Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Wes Anderson has several commonalities in his small but sublimely perfect body of work. His films are always about boys in their self-contained, almost hermetically sealed little worlds which are meticulously whimsical fantasies, (some would say, at worst, purposefully off-putting denials of reality). This is always combined with a role of the paternal father figure, who often is more immature than the boy.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is signature Anderson. Zissou is the paternal figure to his Team of oceanographic explorers / filmmakers while simultaneously being the most spoiled and selfish of little boys. Hehas the best toys of all of Andersons films, including a Submarine with his ex-wife's name painted on the side, and visibly crossed out, as well as a large sea-going vessel equipped with sauna and film-editing room. Zissou's world is even more self-contained than that of the Rusmore school, the Tenenbaums New York home, or the suburban upper-middle class neighborhood in Bottle Rocket.
The richly realized fantasy of Steve Zissou's world (complete with several moments of delicious artifice, many courtesy of master animator Henry Selick, but the key one, a walk-through of a cross-section of his boat, built at the Italian Studio Cinecittà), and the complexity of his character make this film an immersive experience. A pirate shootout, which concludes with a stealth-mission assault on a crumbling tropical hotel make it fun. And Steve's relationship with his wife, his long-lost son, and a pregnant reporter (Cate Blanchett in top form) make it poignant.
Wes Anderson is at the top of his game right now. This film will surely be remembered (for several reasons) as his 8 ½ and I must say that Bill Murray gives a complex performance equal to that of Marcello Mastroianni. If you haven't seen the Life Aquatic, you are missing out on the best of American Cinema.

Tonite, you can remedy this by showing up at 8:30 for a showtime start. Come by a little earlier for a drink if you like. I've even got the trailer for Murry's next film with Jim Jarmusch, Broken Flowers.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


A Tale of Two Sisters is comfortably the best horror film to come out of the recent Asian horror boom, often referred to as J-Horror. Perhaps due to the wave of Japanese horror films which are constantly being remade in the United States (The Ring, Dark Water, Ju-On, Kaïro), I find it fitting that the 'best in show' is actually from South Korea, a country which has been experiencing such a vibrant explosion of cinema over the past several years.
A Tale of Two Sisters is based on a Korean folk tale, but set in modern times. It tells the story of twin girls, Bae Soo-mi and Bae Soo-yeon, who come to live with their father and step-mother at the cottage. The step mother is of course, of the wicked variety, who delights in torturing the girls both with an arched eyebrow, and a biting lecture. But this element of the story is not that simple. There is a ghost haunting the house, which true to J-Horror standards, is the black haired dead-girl made famous in Ringu. Things are not simple there either.
Like nearly all great horror pictures, there is a lot of things lurking beneath the surface of the story. Here, it is feminity, fertility, sexual maturation, and domestic territorial dominance. The film oozes with unspoken mind-games. The only man in the house is quite cuckolded.
Be washed over and enticed by the lush cinematography, lulled by the languid pace, unsettled in the best kind of way, and genuinely surprised by this modern masterpiece.

As this is somewhat of a celabration of the 30th KBT, come by at 8:00pm for a glass of Vintage Port, cheese and berries. Showtime at 8:30pm.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


After approximately a months hiatus, KBT Returns! On offer tonite is a Russian sci-fi thriller based on the book of the same name, and 2004s entry into the Foreign Film Oscar nomination race (it wasn't nominated). It is usually cause for worry when a film begins with multiple prologues and this film has two of them. The first begins with a mythic battle between good and evil armies in the centre of a narrow bridge that immediately conjures up comparisons to the big army shots in Lord of the Rings. The second is thousands of years later when a schlub of a man goes to a fortune teller and finds out that his wife will leave him for another man because she is pregnant by her. The very helpful fortune teller offers to kill the fetus in the mother for an extra fee and one other condition...that the man will take responsibility for his actions in the afterlife. Weirdness ensues as we get a peek behind the supernatural curtain. Flash forward 12 years and the story of Mages, Vampires and Shapeshifters in some major Russian Urban centre battling it out before a prophecy is fulfilled. It's somewhere between Underworld (crap that that film was...) and The Highlander (a genre classic) but with a lot more blood than either. This ain't Harry Potter!
Add this to the release of France's Immortel, China's Zu Warriors and you are beginning to get the sense that the rest of the world wants to make big explosive genre pics like Hollywood has been turning out since Star Wars. I don't know if this is a good thing, but Nightwatch has such a twisted and organic sensibility. It is squishy, bloody and twisted like a good Cronenberg film, but without the subtext.
This is pretty straight-up plot driven story telling, and it occupies with its visual candy, for its 2 hour run time. Then you find out that there is a cliff-hanger ending and two more chapters to come (again, comparisons to Lord of the Rings). Forget nice-pat story telling or a particularly coherent narrative and just go with the flow.

Tuesday Night, 8:30pm show time (and a pre-show cocktail at 8pm).