My Mother’s Castle

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Four stars

A picture like a walk on a breezy, sunny day.  Submissive, girl-crazy, young boy, early 20th century, French country summer.  Bittersweet memories, the ghost of your childhood.  A family uses a secret key to shortcut through the canals in the backyards of Marseilles’ wealthy elites.  Most everyone is full of love and help but there are a few dickheads (just like life).  Pages turn to dust, families turn to death.  World War 1 looms, casts a shadow.  Novelists cast a spell.  This movie is a spell.  This movie is sweet, sunny insects buzzing and river water lapping in concrete sluice.

D & W: Yves Robert, More W: Marcel Pagnol & Jérôme Tonnerre, P by: Robert Alazraki, E by: Pierre Gillette, M by: Vladimir Cosma, w/Nathalie Roussel, Phillippe Caubère, Julian Ciamanca, Phillipe Uchan, Didier Paine, Thérèse Liotard, Julie Timmerman, jean Rochefort, etc…98 min, France, 1991

Strictly Ballroom

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Four stars

Sweet soaring hullabaloo!  For the love of the dance!  An Ugly Duckling picture, an Aussie adventure.  There’s sexy jazzy Cyndi Lauper covers, and scenery chewing caricatures.  I watched this movie and stomped my feet, shook my hips, grabbed the dog and improvised some bossa nova steps.

D & W: Baz Luhrmann, More W: Andrew Bovell & Craig Pearce, P by: Steve Mason, E by: Jill Bilcock, M by: David Hirschfelder, w/Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter, Pat Thomson, Barry Hunter, Todd McKenney, John Hanan, Gia Carides, etc…94 min, Australia, 1992

The Babysitter

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Two stars

The thrilling wrongness of being outside peering in.  Men breaking boundaries, burdening budding sexuality.  Men fantasizing about giving Alicia Silverstone a bath.  Soapin’ up her back, oh yeah.  A #yesallwomen picture.  A classical piano score.  If this movie were made today the quarterback in the diner besot by patriarchal temptation would be reading the Robert Coover source material as a sorta meta nod or easter egg rather than Catcher in the Rye, the go-to text of Hollywood for symbolizing white male angst.

D & W: Guy Ferland; P: Rick Bota; E: Jim Prior & Victoria T. Thompson; M: Loek Dikker, thnx Robert Coover & Joel Shumacher, w/Alicia Silverstone, J.T.Walsh, Lee Garlington, George Segal, Lois Chiles, Jeremy London, Nicky Katt, Tuesday Knight, etc…90 min, USA, 1995

Crash

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Four stars

I remember reading this thing once where J.G. Ballard said he didn’t get any boners when writing Crash. Like somebody was accusing him of writing a smut book and he was like, “Hey, I did not pop a single bone on it, ok?” Seems like a weird thing to remember, like maybe I made it up in order to feel bad about my own carnal reactions to creative endeavors. Aroused by baking cheesecake, by writing copy.  James Spader dry humps wrecked motorists in dwindling twilight on the turnpike’s on-ramp.  Everybody hot for James Dean.

D & W by: David Cronenberg, More W: J.D. Ballard, P by: Peter Suschitzky, E by: Ronald Sanders, M by: Howard Shore, w/James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas, Deborah Kara Unger, Rosanna Arqutte, Peter MacNeil, Yolande Julian, Cheryl Swarts, etc..100 min, Canada, 1996

Panther

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Three stars

On July 13th, 2013 George Zimmerman was acquitted of the heinous slaughter of innocent Trayvon Martin and with the verdict a bit of my own naiveté died.  The justice system seemed broken and I awoke to the privilege I’d been dealt all along by the dumb luck of my skin’s low melanin count.  Just last week the police acted out of fear and prejudice and shot Philando Castille & Alton Sterling on camera in MN and LA respectively.  It’s past time to join peaceful protestors.  To recognize that all lives can’t matter until black lives do.  To open my heart and soul to blackness.  To practice the humanity I preach.  Watching movies is not enough, but here’s a black one.  Huey Newton & Bobby Seale’s lives are dramatized.  A black child dies because a stoplight isn’t installed in the ghetto. 

D by: Mario Van Peebles, W by: Melvin Van Peebles, P by: Edward J. Pei, E by: Earl Watson & Kevin Lindstrom, w/Kadeem Hardison, Marcus Chong, Bokem Woodbine, Courtney B. Vance, Angela Bassett, Joe Don Baker, Nefertiti, Chris Rock, etc…124 min, USA, 1995

Mermaid’s Scar

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Three stars

Immortal frog flesh!  The blood of Mothers!  A strange woman on a hill, her nocturnal mysteries.  The day laborers have come by train to our seaside hamlet.  They swill our coffee and stand stoic with secrets but they work hard enough and soon we’ll have enough trenches for everyone’s peace.  That is, until the twisted carnage.  Always these mermaids and their twisted carnage.

D by: Morio Asaka, W & A by: Rumiko Takahashi, More W: Tatsuhiko Urahata, More A: Kumiko Takahashi, M by: Norihiro Tsuru, w/Jason Gray-Stanford, Lalainia Lindbjerg, Chris Turner, Janyse Jaud, Kathleen Barr, Terry Klassen & Teryl Rothery, 50 min, Japan, 1993

The Snapper

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Three stars

This one was recommended to me by attractive marrieds.  They’d come to see me drink menstrual blood and shake my butt under a big tent during an evening of orgiastic Klezmer and glitter and then they wrote to me via Facebook and suggested this Irish comedy about a quirky family and a teenage pregnancy.  I fear I’m obfuscating the connection in an ill-conceived effort to be a wise-guy.  The connection is love.

D by: Stephen Frears, W by: Roddy Doyle. P by: Oliver Stapleton, E by: Mike Audsley, w/Tina Kellegher, Colm Meaney, Ruth McCabe, Fionnuala Murphy, Diedre O’Brian, Pat Laffan, Karen Woodley, Brendan Gleeson, 91 min, Ireland, 1993