Underground Film Journal

Mainstream Film


Auto Focus

In a recent interview, AUTO FOCUS director Paul Schrader said that he didn’t think that his biopic of sex-crazed “Hogan’s Heroes” star Bob Crane was any more obscene than any given episode of HBO’s “Sex and the City,” and he’s probably right. “Sex and the City” can get absurdly raunchy, without even featuring any nudity.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

So, that to me was what I found so impressive about FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. To me, this movie does right what I think so many big special-effect Hollywood movies do wrong these days.

My main problem with most modern special-effect movies is that they’re almost always about just the special effects, usually along the lines of the main characters having to get away from and/or catch the special effects, whether they’re ghosts, dinosaurs, aliens or whatever.

Ghost World

I was originally going to base my review of GHOST WORLD around the fact that this film was the closest representation, in any creative medium, of the world in which I myself live. I’ve always felt that I’ve lived in a parallel universe from the rest of the world, not really fitting in anywhere or with anyone. And it just made me really happy to see that I’m not the only one who’s felt that way.

Planet of the Apes

Finally, obviously, I’m just rambling here and none of this actually has anything to do with PLANET OF THE APES. The only thing I have to say about the film is that in a real world where the horror of terrorists flying jumbo jets into the tallest buildings in New York City to pointlessly kill an untold number of innocent people, an action movie that explores the issue of slavery with about as much depth as an elementary school history textbook just plain sucks.


BULLY is based on the true story of a group of teen “non-achievers” in Florida who conspire to kill a bully who’s been abusing them. The film is also based on a book by Jim Schutze that has a fair amount of controversy surrounding it concerning the author’s seemingly fast and loose playing with the facts. It’s hard to trust the film, too. The teen characters in the film are cut from exactly the same cloth as Clark’s first film, KIDS, about vicious, promiscuous teenagers in NYC.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

A.I.: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, if you don’t know and I don’t know how you couldn’t, is about a robot “boy” who is adopted by a family in some not-too-distant future world. A husband and wife’s own son has been cryogenically frozen due to having contracted a fatal illness, so they agree to test out the first robotic child ever produced which is also the first robot that has been programmed to “love”.

The Anniversary Party

In addition to having fabulouso babes for me to ogle, drool over and become fodder for disturbing sexual fantasies for months on end, THE ANNIVERSARY PARTY is a really good movie, too, even though it’s the type of film I would love to hate.

It’s written and directed by Jennifer Jason Leigh and her co-star Alan Cumming. I would have liked to have written the film off as self-indulgent claptrap made by some self-indulgent actors and starring their self-indulgent friends. But, the film, tho’ seriously flawed is very human, perceptive and emotional.

Bread and Roses

Finally, if you’re in a liberal/socialist mood, please check out Ken Loach’s stirring BREAD & ROSES. It’s the story of a fictional 1999 Los Angeles Justice for Janitors union organizing drive seen mostly through the eyes of a plucky female illegal immigrant Tho’ the film’s particular organizing drive is fictional, Justice for Janitors is a very real organization. I found it to be a very powerful film that didn’t take any easy roads. It also included one of the most harrowing emotional scenes I’ve seen in a good long time.


MEMENTO is the story of a guy who has no short-term memory. Every few minutes he forgets everything that has just happened to him. Even if he’s in the middle of a conversation with someone, he’ll forget to whom he’s talking or what they’ve been talking about.

That’s not even the weird part of the film. The weird part is that most of the movie is told backwards through time.

The Widow of Saint-Pierre

Even I’m not too sure what this rant has to do with THE WIDOW OF SAINT-PIERRE. I suppose Juliette Binoche acts in an unselfish way to rehabilitate a prisoner on death row by having him do odd jobs in the community. But we’re never really too sure what her motives ever are nor why she’s so obsessed with this guy.