Village of the Damned [C]
(1995, John Carpenter). Viewed March 25, 2000 on DVD.

Said village apparently filled with has-been and never-were actors like Linda Kozlowski and a pre-accident Christopher Reeve damned to appear in schlockly horror remakes like this one. Of interest mainly for an eerie scene where the good people of Midwich lie unconscious in the town streets and Carpenter's usual flair for widescreen composition.


All I Wanna Do [B-]
(2000, Sarah Kernochan). Viewed March 25, 2000 at Union Square.

A cinematic oddball orphaned by Miramax theatrically[1], Kernochan's ode to all-female boarding schols is an uneasy mix of 60s era Disney comedy shenanigans (though they're somewhat more raunchy) and spiky feminism. Better than the usual run of teen comedies, as its cast was chosen more for their ability to act (including such young indie luminaries as Kirsten Dunst, Gaby Hoffman, and Heather Matarozzo) than their TV-ready good looks. I enjoyed it, but I also grew up on 60s/70s Disney comedies.


Sonatine [B]
(1995, Takeshi Kitano). Viewed at Film Forum on March 25, 2000.

Visually magnificent, especially in the bottle-rocket scene (I didn't know film could be that blue..), but I find the plot ellipses that's the hallmark of Kitano's yakuza epics more annoying than edifying. Though I've yet to come across a Kitano film I don't like, I've yet to find one that I adore, with the relatively mainstream Kikujiro coming closest.


The Ninth Gate [C-]
(2000, Roman Polanski). Viewed at E-Walk on March 25, 2000.

The most rewarding things about the Ninth Gate are Johnny Depp's oddly magnetic performance, some occasional moments of sly wit (favorite: the passcode to a library on Satan being you-know-what), and a heady fetishism of old books that just cries out for Odorama. Otherwise, it's a bore; it doesn't take itself seriously enough to evoke even the slightest bit of horror and too seriously to be enjoyable as a lark.


The Unbearable Lightness of Being [B+]
(1988, Phillip Kaufman). Viewed on DVD March 27, 2000.

Engrossing and sensual (an arthouse film where people actually look like they're enjoying sex!) and boasting superb performances from Binoche and Olin. Even at three hours though, the film has the choppiness of a best-scenes excerption of Kundera's novel (which I haven't read) and the ending is an annoying case of arbitrary tragedy, a romantically downbeat finis written expressly for the sole purpose of avoiding "happily ever after".


Pleasantville [A-]
(1998, Dave Ross). Viewed on DVD March 28, 2000.

One one hand, this is one of the most intoxicatingly beautiful films Hollywood has made in recent years; its central visual conceit of color slowly appearing in a B&W world is rendered with astonishing beauty and with the added bonus of Randy Newman's fantastic score and a wonderful cast. On the other, this is thematically one very muddled film. As a wiseass take on Eden, it's fine, even if Ross overplays his hand[2]. When it an turns into an allegory on 20th century fascism and racism for a brief period near the end, it comes across as painfully shallow. And let's not even get to the film's ostenible point about the American ideal (as represented by Pleasantville B&W) being a false mirage when Pleasantville color is just as much a fantasia.


[1]It was being self-distributed by its director in New York before its upcoming video release.

[2]Having Maguire bite into an apple given to him by his girlfriend is obvious enough. Having Don Knots circle the apple John Madden style is treating the audience like dunderheads.