The Man Who Viewed Too Much
6 April 1998

Jump back, sit back, get back,'s okay.
I called in sick, I won't go to work today.
I'd rather be with the one I love.
I neglect my duties; I'll be in trouble, but:

"Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town," Talking Heads

No, no, you're right. I can't deny it. I have been remiss. No doubt you're all expecting the usual convoluted compendium of excuses and justifications and rationalizations, but in fact I can sum up the reason for my pseudo-critical neglect in just two words: new girlfriend. (I was about to sum it up in three words, but the object of my adoration -- who, for reasons too complicated to get into here, is justifiably a tad paranoid -- has requested that I not refer to her by name.) (No, she's not famous.) (Yet.) Enough said, yes? You're all hip to the way that love, in its initial amphetaminic stages, envelopes your existence and hijacks your attention span and makes you wonder why the hell you ever bothered performing any of the mundane daily tasks that had once seemed so all-fired important, right? Suffice to say that since about mid-January I have been, with respect to this column, The Man Who Wooed Too Much.

Upshot is that I've once again got more movies in the ol' queue than I can reasonably tackle in one column in my standard format; and since I plan to address another two dozen films (albeit briefly) in my subsequent annual New Directors/New films column, it would behoove me to get my passion-addled ass in some remote facsimile of gear, here. To speed things along, therefore, I've decided for this installment to borrow the format that my friend Charles François used for his invaluable reports from the 1997 Toronto International Film Festival. (Charles is currently in the process of adding slightly revised versions of these reports to his own site; here's an example, to whet your appetite.) I refer to this format as "notes for a review I probably won't ever get around to writing, knowing me"; employing it will allow me to address the salient issues in each case without pausing to think up clever segues or strained witticisms. (I'll be curious to see whether mail urging me to stick to this format comes a-pourin' in. For the record, I don't intend to. Stick to it, that is.) Unlike Charles, I don't actually jot anything down, either during or immediately after a film, but I do generally make copious mental notes on the way home, and a handful of those usually forms the basis of my subsequent review. So what you'll see this week is more or less my immediate post-film thinking -- as I remember it, anyway -- unadulterated by my anal-retentive desire to progress from point to point in a logical and orderly (if terminally digressive) fashion. Welcome, in short, to my mind: a nice place to visit but. If you know what I mean.

The Spanish Prisoner
Director: David Mamet
Screenplay: David Mamet
Cast: Campbell Scott, Rebecca Pidgeon, Steve Martin

Grade: B

A Price Above Rubies
Director: Boaz Yakin
Screenplay: Boaz Yakin
Cast: Renée Zellweger, Christopher Eccleston, Glenn Fitzgerald

Grade: C+

The Newton Boys
Director: Richard Linklater
Screenplay: Richard Linklater & Claude Stanush & Clark Lee Walker
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Skeet Ulrich

Grade: B

Director: Mike van Diem
Screenplay: Mike van Diem and Laurens Geels and Ruud van Megen
Cast: Fedja van Huet, Jan Decleir, Victor Löw

Grade: B-

Brigands: Chapter VII
Director: Otar Iosseliani
Screenplay: Otar Iosseliani
Cast: Amiran Amiranashvili, Alexi Djakeli, Keli Kapanadze

Grade: C-

The Big Lebowski
Director: Joel Coen
Screenplay: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Cast: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore

Grade: B

(Right about here, your intrepid correspondent suffered his first-ever kidney stone attack, involving a couple of days' hospitalization and the regular post-discharge ingestion of codeine, a drug known less for its mind-expanding powers of creative enhancement than for its soporific side effects. Now that I've awakened from my pharmaceutical coma (seeing Easy Rider again during the interim didn't help any, man), I've decided that it would behoove both myself and my patient readers if I put early spring's lineup behind me and returned to my standard semi-weekly format. Accordingly, I've written the remaining half-dozen reviews in Haiku, employing a mere 17 syllables per film in the American (I think) 5-7-5 structure. Incisive, yet concise. And fast -- did I mention fast?)

Men with Guns
Director: John Sayles
Screenplay: John Sayles
Cast: Federico Luppi, Damián Delgado, Dan Rivera González

Grade: B

Like many Sayles films,
This should have been a novel.
And yet it still works.

Director: Robert Benton
Screenplay: Robert Benton & Richard Russo
Cast: Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman

Grade: C+

Some damn fine acting
In service of a subpar
Movie of the week.

Mrs Dalloway
Director: Marleen Gorris
Screenplay: Eileen Atkins
Cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Natascha McElhone, Rupert Graves

Grade: C+

Much like Orlando,
This proves that film directors
Should leave Woolf alone.

Dark City
Director: Alex Proyas
Screenplay: Alex Proyas and Lem Dobbs and David S. Goyer
Cast: Rufus Sewell, Jennifer Connelly, Kiefer Sutherland

Grade: C+

Better than The Crow,
But then, I mean, jesus christ,
It'd have to be.

Moon over Broadway
Directors: D A Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus

Grade: C+

You've seen Noises Off?
This doc's a facsimile,
But minus the jokes.