At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
May is “The Month of Funny Little Things” at Film Space.
Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. For the roof, you might want to bring something to sit on or lie on. And, if on the roof, the start might be delayed while everyone waits for it to get darker. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.
At Film Space Saturday, May 9: Little Miss Sunshine (2006) Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris – 101 mins – US, Comedy/ Drama. Generally favorable reviews: 80/77 out of 100. Rated R in the US for language, some sex and drug content.
A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus. Won two Oscars: best supporting actor (Alan Arkin); and best original screenplay, Michael Arndt. Nominated for two more.
Reel Views, James Berardinelli: It takes a deft hand to fashion a feel-good movie with plenty of laughs and an upbeat ending out of a story that includes drug addiction, a suicide attempt, a death, Nietzsche, and Proust. Despite treading through a minefield of tone shifts, co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and writer Michael Arndt reach the other side unscathed. Little Miss Sunshine is a small gem - or, considering the inclusion of hot star Steve Carell and the $10 million price tag paid by Fox Searchlight to acquire the distribution rights, perhaps not so "small." Smiles will be in evidence on the faces of audience members exiting a showing of this movie.
Rotten Tomatoes: What happens when you stuff a failed motivation speaker, his wife, the nation's number one Proust scholar, an elderly potty-mouthed heroin addict, a teen who’s mute by choice, and a bespectacled little pageant hopeful into a mini VW bus for a three day road trip? You get this hilarious but moving satire about a dysfunctional family obsessed with winning. Credit must go to the ensemble cast that includes Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, and Abigail Breslin and the delightfully funny script by Michael Arndt, which first-time directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris handled perfectly.
At Film Space Saturday, May 16: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001) Michael Rauch – 76 mins – US, Comedy. A film record of Eric Bogosian's one man show at the Jane Street Theatre, a Greenwich Village nightclub.
DVD Verdict: Bogosian has only two props: a chair and microphone. There's a silvery black cinderblock wall as the backdrop; two panels on each side provide for shadowy and evocative projections. Simple, and necessarily off-Broadway cheap. But he uses these tools to span time and vent "the main component in my life: anger." He imagines a "dude" Christ, hanging on the cross — "Ironic, because he was a carpenter, right?" — thinking about "those 12 deadbeats I hung out with who never picked up the check." Then he jolts us to the present, asking, "If this is what God did to His own kid, do you really think He's going to give a damn about your sorry anonymous ass? And what about your soul? When was the last time you remembered you had one?"
Bogosian goes on skewer today's self-help gurus like Deepak Chopra. "You are but one stitch in the vast carpet of the universe, one grain of sand in the endless Sahara of the cosmos, one hair on the butt of a gorilla. Yet we all ask the eternal question: How do I get more money? And that is why I am here tonight. Each of you must give me $200 in four easy installments…" This neatly segues into an angry rant about climbing the corporate ladder—"from the lowest beggar in Calcutta all the way up to Steven Spielberg" — and becoming successful and famous. "My death would make the headlines! Yeah, and maybe some baby girl has starved to death in her crib somewhere, and she's covered with cigarette burns. But who cares…because she was a nobody." Bogosian knows how to prime his audience with some chuckles, and then goad them into a few uneasy laughs.
IMDb viewer: Bogosian is one of the most important playwrights of his generation, a NY fixture in the off-Broadway theater scene, a Guggenheim fellowship guy, and a multi-talented individual. The modern-day Lenny Bruce, or as close as we're gonna get anyway. I highly recommend checking out Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. It's an acerbic and accurate portrayal of modern society and post-consumerism humanity in general. It was originally performed during the last years of the Clinton administration, and thus obviously pre-9/11, but most of it is not dated at all. Bogosian's satire remains topical and dead-on most of the time. His riffs on religion, fame, materialism, psychotherapy etc. are definitely an example of someone who is trying to "keep it real" while conscious of his own limitations and susceptibility to frauds like Deepak Chopra. This DVD is basically a filmed version of the play, filmed during what seems like a regular everyday performance at the Jane Street Theatre in Manhattan's meat-packing district. So it's not really a "film" per se. But if you like theater that is thought-provoking, definitely check this out.
Rotten Tomatoes: Able to turn his hand to acting, writing or spoken word performances, Eric Bogosian is a versatile performer who enjoys pushing the envelope of what's expected from a Hollywood star. This release presents his solo show, in which he lays to waste a number of sacred cows, including religion, pop culture, conformity, and a whole lot more.
At Film Space Saturday, May 23: Supermarket Woman / Sûpâ no onna /スーパーの女 (1996) Juzo Itami – 127 mins – Japan, Comedy.
This is a 1996 Japanese comedy/ romance film written and directed by Juzo Itami, who was an actor before becoming a popular modern Japanese film director. Many critics came to regard him as Japan's greatest director since Akira Kurosawa. His 10 movies, all of which he wrote himself, are comic satires on elements of Japanese culture. He died in December 1997, under circumstances not fully explained – possibly suicide, possibly murder.
The film stars Juzo's wife and regular leading-lady Nobuko Miyamoto as a woman who is hired by a failing supermarket to help it compete against an aggressive local rival. Another frequent star of Juzo's films, Masahiko Tsugawa, plays her boss and later romantic interest.
Supermarket Woman was nominated for six Japanese Academy Awards in 1997, including Best Film, Director, and Actress, but did not win in any categories.