“Plot”: Slaying the Dragon looks at how stereotypes about Asians, especially Asian women, shaped their portrayal in Hollywood movies and vice versa. Trying to outline the major tropes, female and male actors are interviewed and films examined. 23 years later, Slaying the Dragon updates that documentary and looks at how films have – and have not – changed in the meantime.
Both documentaries are insightful, making clear statements about representation and how movies affect the world beyond the screen as well. They’re an excellent primer to recognize problematic characterizations and offer a succinct explanation of why they’re problematic.
Plot: One night in a small town hospital in Jupiter Hollow, two very different pairs of parents each have a set of twin girls. In the confusion, two babies get switched. 40 years later, Rose (Lily Tomlin) and Sadie Shelton (Bette Midler) have taken over the family company in New York that still owns a company in Jupiter Hollow. But they want to sell it. Rose (Lily Tomlin) and Sadie Ratcliff (Bette Midler) who grew up in a poor family in Jupiter Hollow and know that the entire town depends on the local company not being sold, decide to go to New York to confront the Sheltons and stop the sale. But given the circumstances around their birth, things are bound to get very confusing.
Big Business is one of my total-flashback-to-my-childhood movies. I think we had a VHS tape with Big Business and Ruthless People (for the Bette Midler double whammy) and it feels like we watched it once a week. We probably didn’t because TV time was very limited, but I’m sure I’ve seen the film a lot, although I haven’t seen it in 20 years, if not more. I definitely never saw it as an adult or in English. So, even though everything was very familiar about the film, it was also a very different experience. I might not love it as much anymore as I did as a child, but it is still very entertaining.
Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is being chased by the police, particularly Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon). He flees into a toystore where he’s shot. But Charles is versed in voodoo – and manages to transfer his soul into one of the Good Guy dolls on sale. Through some twists of fate, the doll ends up with Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) who got the doll for her son Andy (Alex Vincent). Just because he lives in a doll, though, Charles hasn’t left behind his murderous ways – and he needs an actual human body soon, before he turns into the doll he possesses.
When it was announced that they would show the latest “Chucky” film at the /slash Filmfestival this year, I knew I had to get started on closing that particular gap in my horror movie knowledge. Child’s Play, then, wasn’t bad, though the reason for the cult status of the series didn’t become apparent to me.
Lenz (Albert Paulus) works as a massage therapist in a town that lives off the sanatorium / spa business. But the town has seen its heyday and the few rich guests that make their way there anymore only barely keep Lenz and his family afloat. Therefore he’s looking for other possibilities to earn a little money and make a better living. Or at least drown his sorrows in alcohol. As he’s just about to get laid off, young dancer Nurit (Mercedes Echerer) comes to town to get well and Lenz is appointed as her therapist. But their relationship may not stay entirely professional.
Nachsaison has a few strengths, but ultimately it didn’t work for me. Neither Lenz nor the story itself managed to keep my interest.
The Victome de Valmont (John Malkovich) and the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) are thick as thieves, united in their love to manipulate and destroy the people around them, a skill they have so artfully mastered that their ploys don’t fall back on them. Both have a new project: Valmont is trying to seduce Madame de Tourvel (MIchelle Pfeiffer) who is staying at his aunt’s (Mildred Natwick) summer home and who is widely known for her morals and her loyalty to her husband. The Marquise, on the other hand, is looking for revenge on an ex-lover who just got engaged to the naive Cécile (Uma Thurman) who has spent practically her entire life in a convent. So she enlists Valmont’s help to completely corrupt Cécile.
After having so recently seen the play that was the starting point for the film, I must say that I was very much disappointed by the movie. I thought John Malkovich was miscast and the film never really finds its step. Michelle Pfeiffer is a sparkling star in it, though.
Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O’Rourke) is sent to stay with her aunt Pat (Nancy Allen), her husband Bruce (Tom Skerritt) and their daughter Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) in the city, in a new skyscraper Bruce is currently overseeing the finishing touches on. But Reverend Kane (Nathan Davis) has followed Carol Anne even there. The strange phenomena surrouding Carol Anne are chalked up to psychosis by her school psychologist (Richard Fire) – and in the meantime, Kane grows ever nearer.
The second Poltergeist film already couldn’t hold a candle to the first, but the third is a big step down from even that. Nothing about it worked for me.
Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a TV producer. Rich, successful and cynical, he always strives to find the lowest common denominator to make most people watch his station. The current project is a live version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which Frank has spiced up, among other things with show girls. But just before the show starts, Frank is visited by his dead mentor Lew Hayward (John Forsythe) who warns him that he will be visited by three (other) ghosts to try to redeem him.
Scrooged was one of the films I used to watch regularly as a child, but I didn’t see it as an adult until now (or actually December, when it was screened at a local cinema). And as usual it is fascinating how different you see a childhood film as an adult. I enjoyed it then, I enjoy it now, but apart from my interestingly selective recollection, there were just so many things I never saw before.
Paul (Vicco von Bülow) is rather middle-aged but still spends most of his time when he isn’t working as a furniture salesman with his mother (Evelyn Hamann) who cooks for him, does his laundry and expects him to play scrabble with her and her friends. But when Paul, affectionately called Pussi, meets psychologist Margarete (Katharina Brauren) he starts to show an actual interest in a woman who isn’t his mother.
Ödipussi – a pun, as you probably gathered, on the Oedipus complex – is a classic of German comedy (contrary to Austrian popular belief, Germans do have a sense of humor) and it’s wonderfully absurd. It does end weirdly but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining.
When Toto was a little boy (Salvatore Cascio), he fell in love with the cinema. Supported, if roughly, by projectionist Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) he learns about film by becoming a projectionist himself, continuing on as a teenager (Marco Leonardi). But in a small Sicilian town, there aren’t many options and Toto will have to decide what he wants from life.
Nuovo Cinema Paradiso is, for the most part, really funny and sweet. I did not appreciate the romantic subplot, but other than that I really enjoyed it.
Police officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels from New York to LA for Christmas, where his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and children have been living for the past months. But shortly after he arrives at Holly’s office Christmas party, terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) take the entire party hostage. Everybody but John, that is. With no way of contacting anybody on the outside, it’s up to John to get rid of the terrorists one by one.
I’m a little late to the party with this movie, I know. And maybe because I’m late to the party, I don’t really get what all the fuss about this film is about? I mean, yes, it’s a good action movie. There are some nice jokes. But I just didn’t think it was all that great.