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May 2004

Reel Time

Two movies on love and heartache, plus an Alien bonanza

Back by popular demand, our movie reviews: this month films to make you laugh, cry and screeeeeaaam!

Mambo Italiano ***
The new Canadian film Mambo Italiano could have just as easily been called My Big Fat Italian Wedding. Like My Big Fat Greek Wedding it deals—albeit with a different slant—with the problems faced by first-generation immigrants struggling to bridge the gap between two disparate cultures, in this case that of modern-day Canada and 1950s Italy. In Mambo Italiano our hero, shy, sensitive and gay Italo- Canadian Angelo (Luke Kirby), finds himself unequal to this struggle and calls the Gay Helpline in desperation. His father, Gino (Paul Sorvino), who moved the family from Italy to Montreal in the 1950s, has clung tenaciously to the culture of his forebears and nothing, states Angelo over the phone, is worse than being gay in a family where macho heterosexual behavior is the order of the day. When Angelo meets up with his childhood friend Nino (Peter Miller), who turns out also to be gay, the neurotic family antics switch into high gear. Angelo and Nino fall in love and move in together, but then find themselves in disagreement over how to present their relationship to the outside world. Angelo, bravely, wants to come out and tell his family and friends. Nino, on the other hand, is happy keeping their relationship a secret. After all, he’s not only Italian and gay but also a cop and he rather enjoys acting the macho-stud policeman. It’s a romantic, coming-of-age, coming-out, culture-clash comedy—a gay film that is trying to stay true to its content while appealing to a mainstream audience. Fortunately the theme, establishing one’s own identity, is something most of us can relate to, no matter what our sexual orientation may be, and the humor keeps this film jogging along nicely.
German Release Date (subject to change) May 20. US Rated R for language and sexual situations

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ***
Valentine’s Day. The day of love. The day of lovers. Or, in this case, the day when the love of your life decides to wipe your relationship from her memory. And it is exactly this fate that is about to befall Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) at the opening of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The object of Joel’s affection is the beautiful, but rather impulsive Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), who seems to change her mind as often as her appearance. If you’re looking for a straightforward boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-gets-girl-back romantic motion picture, this is not for you. The film does appear to be just another quirky romantic comedy for the first 20 minutes before the opening credits (finally) appear, but then suddenly goes into a tailspin, switching back and forth wildly in time and location as Joel struggles to maintain his equilibrium in the face of his girlfriend’s emotional volte-face. Written by one of the most original voices in Hollywood today, Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is both an honest and horribly confusing portrayal of the vicissitudes of love. Expertly directed by Michel Gondry, the film manipulates lighting and sound to underline the desperation of the characters. The performances are wonderful, surely Carrey’s best, and the supporting cast with young A-List stars such as Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman) and Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings) round out the emotional core of the film’s subplots. It is a movie to be experienced with the heart and not the mind. And if it’s any consolation: there is a happy end. Sort of.
German Release Date (subject to change) May 13. US Rated R for language, some drug and sexual content

New Release on DVD:
Aliens – Quadrilogy
If emotional nightmares leave you cold and you’re looking for a scary movie that really packs the punches, this month brings back the mother of all monsters in a special collector’s edition series of the four Alien films on DVD. The box set is called Aliens – Quadrilogy and contains Ridley Scott’s director’s cut of the original Alien (1979), James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), David Fincher’s Alien 3 (1992) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien Resurrection (1997). The nine-disc set details the making of all four films. Would-be film directors and those who don’t mind having their favorite horror scenes dissected and explained will be well served by Quadrilogy. Both Ridley Scott and Jean-Pierre Jeunet provide running commentaries to the first and last installments, respectively. Disappointingly, however, Aliens and Alien 3 feature only voice-overs by members of the cast and crew and there is not a single word from delectable Alien star Sigourney Weaver. Nonetheless a must-have set for hardcore sci-fi fans.
German Release Date (subject to change) May 3. US Rated R for sci-fi violence/gore and language

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