From the Chicago Reader (June 2, 1989). — J.R.
INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE * (Has redeeming facet)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Jeffrey Boam, George Lucas, and Menno Meyjes
With Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, River Phoenix, Denholm Elliott, Alison Doody,
Julian Glover, and John Rhys-Davies.
Nazis are fun! Jesus is fun! Arthurian legends are fun! Third world countries are fun! Caves are fun! The Holy Grail is fun! Lots of snakes and rats and skeletons are fun! Chases are fun! Narrow escapes are fun! Explosions are fun! Indiana Jones is fun! Indiana Jones’s father is fun!
Put them all together and you get the third panel in Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’s Indiana Jones triptych — more fun than a barrel of monkeys (or Nazis, chalices, snakes, rats, skeletons — whatever). Though Hitler, Jesus, women, the third world, and, by implication, most of the rest of civilization ultimately take a backseat to the uneasy yet affectionate relationship between a grown boy and his dad — and all those millions of people exterminated by the Nazis (for instance) don’t even warrant so much as a look-in — this is nothing new in the Lucas-Spielberg canon; it isn’t even anything new in movies.… Read more »
From the Chicago Reader (August 6, 2004). — J.R.
The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi
*** (A must-see)
Directed and written by Takeshi Kitano
With “Beat” Takeshi [Kitano], Tadanobu Asano, Michiyo Ookusu, Yui Natsukawa, and Gadarukaru Taka.
*** (A must-see)
Directed by Michael Mann
Written by Stuart Beattie
With Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Javier Bardem, Bruce McGill, and Irma P. Hall.
What do Takeshi Kitano’s Zatoichi and Michael Mann’s Collateral, both opening this week, have in common? Judging by what some of my colleagues have been saying, they’re both effective action movies directed by talented genre specialists. But I would argue that this description applies only to Collateral.
Although Mann stretched himself somewhat with Ali, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Insider, he’s first and foremost a maker of adroit crime thrillers: Thief, Manhunter, Heat, and now Collateral. Kitano, on the other hand, is actually an adventurous director of art movies who periodically defaults to the crime genre in order to finance his other projects. In this respect he resembles Clint Eastwood, who, since emerging as an auteur in his own right, has alternated between making action movies for the studio and art movies for himself.… Read more »