Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Here is a fascinating confection of a film, cotton candy laced with arsenic. A La Folie...Pas Du Tout (or it's Engish title of He Loves Me...He Loves Me Not) starts out as another glossy romantic adventure of Audrey Tautou in full Amélie Poulain mode, only a tad tackier. However, with a puzzle-box plot and some unusual narrative techniques, it ends up venturing down corridors not often explored in a bubbly romance.

Angélique (Taotou) loves Loïc (the superb Samuel Le Bihan who was also the lead in Les Pacte des Loups) enough that she can never quite stop from smiling, and this infectious charm rubs off on everyone around her. She can convince easily a florist to go against delivery policy with only a smile and have a single rose delivered because of true love. But Loïc is a married man, and is having trouble leaving his wife. That is OK, because Angélique is a patient woman, secure in her love for her man. They will meet in private, go to Florence for a surreptitious vacation until he works up the courage to dump his wife, or his wife finds out about their relationship. Letters and gifts abound while Angélique house-sits for the summer and pursues an Art scholarship. Things get bad when Loïc's wife gets pregnant to further bind Loïc to his matrimonial vows. What's a girl to do?

A La Folie...Pas Du Tout is a hard film to talk about without veering into spoiler territory. The facile summary would be to label it as the combined DNA of Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, He Said, She Said and Fatal Attraction. I've seen the concept of showing the same film twice from two different perspectives a couple times (He Said, She Said, Sliding Doors, Lola Rennt and a humorous episode of the X-Files guest starring Luke Wilson) but I can't say that I've seen this somewhat gimmicky technique used more effectively than by 27 year old director (at the time) Laetitia Colombani. Playing with genre cliches, truth and audience exepectation takes a delicate hand, and admittedly, some of the cinematic hocus-pocus is a bit flawed and the occasional plot hole rears up. But the film has a truck load of ambition and in any sort of wistful romantic film, that is worth quite a bit. A La Folie...Pas Du Tout mines the dark side of love, passion, and frankly, delusion, in an entertaining, delicately crafted and stylish package.

Come out Tuesday Night and enjoy. As per usual, it is cocktails at 8:00pm, and showtime at 8:30pm (with a film trailer or two). Bring a date!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

KBT Presents: SAFE

Are you allergic to the 20th Century?

In Todd Haynes’ significantly overlooked 1995 film it is quite possible that Carol may indeed be allergic to living in the modern world. Carol is quiet, unassuming, and to be honest, more than a bit vapid. She does not smoke, drink, or pop pills, in fact she refers to herself as a milkoholic. She is the second wife of a well-off executive-type and stepmother to his young boy. She keeps the upscale California household running by telling the various maids and such what to do. Other than that, exercise classes, visits to the salon, and ordering furniture pretty much round off her existence. So unnoticed and uninvolved, she practically blends into the wallpaper, even while having sex with her husband!

When she begins to mysteriously ill (trust me, you will never look at getting a perm the same way again), and her doctor asserts multiple times that nothing is wrong medically, nobody knows how to react. Blame and frustration from her husband, casual ostracization from her social circle, but perhaps most significantly, a confused victim hood from herself. Salvation lies (of all places) in an infomercial from a benevolent clinic in the middle of the Texas desert which helps people who are, in fact, allergic to modern living.

While both the concept and the plot may sound like a Movie-of-The-Week, director Todd Haynes approach to the film is most certainly not. Safe is part pitch-black satire of the shallow 1980s rich California 'modern living' lifestyle (Yes, the movie was made in the 90s and set in the 80s), part anxious melodrama (even bordering on horror), and lastly, (not too subtly buried in the subtext) part AIDS allegory. The film itself never fully makes any judgements on what is really the cause or the cure, instead opting to leave everything open to interpretation. Thus, Safe takes the exact opposite approach of the typical Movie-of-The-Week that generally has more answers than questions.

Julianne Moore, just graduating from cliched supporting roles in junk like The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and Body of Evidence and into more interesting films like Short Cuts and Boogie Nights, brings an effective sense of creeping panic to the role, but also allows the bleakly comic tone of the film to come through as well.

Come by tonite (Tuesday November 22nd) and check out this non-typical drama. Drinks 8pm. Trailers 8:15. Showtime 8:30ish.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Following last weeks screening of True Romance and continuing with light and fluffy films which serve to entertain and entertain only, comes a special spousal-unit (LJ) selected movie: Big Trouble. Director Barry Sonnenfeld is no stranger to large ensemble comedies, having previously made the The Addams Family films and Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty. Here he is working with an larger cast than either of those films, and a novel by Miami Herald columnist/humourist/pulitzer-winner Dave Berry.

Big Trouble follows, well, a lot of folks. Jason Lee plays a homeless man (and narrator) living in a Miami businessman's tree. He eats Doritoes and falls in love with the maid (Sofía Vergara). The rich man (Stanley Tucci) is in the process of buying a Thermonuclear weapon in a suitcase. There are hitmen (Dennis Farina and Jack Kehler) trying to kill him, and thieves (Johnny Knoxville and Tom Sizemore) stumble in during the buy. His daughter (a very droll Zooey Deschanel) is the also targeted for a hit (of sorts) from her classmate (Ben Foster) in a game of involving sniping by super-soaker. This game brings in two cops (Patrick Warburton and Janeane Garofalo) who mistake the squirt gun for an actual fire-arm. The classmates dad (Tim Allen) is called and comes over to fall in love with rich businessman's wife (Rene Russo in hot-pants) . With me so far? Well the FBI (Omar Epps and Dwight 'Heavy D' Myers) are also interested in the traffiking of nuclear weaponry and come in just as the entire cast begins to butt up against one another. And what nuclear weapons comedy would be complete without a cameo from Martha Stewart?

Like a piece of good stand-up comedy (or an episode of Seinfeld), there is somewhat a long build-up, introducing elements and characters. This begins to pay off around the half-way mark, as Berry's tidbits of Miami-life and situations begin to come together. It's all the little details which keep repeating themselves to become funny as the film progresses: an annoying morning radio show which seems to be on 24 hours a day, everyone seems to know so much about nature (all from watching the Discovery Channel), in fact the sheer number of animals in the film which get worked into the proceedings, including a hallucinogenic frog and a nearly flying goat at one point.

The film was completely crushed by the events of September 11, 2001. Big Trouble was to be released in October of that year, but was moved to early 2002. Even after several months, people didn't want to see a film which played for laughs the smuggling of a nuclear device through incompetent airline security on a plane into the United States. It's a shame really, because there is a terrific cast of B- and C- list actors who share the screen nicely together, with no one performance dominating the others. Dennis Farina and Jack Kehler playing the out-of-town hitmen have a couple great bits of dialogue and being non-Miami locals bear the brunt of the quirky-annoying Florida subculture, which Berry has a field-day spoofing.

Come out Tuesday Night for some overlooked lightweight fun. Drinks at 8:00pm, Trailers & Showtime at 8:30pm.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


True Romance features one of the best scenes in film of the 1990s. Dennis Hopper is protecting his son, Clarence, by not telling the mob that Clarence has fled to Hollywood with a suitcase of the Sicilian Mobs cocaine. Christopher Walken is one of the Mob heavies who is about to get medieval on his ass for the information. Hopper knows he is dead either way, so to prevent any further torture and to avoid giving up the information unwillingingly, he taunts the mobster with a vicious string of circumstances around Sicilian heritage. Hopper's body language in the scene, along with Quentin Tarantino's fantastic dialogue make not only one of the pinacle scenes of the 1990s, but also one of the best scenes in the genre, period.

And that sequence is only one of the many, many delights in this film which is an intoxicating blend of The Getaway, Wild at Heart and Reservoir Dogs. Watch it for the sheer bliss of great casting: Besides Walken and Hopper, there are also brilliant cameos from a perpetually stoned out Brad Pitt, future Soprano James Gandolfini, Saul Rubinek, Val Kilmer channelling The King, and mondo creepy Gary Oldman (and a blink and you'll miss him, Samuel L. Jackson), all of whom (except Jackson) get at least one great scene.

The film follows Clarence (Christian Slater giving his career-best performance, even better than what he is perhaps best known for: Heathers) and his ex-prostitute girlfriend (Patricia Arquette). They luck into a suitcase of mob-drugs after Clarence has a showdown with her pimp. This sets into motion a series of chases, schemes and one mother of a mexican stand-off in the living room of a big-shot hollywood producer.

True Romance is also (easily) the best from from director Tony Scott, who has alway sat a bit in his brother Ridley's shadow; certainly in terms of any sort of auteur status (although with the inconsistency of Ridley's later career, that is certainly debatable). While Ridley Scott was making blockbuster cinematic landmarks Alien and Blade Runner, Tony was making TV commercials. He has always been an action director first and a macho one at that. True Romance is sandwiched in between his testosterone-overload-vaguely-homo-erotic-phase of Top Gun and The Last Boy Scout and his current frentitic everything-including-the-kitchen-sink stylistic overload phase of Beat the Devil, Man on Fire and Domino . Romance benefits significnatly from what was Quentin Tarantino's first sold script (the money earned here went on to make Tarantino's directorial debut Reservoir Dogs). Even though the direction style is very much Tony Scott, Tarantino's dialogue and cinematic tastes leave unmissible fingerprints over every inch of film: Blacksploitation, Hong Kong Action, Sonny Chiba, Spaghetti_Western and Elvis references are sprinkled throughout the action in both obvious and subtle ways.

Whether you have seen the film or not, True Romance deserves to be watched! For pure high-octane entertainment, there aren't many films that even come close.