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Archive for October 24th, 2012

by Dean Treadway

Before its tremendously successful 1982 release, the odds were against TOOTSIE working at all. For one thing, the project, spearheaded by its star Dustin Hoffman, had gone through an endless series of script reiterations over the previous four years. Based on a Don Maguire play called WOULD I LIE TO YOU?, the original screenplay, penned in 1978, was by Charles Evans (Robert Evans’ brother and the film’s eventual co-producer), director Dick Richards and screenwriter Bob Kaufman. Then Hoffman came on-board, and handed the project off to many of the era’s sharpest comedy voices, including Larry Gelbart, Elaine May, Murray Schisgal, and Barry Levinson. By the time Hoffman and the film’s director, Sydney Pollack, were putting the pieces together, the script reportedly looked like a ragtag, mismatched pile of colored scrap paper (with even a few scenes written on napkins to complete the melange). This is rarely the optimum way for a screenplay to begin its life.

On top of this, the ultra-serious Pollack was not known for his comedy stylings, and Hoffman was, on-set, a sometimes dictatorial presence–indeed, the sort of exasperating, exacting artist he plays in the film. In TOOTSIE, his Michael Dorsey is a struggling, out-of-work actor who’s told by his agent George (Pollack, in a role Hoffman urged him to take) that he’s too difficult to work with, and that directors all across New York City are refusing his services. He’s patently unemployable. So, having accompanied his harried best friend Sandy (the superbly flustered Teri Garr) to an audition for a soap opera called “Southwest General”–an audition she loses immediately–Michael decides to don hair, dress and makeup and go into the audition as “Dorothy Michaels,” a strong-willed, Southern-accented character actress (based partially on Hoffman’s friend Polly Holliday, who memorably appeared with him in ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, and partially on Hoffman‘s aunt, who used to call him “Tootsie,” thus the film‘s title). (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

As promised last month, I shall continue with capsule reviews of a group of asian films from 2012 that didn’t caught enough interest or where I’ve already talked about their issues in other films for them to guarantee a full review. So, without further ado, let’s dwell inside the world of asian cinema and look what it’s there for us.

Che sau (2012)

a.k.a. Motorway

director Pou-Soi Cheang

Hong Kong, 90 min

This has been compared many times, either through reviews, previews, festival summaries and even blurbs about the film itself, to the american film of 2011 named ‘Drive’, one of the most critically acclaimed, and at the same time, polarizing films of the past year (alongside ‘The Tree of Life’, it was surely a year for discussion and debate). There have been articles and reviews that go point by point naming every simmilaritie and even supposed references made by this posterior effort to the earlier film. Now, while I wasn’t one of the hordes of fanatics of ‘Drive’ (I thought that the film was a good piece of filmmaking in the technical sense, and it managed to keep me somewhat interested in what was going on, but the overbearing and awkward silences, the feeling of a plot that was never really put to the ground firmly, really put me at times on the other side of the board, claiming that it wasn’t as good as everyone else was saying that it was), I can honestly say that it was a better movie than this ‘Motorway’ manages to be, mainly because it’s not original at all. ‘Drive’ had some visual and plot wise a general sense of originality (no matter how much it stole from the classic ‘The Driver’) that wasn’t seen in american films in a long time, this movie from Hong Kong just points out every cliché in the book and passes over it, boring us out of our minds, and while the visuals may seem interesting, you can always say that they were rip-offs of the earlier 2011 film (how time and influences pass). This is the story of a rookie cop that was put in the force because of his expertise managing cars, racing them fast to catch the bad guys, and once that the bad guys have escaped even if he was really fast, he has to learn again from a retiring police officer to really ride the streets the right way for him to be able to catch them. It’s so dissapointing, I expected so much more when it was compared to the american film (heck, I even expected to like it more than ‘Drive’) but it was found lacking, just for the visuals, this movie manages to catch some of your attention. (Rating: ***)
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