Black Rain

Black Rain illuminates Bullitt, with a setting of Yakuzas in conflict. Not a cold-blooded politician and informer but a striking characterization based on the Kabuki mie threatens the old order. New York cops annul the one and clip the wings of the other, leaving what? Ken Takakura, a great actor.


Thelma & Louise

Thelma & Louise oddly combines elements of two films which as far as I know were screened at UCLA’s Melnitz Hall in Los Angeles, possibly on the same night, and nowhere else.

The two girls come from Rosemarie Turko’s Red on Red, which I took to be a thesis, and the finish from János Rózsa’s Mascot (Kabala). At the coffee machine outside, I made a few disparaging remarks and turned to find Mr. Rózsa’s English in full blush (what’s the Hungarian for “brick,” I still wonder).


G.I. Jane

Falconetti died for your sins.



“That’s enough for the provinces,” as Oliver Reed is made to say in this film, “but not for Rome.”

The essence of Hollywood’s problem is to be found in Michael Mann’s description of Russell Crowe as a young Marlon Brando.

Which is to say, Hollywood’s being run by nincompoops, and not to say that Crowe isn’t a reduced Anthony Hopkins with a note of Stephen Boyd (Joaquin Phoenix enlivens much of his scenes with a little Brando parody of his own), nor that Reed, Harris, Jacobi, Hemmings and Shrapnel aren’t walk-ons worth not walking out at a run.

The technical incompetence is particularly surprising. It’s very close to Saving Private Ryan in its sham effects, “strobe” on movement, bad cutting, and of course there is the faux orchestral score. The computer animations mitigate none of this.

I would like to believe that the producers skimped on retakes and recut it themselves, but it’s more likely that Gladiator simply reflects the decline of American cinema in its most rudimentary aspects. They make films as bad as this all around the world, but they very wisely don’t spend as much money on them.

Nonetheless, it made what Mel Brooks in Life Stinks calls “a shitload of money,” and the Academy thought so highly of it they gave it the Best Picture Oscar in 2001. Hell, they named Russell Crowe Best Actor, too.

Someone noticed the Spielberg resemblance and made a sex flick called The Private Gladiator, which doubtless has a better script.

Ave, Gluteus Maximus!