FILMS SEEN IN AMERICA
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My wife Pille and I share an interest in film.
When coming to the big city of Miami, we expected to find great opportunities
to watch film. This shows how little we knew of the place we were going.
Firstly, the cinemas are not in any kind of city centre but thinly spread out over a great area. It can easily take an hour by car to get to the cinema, and without a car most of the cinemas are unaccessible (by Swedish standards, that is - by American reckoning practically anything outside your block is impossible to get to without a car). In Uppsala, on the other hand, one can tour all the cinemas by foot in fifteen minutes.
Secondly, nearly all the cinemas in Miami seem to be competing with each other by showing the same films. The latest American comedies or action movies are on simultaneously in most of the "first-class" cinemas, and then appear a couple of months later in most of the budget cinemas, so there is little advantage in having many cinemas to choose from. (A fortunate exception to this commercialistic attitude to film is the Bill Cosford cinema at the University. No, I don't know who Mr. Cosford is. Probably someone who donated money. More money, that is, than those who only got one seat each named after them. I'll name my broom closet after anyone who donates five dollars to help me with the rent! E-mail me for details.)
I have made some statistics on the local cinema program - "local", in the case of Miami, meaning an area about as large as Stockholm with its suburbs. (Shows in different theatres at the same cinema count as one showing, since it makes little practical difference whether a film is shown in two small or one big theatre in the same building.)
In Miami, 369 shows in 35 cinemas featured 58 different films. In Uppsala at about the same time, 38 shows in 6 cinemas featured 38 different films, with no duplicate showings.
In Miami, we can with a little effort (taking the commuter train or a bus, for instance) see perhaps 30 different films at any given time. In Uppsala, we could with no effort at all see more films. But we still go to the cinema more in Miami than we ever did in Sweden, partly because of the low ticket prices in the afternoons, partly because Floridan TV is really very bad - a subject to which I may return later, perhaps.
So, here is a list of all the new films we have seen in America. Toward the end, there are also some comments on a few interesting, older films seen there. Ratings (on a scale from 1, awful, over 5, tolerable, to 9, excellent) are given by Mikael and Pille separately. Comments by Mikael.
|Shall We Dance?||7||In Japan, ballroom dancing is regarded as a suspicious, even somewhat perverted hobby. But when a humble office clerk falls in love with a rather frigid dance instructor, he signs up for dance lessons at her school. A tragicomical film about a restrictive, conformistic society where losing face will wreck your career.|
|In & Out||6||Comedy with a serious theme: Small town schoolteacher, a latent homosexual, is outed on national television by well-meaning ex-student, now a celebrated actor. Fairly good most of the time, often funny, but uneven. Unoriginal ending. Probably does many people good to see it, though, judging by the horrified moans from the audience as Kevin Kline got kissed by Tom Selleck.|
|L. A. Confidential||3||A film for those who enjoy seeing defenceless people brutally beaten by gangsters and police alike. Very unpleasant.|
|Irma Vep||7||-||A cineast's film, or metafilm, about the remake of Irma Vep, an old (silent) French vampire film. Good acting, and amazingly authentic environments, probably because, I believe, many scenes were shot in actual apartments rather than in studio. Such are the advantages of a low budget! Not much of a plot in the traditional sense.|
|Kull the Conqueror||7||6||Surprisingly good, despite that we have seen it all before in the Conan/Red Sonia movies and innumerable cheaper Barbarian spin-offs. The magnificent scenery, the great effort put into details, and tasteful moderation in the use of special effects makes it a quality film despite the simplistic plot. Made in Slovenia with American actors in the leading parts.|
|Conspiracy Theory||7||7||Uneven and filled with cliches, including the tiresome The Hero Is Actually Mentally Ill And Imagines Us The Enemy While We Only Want To Help Him So Will You, Whom He Loves And Trusts, Please Betray Him To Us scenario. Furthermore, it vacillates uncomfortably between comedy and cruelty. There are a few original ideas in the film, but still it would probably fall flat were it not for Mel Gibson's, believe it or not, truly excellent acting. As of this film, Gibson is on a level with Jack Nicholson and Anthony Perkins in portraying psychologically abnormal characters.|
|Love serenade||7||7||Likeable Australian low-budget film with some surrealistic elements. Second-rate celebrity, a slimy radio host, moves to small rural town and is courted by two hare-brained sisters.|
|Event Horizon||5||2||This film is easy to describe. Take the plot of Solaris, place it in the setting of 2010: Second Odyssey, and throw in all the cenobites from Hellraiser I, II and III. Add a few touches of the Evil-in-our-subconcious theme of Forbidden Planet, populate with the foul-mouthed kick-ass marines from Aliens, and you've got Event Horizon.|
|Kissed||8||7||Nice story about girl with close relation to corpses - they need love, too!|
|Crash||9||7||Best Cronenberg since Videodrome.|
|Rough Magic||8||9||Delightful and lovely fairytale not quite like any other film I've seen. Probably the perfect family film.|
|The Pillow Book||7||7||Beautiful footage of calligraphy and anatomy makes up for a thin plot. More of visual arts than traditional movie entertainment. Worth seeing. Homophobes beware!|
|Face/Off||3||5||Speculative violence with few redeeming qualities. Preposterous plot, vaguely fascistic story elements, but admittedly good acting.|
|Batman and Robin||1||2||Really, really dumb. The actors appear to be embarrassed and read their lines as if they had never seen them before. By far the worst Batman movie yet.|
|The Fifth Element||1||3||Imbecile shoot-em-up with cute girl, flying cars and the dumbest plot in years (this was written before the release of "Batman and Robin"). The audience seemed to love it, though. Heavy-handed product placement by big hamburger chain.|
|Men in Black||7||7||Funny but lightweight comedy offers quality entertainment, some pretty good jokes and not much more. Much better than most films of its kind.|
|Grosse Pointe Blank||-||1|
|Two Days in the Valley||7||8||The catfight scene alone is worth the admission.|
|Fierce Creatures||7||7||Intelligent British comedy. Not very Pythonesque.|
|Evita||7||8||Banderas brilliant as sarcastic Che Guevara.|
|7||4||Good SoW level.|
|Sleepers||4||5||Courtroom drama warning.|
|Ransom||2||2||Insults the viewers' intelligence.|
|Scream||3||Intentionally stereotypic. Some funny clichés.|
|One Fine Day||2||3||Kids torture parents, very depressing to watch.|
|First Wives' Club||2||2||Pretends to be feministic? I don't get it.|
|The English Patient||-||6|
|The Whole Wide World||8||9||Made with talent instead of effects. Tragic love story of writer Robert E. Howard and school teacher.|
|Vegas Vacation||6||5||Not bad, for a simple, American comedy.|
|Surviving Picasso||7||7||Based on the memoires of one of Picasso's many women.|
|Last Man Standing||5||5||American interpretation of Kurosawa script. Nothing like the original.|
|Underground||9||5||Political allegory over modern Yugoslavian history. Ranges from slapstick over burlesque to scenes of marvellous beauty against a backdrop of burning towns. Directed by Emir Kusturica, of whom I think we will hear more in the next few years. Highly recommended.|
|The Mirror Has Two Faces||-||3||Sorry, I fell asleep.|
|Mighty Aphrodite||6||6||Hardly a landmark in Woody Allen's career. Saved by Mira Sorvino's warm-hearted prostitute.|
|Lost Highway||6||7||The extremely, almost insultingly obscure plot impairs an otherwise well played and shot film. By David Lynch.|
|Trainspotting||8||8||Cinematic punk rock. Not Hollywood. Authentic.|
|French Kiss||7||7||Kevin Kline is good as French crook. Romantic.|
|Groundhog Day||8||6||Inventive and original comedy.|
|The Man Who Fell To Earth||6||6||Almost as odd as Zabriskie Point.|
|Änglagård - andra sommaren||5||5||A sequel, again not as good as the original film.|
|Jägarna||7||6||This very good police film that takes place in Sweden among what could well be likened to Amerikan "rednecks". Tragic story, believable characters. No shoot-out at the end; actually, the only shooting in the film is done with hunting rifles.|
|Twelve Monkeys||7||6||Well-made, absurd, rather intelligent time travel story. Terry Gilliam pays much attention to details as usual. Many scenes remind of "Brazil".|
|Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey
|8||5||See the films, then love them or hate them. Despite the light-hearted approach, these are among the very few time-travel films that get their temporalistics straight and dare to fully draw out the consequences. I think the films are hysterically funny.|
Want to find out the details of the films above? Easy thing!
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