynch moments when sadists torture people.....what separates this film is the lead actor and the attraction he has not just for his friend's wife, but his friend's ordinary life.....haunting ending when he uses the final bit of his control to grab victory away from his enemy.....sad and inevitable....."

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PERFUME DE VIOLETAS, NADIE TE OYE
(VIOLET PERFUME)
2001


February 26, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
Mexico
Spanish

Notes: ".....tomboy, free spirit Yessica goes to new school and befriends Miriam.....Yessica's mom and she live with stepdad and stepbrother in a one-room shack.....Miriam has caring, beautiful mother and a bathtub.....Their friendship begins to develop until Yessica is raped by her stepbrother's friend.....everyone is against her to a cartoonish degree.....because she's so free-spirited, she must have asked for it.....she is jealous of Miriam's life and gets her into trouble by shoplifting.....after Yessica steals Miriam's money the friendship is doomed and a tussle results in Miriam's death.....the ending shot is hauntingly memorable.....Yessica took the house key from the dead Miriam and let herself in and crawled into Miriam's bed. Mother arrives home nervous to find the front door open and is filled with relief as she sees who she thinks is her daughter in bed. Then the phone rings with the terrible news.....better than I expected.....a bit too 'girl against the world'.....great portrayal of teenage friendship....."


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ICHIBAN UTSUKUSHII NATSU
(FIREFLY DREAMS)
2001


February 26, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
Japan
Japanese

Notes: "Japanese teenager Naomi is too much for her parents to handle...she has orange hair and skips school to go dancing or shopping.....she smokes and drinks.....her parents are caught up in their own estrangement.....while they go through their own angst, Naomi is sent to her aunt's house in the country for the summer to help out the running of a country inn.....she is bored silly at first but then it grows on her as she takes bike rides through the forest.....she had visited this place as a child and has fond memories of it.....she meets a boy and develops a crush.....but her best times are spent with a grandma figure who lives alone on a farm down the road.....she used to be something of a looker who once lived in Tokyo.....she gets close to Naomi.....the older woman's heart was broken by a handsome 'liar'.....they become friends....the old woman finally says 'I wish we had been girls together. We would have been great friends' Naomi says, 'we are good friends, aren't we?'.....one woman is looking back on her life as Naomi is just starting.....magical.....beautiful Japanese countryside.....slow, cool pacing.....Naomi is a revelation.....cute as a button, trying to be tough, critical, but vulnerable just beneath the surface.....the elder woman says 'you know you're cute'.....Naomi does but then again, she doesn't.....She isn't sure of her attractiveness or plan in the world....the guidance that the old woman shows will prove to be indispensible.....a magical film that I hope to see again....."


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YOUNG LOVE
2001


February 24, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
Finland
Finnish

Notes: "...sweet coming of age story from Finland...a 13-year-old boy is a photography buff...he spys his hot older neighbor changing and posing in her room with her curtains open...after she discovers this and yells at him, he successfully persuades her to model for him...he seems to have a good eye for pictures and with a gay teacher's help, he thrives...she enters a model search and wins and he is left behind, his heart broken...he learns about homophobia and artistic expression as well as love...the lead actress is absolutely gorgeous...the kid is a great actor...light and sweet with nothing to offend or think about afterwards..."


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LOLA
2001


February 24, 2002
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
Canada
English

Notes: "...Lola is a spacey woman in loveless marriage saves a stranger from getting hit by a bus...woman is a free spirit who buys Lola a drink and then takes her to a sauna...Lola is excited by her new friend...the friend owes money and is beaten up and Lola takes her wig and identity and travels to rural Canada to see the woman's estranged mother...She is now bold and brave like her new friend was...sort of a story about rebirth and identity...Lola leaves Vancouver for a mining town and appears to be happy...the mother hasn't seen her real daughter in a long time, plus her eyesight is failing which was a bit too convenient when they have a face-to-face meeting....lead actress appealing in a Lara Flynn Boyle way...the omnipresent Canadian actor Colm Feore stars as the husband..."


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