241 posts categorized "Criterion Collection"

July 01, 2024

IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE — CANNES 2000

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. Punk heart still beating.

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Where Secrets Are Kept

Wong Kar Wai Tells All

By Cole Smithey

ColeSmithey.com"That era has passed. Nothing that belonged to it exists anymore."

Wong Kar Wai's masterpiece of romantic longing, emotional expression, unrequited love, and unresolved jealousy, is a cinematic poem that stretches across time and Asian social barriers.

The film's indisputable beauty radiates with a burning glow that emanates from its charismatic lead actors, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. 

Set in Hong Kong, circa 1962, shared experience of wounded romantic repression plays out between neighbors whose spouses are sharing an affair.

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The Korean War rages distant to our would-be lovers. Love is always an escape from loneliness.

A mutual decision to play out an imagined version of their spouse's affair, gives way to a simmering erotic tension barely masked by gesture, habit, and style.

Formality, dignity, and respect are unwritten rules of the couple's sexless romantic game of curiosity.

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Every atmosphere is furtive.

Secrets are kept.

Erotically tinged gemstone colors explode in carefully crafted set designs and wardrobe elements that bleed off smoke from the burning chemistry between Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung.

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Hollywood should be jealous, very jealous.

By this standard, Hollywood knows nothing of nuance.

The early '60s political and economic atmosphere of Hong Kong informs the way that Wong Kar Wai's iconic couple interact.

Public appearances are kept up.

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Erotic sparks can ignite from a spoonful of mustard shared at a restaurant table.

Lust is secondary, but just barely.

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The intimate negotiation that transpires between our star-crossed lovers takes place in an aura of negative space where things such as wallpaper designs and dress patterns set boundaries of sexual restraint.

There is a BDSM undertow to the couple's interactions. Theirs is a private code told in silences, and muted responses that no lie detector could catch.

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Although the film's ending feels rushed, it speaks to the audience as a cauterizing effort at mirroring the disjointed fragmentation of quickly passing time and far lost promise.

Epochal change has come.

Memories are lasting, especially when the romantic stakes are so deep.

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The film's impeccable soundtrack places the characters in an era of Big Band music whose standards fueled a utopic atmosphere of charm, class, and romantic connection.

You'll be humming Nat King Cole's version of "

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"In The Mood For Love" was an instant classic when it premiered at Cannes in 2000. It remains Wong Kar Wai's finest cinematic achievement.

In the words of Lou Reed, "you're over the hill, right now."

Relax, the romantic pressure is over.

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Memories are all that's left in a lover's memory box.

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Tear up the letters; they don't prove anything.

Keep your secrets.

Rated PG. 98 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

June 16, 2024

WORKING GIRLS — THE CRITERION COLLECTION

Welcome!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel. Punk heart still beating.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

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ColeSmithey.comLizzie Borden's third film, behind "Regrouping" (1979) and "Born In Flames" (1983), is a perfect chamber-piece of neo-realist social satire.

The film's feminist trappings of an '80s era Manhattan brothel provides the frame for a piercing commentary on the effects of American capitalism on women.

"Working Girls" could easily be adapted to be a modernday Broadway play.

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It would be a sensation for its timeless qualities of social, sexual, and economic truth.

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Molly (Louise Smith), a professional photographer, lives with her lesbian girlfriend when she isn't working as a sex worker in a Manhattan brothel run by a domineering madam.

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"Have you ever heard of surplus value?"

That theme line shoots like a sharp political dart when a character speaks it.

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“All workers create more value at work than they receive in wages. The extra surplus value goes into the boss’s pocket as profit.”

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Surplus value is "the surplus produced over and above what is required to survive, which is translated into profit in capitalism. Since the capitalist pays a laborer for his/her labor, the capitalist claims to own the means of production, the worker's labor-power, and even the product that is thus produced."

Female hands hold cups of coffee, count money, and remove cum-filled condoms.

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Everyone chisels; there is no place to hide.

Not Rated. 93 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

December 27, 2023

AMERICAN BOY: A PROFILE OF STEVEN PRINCE

Welcome!

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.ColeSmithey.comThis ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

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ColeSmithey.comIf you've ever seen Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" then you most likely remember the scene wherein Travis Bickle buys a slew of handguns from a savvy criminal in a hotel room. The slick black market gun salesman is played by Steven Prince. His performance is so seamless, so patient and professional that you believe him entirely.

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So it is that two years after "Taxi Driver's" release, Martin Scorsese made this fascinating document about Steven Prince, the actor that Scorsese had hired to be his driver, bodyguard, and drug connection.

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Filmed in a friend's (ostensibly) Los Angeles living room, Scorsese directs from in front of the camera while working from a handful of notes to prompt Steve to tell wild anecdotes from his eventful 30 years of living.

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A master storyteller, Steven recalls events from his days managing Neil Diamond, stage managing "Hair" in downtown Manhattan, and growing up in New York City. Clips from home movies of Steven as a kid help paint the picture.

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A couple of Steven's stories might sound familiar since Quentin Tarantino and Richard Linklater each used them in their own films.

I won't spoil any of the shock of hearing these tales for the first time, but suffice it to say any of Steven's stories would make great audition monologues for any actor willing to do his or her homework.

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"American Boy" is also a great chance to get a peek into Martin Scorsese's intimate directing style.

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I love this movie! You just might love it too!

Not Rated. 55 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

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