From the Chicago Reader (January 29, 1993). Since writing this, I’ve come to like Basic Instinct much more than I did. — J.R.
BODY OF EVIDENCE
* (Has redeeming facet)
Directed by Uli Edel
Written by Brad Mirman
With Madonna, Willem Dafoe, Joe Mantegna, Anne Archer, Julianne Moore, Stan Shaw, Charles Hallahan, Lillian Lehman, Mark Rolston, Jeff Perry, and Jurgen Prochnow.
* (Has redeeming facet
Directed by Louis Malle
Written by David Hare
With Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche, Miranda Richardson, Rupert Graves, Ian Bannen, Leslie Caron, Peter Stormare, Gemma Clark, and Julian Fellowes.
The pointed absence of scenes of sexual intercourse in such recent releases seemingly calling for them as The Crying Game, The Hours and Times, and Scent of a Woman is curious when weighed against a tendency in some other movies, including two that opened recently, to highlight transgressive or dangerous sex. In Body of Evidence it’s not only bondage and sadomasochism but sex leading to the male partner’s cardiac arrest, an effect the female partner may have intended. In Damage it’s not only illicit sex between an older, prominent government official and his son’s fiancee, who has incest in her past, but also the unconventionality of their couplings: they often remain partly clothed, and the positions they assume border on the pretzellike. Read more
From the Chicago Reader (October 1, 2007). — J.R.
If you were delighted by the euphoric cynicism about corruption in L.A. Confidential and Chicago (I wasn’t), you probably should make a beeline for Joel and Ethan Coen’s brittle farce about corruption in divorce proceedings, in which hotshot lawyer George Clooney and professional divorcee Catherine Zeta-Jones are too busy screwing each other in the courts to show much interest in actual sex. Buffing up a script they’d worked on eight years earlier with Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone, and John Romano, the Coens do an efficient job of stamping their signature grotesquerie on sumptuous Beverly Hills and Las Vegas settings and ladling on gallows humor and malice, sometimes with the verve of early Robert Zemeckis. Geoffrey Rush, Cedric the Entertainer, Billy Bob Thornton, Edward Herrmann, and Richard Jenkins round out the gallery of cartoon fools. PG-13, 100 min. (JR)
From the Chicago Reader (August 26, 1988). — J.R.
Directed and written by Jon Jost.
The film essay, as opposed to the documentary, remains in some respects the most neglected of contemporary film genres, by filmmakers and audiences alike, perhaps because it is seldom acknowledged as a film form at all. The only recent mainstream examples that come to mind are the first two parts of Godfrey Reggio’s trilogy, Koyaanisqatsi (1983) and Powaqqatsi (1988). As an English reviewer remarked of Koyaanisqatsi — a film that, incidentally, owed most of its exposure to Francis Ford Coppola’s distribution — “Its vainglorious appeal as a ‘new cinematic experience’ is really to an audience that would rather be open-mouthed than open-minded.” I found its glib borrowings from the avant-garde so irritating that I had no sense of regret about missing its sequel.
On the other hand, the most masterful examples I can think of from the last two decades — Orson Welles’s F for Fake (1973) and Chris Marker’s Sans soleil (1982) — both flopped commercially in this country. And most of the other distinguished examples from the 70s and 80s seem to appear only on the experimental film circuits: Trinh T. Min-ha’s Reassemblage (1982) and Naked Spaces (1985), Chicago filmmaker Peter Thompson’s Universal Hotel/Universal Citizen (1986-87; available on tape at Facets), Jane Campion’s 1984 Passionless Moments (which showed at the Film Center last weekend), and Jon Jost’s Speaking Directly: Some American Notes (1973; also available on tape at Facets). Read more