Monthly Archives: June 1990

American Stories

Chantal Akerman’s compendium of Jewish jokes, filmed in English in a vacant lot in Brooklyn, with a cast that includes Eszter Balint (Stranger Than Paradise), Judith Malina, and Max Brandt. It’s not as visually striking as most of Akerman’s work, and the jokes often don’t come across as funny, but it’s steeped in the brooding melancholia and the nocturnal, insomniac ambiance of Toute une nuit, one of her best films. Fans of Akerman’s work won’t want to miss this; its distinctive bittersweet taste lingers (1989). (JR) Read more

Total Recall

Although I haven’t read the Phillip K. Dick story (“I Can Remember It for You Wholesale”) that this is derived from, this loud, fast, bone-crunching SF action thriller has at least two of the virtues of much good SF in print: the creation of a foreign (if vaguely familiar) landscape and the alienated sensation of displacement. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a construction worker in the year 2084 who discovers that he’s been implanted with both false memories and a false identity; he has to make it to Mars–now colonized and controlled by greedy capitalists who create and abuse mutants through their control of the air–in order to clear things up. A worthy entry in the dystopian cycle of SF movies launched by Blade Runner (including The Terminator and Robocop), this seems less derivative than most of its predecessors while being just as accomplished as straight ahead story telling, with plenty of provocative satiric undertones and scenic details. Paul Verhoeven (Robocop) directs from a script by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon (Dark Star), Gary Goldman, and Jon Povill; with Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Mel Johnson Jr., and Ronny Cox, not to mention 68 stunt people, some swell production design, and Rob Bottin’s gory makeup. Read more