First movie Bunuel directed in 14 years, beginning his Mexican period with producer Oscar Dancigers.

Guitar guy in the prison in opening scene glances at the camera a couple times. Not on purpose, was it? Guess I’d have to hear the lyrics to know for sure. Damn cheap Lionsgate paid for an audio commentary but didn’t subtitle any of the songs. Why? It’s a musical. Lyrics might be meaningful. I can understand about half of the spoken Spanish dialogue but hardly any of the song lyrics. Wotever.

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Dreamy Gerardo and his mechanic friend Demetrio break out of prison and go looking for work… meet up with Heriberto, who introduces to Jose Enrique, owner of The National oil field, under siege from evil oil barons who threaten the workers. G & D are naive and need work so they recruit people easily and get the place running again. all is fine until baddie oilman Fabio has owner Jose Enrique killed.

Demetrio takes over the National next. The night before the oil is to start pumping, he goes to the casino and falls for Camelia, same girl J.E. was last seen with, and he too disappears courtesy of Fabio’s goons.

Well, Gerardo isn’t gonna take this anymore. When the beautiful Mercedes, J.E.’s sister, arrives from South America, she gets a job as a singer at the casino in order to find out more. Initially thinks G. is in on the plot, but belatedly teams up with him and helps foil Fabio. In the end she sells the National to the big big oilman, knowing that G has rigged the whole place to explode if he doesn’t make it back on time (and he doesn’t). Poor Heriberto and his kleptomaniac girlfriend Nanette are presumably left back in town with no work, as Mercedes and Gerardo ride the train outta town.

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A few, very few, possibly Bunuelian touches through psychologically meaningful shots… a drunk Gerardo stares at Nanette’s distorted, fading reflection in an ice bucket… a pane of breaking glass is superimposed on the image when G. knocks a guy out. Other than that, this is a very straightforward little studio movie. Looks awfully cheap for a musical, but not in a shoddy way, just in a non-Hollywood scaled-down way. We mustn’t blame Bunuel for the trite flicks he made in order to get by… it’s films like these that got him back in the director’s seat again, directly leading to Los Olvidados a few years later.

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From the director of Kinky Boots and a whole lotta tasteful literary adaptations comes this tasteful literary adaptation.

Katy liked it. I didn’t mind it because I was floating on having just seen Sunshine.

Jane Austen = Anne Hathaway (whom I half-saw when I half-watched half of The Devil Wears Prada).
Mrs. Austen = Julie Walters (mrs. weasley in Harry Potter)
Mr. Austen – James Cromwell (of I Robot and Star Trek First Contact)
Love Interest = James McAvoy (boring dude in Last King of Scotland)
His Uncle = Ian Richardson (Mr. Book in Dark City, Mr. Warrenn in Brazil)
False Love Interest = Laurence Fox (Gosford Park)
His Mom = Maggie Smith (Gosford Park, Harry Potter)

Loved this. The music was perfect. As things start to fall apart on the spaceship, the image gets more strange, with some almost avant-garde shots throughout the second half.

Spaceship behind giant solar shield is heading for dying sun to launch a bomb that may reignite it. On the way, they board the previous ship that was sent out on same mission, now inhabited by a dark force. Shades of Event Horizon follow, with a heaven thing going instead of Event‘s hell thing.

Each crew member gets enough personality to be easily distinguished a half hour in (and I was hardly trying to keep up), so that instead of wasting time in the second half trying to remember who’s who, we can focus on action blasting through space. Your standard kinda Aliens / The Abyss sci-fi action structure then, but with images that do not seem to belong in a big-budget movie. The camera can’t seem to SEE the Icarus 1 captain – he’s always out of focus or hidden by sunlight, even when another character should be able to see him clearly. I just enjoyed the hell out of that idea, and probably appreciate the movie more than I should because I’ve latched onto it. But there’s no shame in loving a particularly well-made sci-fi thriller. This one will be my War of the Worlds or Minority Report for 2007.

Who were those people: Cillian Murphy is in an upcoming film noir comedy. Michelle Yeoh was in Crouching Tiger. Rose Byrne was the girl in 28 Weeks Later and Kirsten’s friend in Marie Antoinette. The tan guy was in The Fountain and Die Hard 4. The captain played the lead in Twilight Samurai and was in The Promise and Ring. Suicide guy was in Code 46 and Tristram Shandy. The replacement captain was Human Torch in Fantastic Four. The guy who doesn’t make it back from Icarus 1 played Tom Hayden in Steal This Movie. And best of all, the captain from Icarus 1 (which lost contact seven years ago) was in 1999’s Sunshine (just over seven years ago) starring Ralph Fiennes in the Cillian Murphy role.

Back in fashion because of Pan’s Labyrinth.

I keep coming back to the “Dance Magic Dance” song, the biggest batch of silliness that Bowie gets himself mixed up in. He manages to be pretty cool throughout the rest, despite being a glammed up villain in a pg-rated movie. Jennifer Connelly is fine as a spacey, dorky girl. She was better in Phenomena.

Warwick David AND Kenny Baker played goblins. Terry Jones and Elaine May writing, and George Lucas exec produced.

All that talent involved, all those puppets and matte paintings, and what do we have? An over-expensive little mess of a movie. Pretty funny in parts, but not too cool anymore as an adult. Another one lost. Saw parts of Beetlejuice on TV the other day and I’m sure that one’s still good. Still, a fun enough time at the movies. There aren’t enough puppets in movies these days.

Katy says she shouldn’t have even gone.

Kelly’s follow-up Southland Tales starring The Rock and Buffy is finally getting released later this year, or so I’ve heard.

Forgot how GOOD this movie is. Somehow I’d chalked it up as a sentimental underdog fave, but I still really like it.

Donnie’s dad will be in Southland Tales, and we caught him last night in Bring It On.
Donnie’s mom plays the president of Battlestar Galactica.
Samantha Darko is Lilo in Lilo & Stitch and a regular in Katy’s Big Love.
Bunny Suit Frank was in every “cool” teen movie in the 90’s.
Donnie’s teacher is in Southland Tales, No Country For Old Men, and Little Miss Sunshine (as a pageant official).
Recording artist Jena Malone will be in Into The Wild and The Ruins.
Seth Rogen of Knocked Up was apparently in there somewhere.
Donnie’s psychiatrist had starring roles in Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid, The Graduate, The Final Countdown and Stepford Wives.

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Watched again, this time on film, and confirmed that it’s one of the greatest movies I’ve seen this year. Fiery badass political in a more artful way than Michael Moore could ever dream, the culmination of Sissako’s filmmaking styles from Waiting For Happiness and Life On Earth merged with a long, deep-seated desire for change. Too bad it’s almost impossible to recommend as good art and entertainment to people not already interested in African cinema… they’ll never believe me. Jimmy liked it too!

Wow, a helluva good movie, with a lousy presentation by The Pan-African Film Festival at The High. Maybe they should’ve taken a look at the shoddy sub-VHS-quality videorecording they had before making people pay $8 each for a public screening of it.

After liking Burnett’s Killer of Sheep very much, but his shorts and his My Brother’s Wedding not so much, I was kind of anxious about this one, so chose to see it over Sembene’s Ceddo. Currently Anger isn’t out on video, but the moment it’s released, that decision will have been a mistake. Anyway.

Father of the family is named Gideon (heh). Old family friend Harry shows up one day, and suddenly Gideon falls ill and his younger son is threatening to follow in Harry’s immoral footsteps, when suddenly, thanks to some spilled marbles (preceded by Gid’s wife taking a stand against Harry), all is set right again.

Then comes the part that Ebert hated… Harry dies ten minutes before the movie ends, and the rest of the time is spent gradually reassembling the family, talking over what’s happened, and waiting (over a day) for the county coroner to show up. Dunno why Ebert wishes a more commercial rhythm upon an independently-minded film. “All movies should end the same way!”

It’s as if Burnett’s African-American family had become more well-off with each movie. Killer of Sheep they are barely getting by, My Brother’s Wedding they’re poor but surviving, and now they’ve got a nice house and a thriving multi-generational family. Harry is a reminder of the past, but there are reminders everywhere in references to slavery and folklore. The family is drawn in great detail, and the good vs. evil metaphor is clear without being hacky/obvious. Really a shockingly good movie for something nobody talks about and not available on video. Won a Sundance jury award and four independent spirit awards before sinking into obscurity, being replaced by Grand Canyon on the new release shelf.

The President Has AIDS (2006, Arnold Antonin
Totally ineptly made movie with honorable intentions, defended by lead actor (the Haitian from Heroes) in post-movie discussion. Apparently the Haitian independent film scene isn’t all that it could be. Not about the “president”, but a super popular entertainer (and, inexplicably, a regular guy who looks identical to him). Good to hear that it did well in Haiti and got people talking, anyway.

Salud (2006, Connie Field)
Documentary on Cuban medical system, but mostly set in other countries where Cuban doctors set up to help poor populations that local doctors can’t or won’t treat. Pretty okay doc, but I mostly remember the less-okay post-movie discussion led by an alternative-medicine advocate who loomed in front of Katy and me.

Daughters of the Dust (1991, Julie Dash)
I spaced out during the entire movie, and whenever I looked up I saw some languid images and heard conversations that I could only barely understand when I tried hard. Didn’t seem worth trying that hard. Sorry, acclaimed african american director Julie Dash!

The Simpsons Movie!

Opening night crowd laughed and clapped.

Disappointing? We didn’t think so.

Cameos: an incognito Albert Brooks plays the head of the EPA, and Tom Hanks and Green Day play themselves.