Film Openings

Week of July 10, 2002

Audition. Takeshi Miike. There is no way to talk about this 1999 film from prolific young Japanese director Miike without giving away more of its story than we'd like, but we have a moral obligation here. An earnest, shy, middle-aged widower (Ryo Ishibashi), longing to remarry, is convinced by his best friend to hold auditions for a nonexistent movie in order to meet a large number of women. Among them is an incredibly beautiful young woman (Eihi Shiina) with whom he falls head over heels in love. The first third of the film is played like a romance, almost a romantic comedy, but we begin to get jarring hints that maybe there's something a little bit "wrong" about the woman. (By comparison, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction was Mary effin' Poppins.) By the final third, Audition has turned into one of the most stomach-churningly violent films ever made. Miike could be accused of exploitation here, but the film's artfulness is its own justification. It's an amazingly controlled piece of work, with a clear moral dimension beneath. Plays at midnight July 12-13 at the Tivoli Theatre. (AK)

Caravaggio. Caravaggio. Derek Jarman. A beautiful film that examines the life of Renaissance painter Michelangelo Merisa da Caravaggio, Derek Jarman's 1986 film, one of his more mainstream efforts, features Nigel Terry, Sean Bean and Tilda Swinton. This re-release plays at 8 p.m. July 12-14 at Webster University.

CQ. Roman Coppola. This sweet, savvy time capsule and feature debut from writer/director Coppola is set primarily in Paris, circa 1969. After a rabid revolutionary (Gerard Depardieu) and a smug brat (Jason Schwartzman) get the boot, a young, self-obsessed American filmmaker (Jeremy Davies) is abruptly promoted to director of a kitschy sci-fi extravaganza starring a go-go-booted heroine (Angela Lindvall). CQ -- clever code for "seek you" -- might have dissolved into a ghastly mash of second-hand nostalgia and precious angst if it weren't for Coppola's apparent hots for the material. As it stands, he has his gateau and eats it too, traipsing through glammy period Eurotrash and blurring it with increasingly tangible episodes of the slick sci-fi movie. The poppy score by Mellow steals liberally -- and well -- from the Beatles, the locations (in Luxembourg, France and Italy) tinge most every scene with romance and Paul's evolution from interviewing himself to fielding questions from insane journalists is satisfying indeed. Seek on, noble Roman, that ye may continue to find. Opens July 12 at the Tivoli. (GW)

The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course. John Stainton. What's with the Aussies and their crocodiles? In a weird bit of déjà vu, crazy antics and reptilian fun ensue when a bumbling, funny Australian adventurer (Steve Irwin a.k.a. the Crocodile Hunter) stumbles into trouble. Funny accent, funny times, no Paul Hogan to be seen in this comedy about a croc wrangler who accidently catches the wrong croc, one that has swallowed a top-secret U.S. satellite beacon. When agents begin pursuing the animal, all hell breaks loose, and guffaws no doubt follow. Opens July 12 at multiple locations. NR

The Emperor's New Clothes. Alan Taylor. As posited by novelist Simon Leys (The Death of Napoleon) and director Taylor (director of cool TV, including Six Feet Under), Napoleon Bonaparte may have lived on beyond exile, undertaking his life's most challenging campaign, seeking happiness as a common man. Having portrayed Napoleon twice before (dramatically in the 1974 miniseries Napoleon and Love and hilariously in Terry Gilliam's 1981 Time Bandits), Sir Ian Holm delivers the role with unquestionable authority. The veracity is vital, because we're required to swallow a long line of fanciful implausibilities involving the emperor's escaping St. Helena and landing in Paris with a struggling single mother (Iben Hjejle) and her son (Giovanni Gianasso). The only significant flaw of The Emperor's New Clothes is its languid pacing, but otherwise, in tampering with history, these storytellers present to us a rare and wonderful case of enlightenment beyond the accepted truth. Opens July 12 at the Plaza Frontenac. (GW)

Halloween: Resurrection. Rick Rosenthal. Halloween: Resurrection (a.k.a. Halloween XXXII) features an updated twist on the franchise: Yes, teens are trapped in a house with a deadly pursuer in their midst. But this time, the Internet's broadcasting the whole hellish nightmare to millions. Opens July 12 at multiple locations. NR

Reign of Fire. Rob Bowman. By summoning dragons, storytellers can count on a passionate rise from their audience, which is why this adventure from Bowman (The X-Files movie) has built-in appeal. Who wouldn't want to watch the last bastion of humanity struggling against an Armageddon wave of wicked wyrms? Indeed, there's no benevolent Pete's Dragon or Sean Connery's Draco here -- by 2020, the foul dragons have snuffed out most of civilization -- but the impressive beasts are employed to splendid metaphorical effect, which may be lost on viewers perceiving nothing but an action romp. Despite its stylistic lifts from Red Dawn (the encampment), The Road Warrior (the exposition), the Big Apple dragon flick Q and the Alien movies (of which this feels like the proper third installment), Reign of Fire is only peripherally about fantastic happenings anyway. What's really afoot is a teary-eyed, chrome-domed cowboy (Matthew McConaughey) bolstering the bollocks of a pouty British sad lad (Christian Bale) just in time to save the world. Opens July 12 at multiple locations. (GW)

Road to Perdition. Sam Mendes. Opens July 12 at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

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