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Archive for September 26th, 2012

63. Stardust Memories

by John Greco

When I saw Stardust Memories for the first time back in 1980 (Baronet Theater in Manhattan) I was completely lost as to what Woody Allen was doing. Filled with Fellini like imagery, bizarre inhabitants straight out of Diane Arbus and seemingly resentful, bitter attacks on his fans. I found the film, to say the least, hard to swallow. I wasn’t and am not one of those folks who keep wishing Woody would trek back to his ‘funny’ early films. I actually relished his celluloid journey, his growth from dubbing a cheesy Japanese spy flick with completely new dialogue turning it into “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?’ through his early visually clumsy, but oh so funny, films like Take The Money and Run and Bananas to his classic Annie Hall and on to the Bergman like Interiors and the homage to his home town in Manhattan. Woody always seemed to be expanding his artistic horizons. At the time of its original release, I chalked up Stardust Memories as a failure, hell everyone is entitled to a failure now and then, right?

Now, let me just say here, I watch many of Woody’s film all the time, over and over, true some more than others, I have lost count on how many times I have seen Manhattan, Bananas, Sleeper, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Annie Hall,  Hannah and Her Sisters, Broadway Danny Rose and so on. His films are like old friends with whom you gladly sit, have a drink, and reminisce about those days gone by. The one film I never went back to was “Stardust Memories.” Frankly, until I watched it for the first time in years, just a few months ago, I remembered little about it except for the feeling of confusion I had and a why bother attitude about taking a second look. One day I found a copy at a local library and for no particular reason decided to give it another shot. All I can say is hallelujah brother! I have been seen the light and have been converted! (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

As I said in the earlier edition, I will review in one paragraph all those asian films of 2012 that are not as writing-enducing as others that I’ve covered in the past editions of this half-monthly column, and as I say that I must say that I have a lot of films to cover, but I’ll divide it by two, so you’ll have this second and a third edition in two weeks time covering a total of eight films in capsule reviews of a paragraph or whatever I can come up with, so without further ado, let’s dive right into the industry of films.

Bao dao shuang xiong (2012)

a.k.a. Double Trouble

director Hsun-Wei David Chang

Taiwan, China, 87 min

Many know and love the films where Jackie Chan stars, fights and sometimes even directs. His films are filled with some incredible stagey acts and crazy stunts, while also maintaining some kind of humour about it, making it the best slapstic humour from anywhere in the world for almost two decades, he was a modern Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplin for those who wanted to see him in that way . Now it seems that his son, Jaycee Chan, has taken the crown from his own father to continue doing this amazing kind of films of great spectacle and big budgets from the asian land of the kung fu and martial arts. Now, I just wish that he had a better spotlight and a better director to make his films any good. This ‘Double Trouble’ focuses on two guys, one is a chinese policeman taking his vacation in Taiwan and the other is a museum guard from Taiwan that is protecting one of the most ancient and important surviving treasures of the chinese culture (for those in the know, most of the chinese ancient culture can only be found in Taiwan after Mao’s smart move to destroy everything that reminded them of the glourious days of the chinese empire). So, making it short and sweet, the ancient scroll is robbed, and it is the job for this guard to look for it, because he thinks he’s guilty. He finds himself tied to this free policeman, due to the fact that he is detained by the guard due to his involvement in the robbery (he inarvetedly helped the two girls who robbed the scroll). So, this action adventure may have been great and interesting if it were any political about the issues that are at hand (Taiwan and China have a harsh history), and instead it just wants to have nice car chases and coreographed fights, that may be fun, but when the focus is not so much on Jaycee all the time, the film looses its strenghts (those little that it had) and aims for a bigger scope and range of characters, that end up in over-acting and innecesary twists. Still, there are some good scenes and sequences, specially one involving two girls on motorcycles and a bus filled with turists. (Rating: ***)

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