Daily Archives: August 6, 2004

Zhou Yu’s Train

Like some of Joan Crawford’s and Bette Davis’s studio vehicles, this soapy romance exists only for what Gong Li can bring to it: a certain amount of soul and nuance. What it brings to her, by contrast, is dubious. She plays a ceramic painter who travels by train every weekend to visit her retiring poet boyfriend (Tony Leung Ka Fai) and on one trip meets a veterinarian who tries to woo her. Writer-director Sun Zhou costarred with Gong in The Emperor and the Assassin and directed her in Breaking the Silence; his achronological narrative is daring, but his execution is too reminiscent of arty TV commercials, and casting Gong in a smaller second role only confuses matters. In Mandarin with subtitles. 106 min. (JR) Read more

The Pirates Of Capri

The highly resourceful low-budget director Edgar G. Ulmer directed this 1949 adventure film in Italy. With Louis Hayward and Binnie Barnes. 94 min. (JR) Read more

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi

How does one perpetuate the longest-running samurai action series–which yielded 26 films and over a hundred TV episodes starring the late Shintaro Katsu as a blind, sword-wielding masseur–without belaboring it? Comic writer-director-star Takeshi Kitano does it by playing stylistic games with the material, until his apparent boredom with the genre is overtaken by his art-movie sensibility. There are geysers of blood, ESP, infantile gags, weird formal ideas about sound and editing, and half-jeering references to Akira Kurosawa. By the end, when Kitano closes with a tap-dancing musical number, the genre has been ridiculed nearly out of existence, but the sense of childlike exhilaration transcends irony. In Japanese with subtitles. 116 min. Reviewed this week in Section One. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark’s Century Centre. Read more


Transpiring over a ten-hour nocturnal stretch in diverse Los Angeles locations, this engaging crime thriller by Michael Mann often suggests a low-budget 40s noir blown up to blockbuster proportions, an enlargement carried out with relative ease. An efficient if dreamy cabdriver (Jamie Foxx) picks up a hit man (Tom Cruise) who forces the cabbie to chauffeur him on his rounds to bump off five key witnesses in a drug case. Stuart Beattie’s script never strays far from genre expectations, but the ensuing picaresque adventures are lively, and there’s an undeniable grace and comfort in the way Mann puts the actors through their paces. With Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Peter Berg, and Irma P. Hall. R. Reviewed this week in Section One. Burnham Plaza, Century 12 and CineArts 6, Chatham 14, Crown Village 18, Davis, Ford City, Gardens 1-6, Golf Glen, Lake, Lawndale, Lincoln Village, Norridge, River East 21, 62nd & Western, Village North, Webster Place, Wilmette. Read more