In his 25th film, Vicente Aranda revisits the theme of his previous outing, 1999's "Jealousy," a contemporary, overripe exploration of sexual obsession, this time bringing a historical sweep to the subject. "Mad Love" is a dark, lush costume drama that offers a sympathetic reappraisal of a misunderstood protagonist. But unlike "Camille Claudel," which similarly chronicled the brutalities of love between two strong-willed, needy people, there's no backdrop of artistic or intellectual pursuit to lend the material complexity. Despite the film's arresting eroticism and visual riches--stark Spanish and Portuguese locations among them--there are stretches in which viewers might find themselves considering unrelated matters.Read more
A story of young lovers (Chris O'Donnell and Drew Barrymore) on the road that takes a markedly dramatic turn, "Mad Love" is the studio debut of director Antonia Bird--who earlier this year gave us the superb "Priest." Not surprisingly, in her hands this Touchstone production aims for far more than fast cars and hot love, blending into the genre's mix a psychological complexity via Barrymore's character, whose suffering from mental illness demands something deeper than easy romance from O'Donnell's Matt. Fortunately, both actors--who also share the screen in "Batman Forever"--are up to the challenge.Read more
"I bet I come out alive and you don't," says Rollo Rohleder (Jochen Nickel), a gruff German noncom seeking valor and an Iron Cross, to Hans Von Witzland (Thomas Kreischmann), an idealistic young lieutenant, as the two Sixth Army soldiers are cattle-carred across summery Russian steppes toward Stalingrad in 1942. Their fear is only infantry's normal fear -- the bullet with one's name on it -- and not the fear of the loss of a world. Which makes sense: To this point, Hitler's blitzkriegs have proved unstoppable. Soon, though, even Rommel's Afrikakorps will be beaten at El Alamein, and the ...Read more
A young Omahan named Simon (Hughston Walkinshaw), who has journeyed to Nepal to study Buddhism, returns to his hometown and finds the dysfunctional stress of living among small-town Americana driving him to chew on his Oriental prayer stones for comfort. The stones, insists former high-school flame and New Age convert Gina (Jill Anderson), are emeralds that could finance a new life for Simon. Two things stand in his way: Simon's belief that selling the religious objects would be sacrilegious, and Colombian thieves (Frankie Bee and Christopher M. Dukes) eager to change their own fortunes. An inventive resolution after an I-80 chase to Carhenge--a Stonehenge re-creation using old American cars near Alliance, Neb.--brings all something of a happy ending.Read more
Another youths-in-trouble film, in a vein
similar to that of this past winter's "Heavenly
Creatures" and the current "Kids," "Fun"
(adapted by James Bosley from his stage
play) carries an impact that is primarily limited
to the fine performances of its two leads. Alicia
Witt and Renee Humphrey portray Bonnie and
Hillary, a duo of innocent-looking teenage girls
who murder an old woman--just for kicks, or
so they insist. Seeking a different cause for
the crime is a jaded social worker (Leslie
Hope) and an unctuous tabloid journalist
The film's color segments, jerkily shot and then speeded up to convey both the exuberance of the girls' fast-budding friendship and the fun-filled day of the murder, are compelling and disturbing.
Watching ³The Living Sea² feels like a pleasant swim through safe water, an underwater fantasia where the creatures' sinewy ballets move in time to the music. Sting's Caribbean score suggests ³Under the Sea² from ³The Little Mermaid.²
Really more a tone poem than a movie, more beautiful than interesting, the film is nonjudgmental almost to a fault: a stream of consciousness reminiscence of the ocean's memories, or those of a filmmaker who loves the sea like a person. Some of the movie's best sequences are surfing footage--which is not surprising, given that the director here is Greg MacGillivray (Imax's ³Into the Deep²), who began his career documenting rip curls in his California seaside hometown of Corona del Mar.
At first glance, one may wonder why Czech director Karel Kachyna chose to make this 1993 film. What was so important about the life of a man, referred to as "the lowest of the low," living in a remote mountain village of Czechoslovakia? The main character, Adam, is a prostitute's simple-minded son (Radek Holub) who sells his precious cow to pay for his dying mother's morphine. After her death, further despair and abject poverty take hold as Adam struggles to survive in his terribly cruel existence.
However, what starts out as something akin to film noir gradually takes on a different life with the arrival of Rosa (Alena Mihulova), a young prostitute who takes pity on Adam. Her introduction into his world and their ensuing struggles awaken the young man's spirit.