Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974) movie poster

directors Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
viewed: 01/25/2012

When I asked the kids what they wanted to watch on movie night, Felix said, “A classic.  Like Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”   Who am I to argue?

They’d watched Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) with their mother and we’d previewed a number of scenes from the film on YouTube.  But frankly, for all its popular cultural ubiquity and placement on many lists as one of the “greatest comedies of all time”, I don’t know if I’d actually seen it since the 1980’s.

Like so many things that I grew up with and had my own experience with, Monty Python has come to signify not only a style of British humor, but has gone far beyond the breadth of its initial run.  Of course, on Broadway, there’s Spamalot, adapted directly from the film and broadening the reach of the humor perhaps more deeply into the mainstream.  Of course, one thinks of the classic “nerd” when considering the most typical Python fan.  And I could hear echoes of that in my consciousness as I heard lines like, “I fart in your general direction.”

I’m going to go ahead and say it: It’s not a great film.  It’s funny, classic in many parts, but it’s also exemplary of the hit and miss nature of Python humor, gags, skits, what-have-you.

Am I showing my lack of cultivation by saying that I think the Black Knight scene is the funniest of them all?

The kids enjoyed it.  Like a lot of verbal/physical humor (like the Marx Brothers), I’m sure that there’s a lot of it that they didn’t get.  I’m sure that there’s stuff that I didn’t get.

It’s a classic, yes, indeed.  Extremely funny.  Far from flawless.

Monster (2003)

Monster (2003) movie poster

director Patty Jenkins
viewed: 01/27/2012

Over the past five years, since I watched the documentary Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003) and have since seen a number of television documentaries dedicated to her, Aileen Wuornos has become a more and more tragic figure to my mind.  I never felt that attracted to seeing the big Hollywood version of her life, the movie, Monster, which brought actress Charlize Theron a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Wuornos.  But as her story continued to eat at me, as it still does, I became more curious and interested in the adaptation.

Writer/director Patty Jenkins clearly empathizes with Wuornos, but her take on Aileen’s story is focused on the last couple of years of her life, most particularly on her lesbian love affair that arguably brought Wuornos some long-desired but rarely glimpsed love and happiness.  It’s a love story at its core, but strangely and significantly, Wuornos’ real life lover, Tyria Moore, is recreated as “Selby Wall”, a girl with a story not entirely unlike Moore’s but doubtlessly different from Moore’s.  It’s always strange when films, “based on a true story” find such significant breaks with their bases, and certainly much fiction is embedded in any retelling of any story.  It’s not so much that it flouts the truth of her story but that it flouts what is at its core, the “truth” of Jenkins’s story.

However, something much more pointed and impossible to ignore really nagged at me: the “ugly” make-up that was plastered on the very beautiful Charlize Theron to make her resemble Wuornos.  Let’s keep in mind that this film is titled, “Monster”, more of an ironic point about Wuornos’s murder spree than her physical appearance.  However, I kept looking at Theron-as-Wuornos and kept staring at her face.  Theron put on some 40 pounds to play her (fair enough), but the make-up started with age spots and receding hair to a strange “lack” of eyebrows, and ultimately finished with some horrible fake teeth.  Now to some, this was part of the power of the film, to place a beautiful South African actress into a “costume” so unlike herself to give her over to a total character.  But the thing is it seems like they made her as ugly as they could, a “monster” of sorts, with her somewhat repulsive visage.

Wuornos, at the time of her murders was about 33 years old, while many of the images of her are from her last years in prison, up until her execution at 46.  She had the roughest, most brutal of lives, aged well beyond her years, but she was not an ugly woman, probably even less so during her brief reign of terror.  And it’s not so much that I’m trying to defend her physical beauty but rather to decry her rather extreme ugliness as portrayed in the film.  This is perhaps highlighted even further in that her cinematic lover is Christina Ricci, who wears only a bad haircut and baggy clothes as her paramour.  The actual Tyria Moore was nowhere as cute at Ricci.

This focus on physicality is at the heart of the film in which a beautiful actress makes herself ugly to step into such a role.  I don’t mean to take anything away from Theron, per se, her ability to mimic Wuornos’s speech and tonality, the way she holds herself and moves, all that feed into her performance are all her own.  And it’s good.

The real story behind Wuornos, a girl horribly abused from childhood, abandoned by a child-predator of a father and her mother, kicked out from her grandparents house when she became pregnant at 14, a girl who began trading sex for money or favors before she was a teen, is so incredibly sad and brutal that it’s stunning.  None of these facts justify her crimes, with the possible exception of her first murder which was likely in defending herself against a rape, but they do indeed speak to an understanding of a human being who the world would come to think of as “a monster.”

Where Jenkins seeks redemption for Wuornos in her failed love affair, she abandons Wuornos on other levels.  The love affair is a compelling one, a flawed relationship of two people “in need” as much as “in love,” a relationship doomed to failure through poverty, mental illness, addiction, and tragedy.

Physicality is foregrounded by the nature of the make-up and the transformation made for the role.  A “monster” is ugly somewhat by definition, either physically or by the nature of the beast itself.  Wuornos’ crimes were monstrous, surely, but was not her entire life monstrous?  Her beaten-down appearance by hard life and hard living corrupted her physically and mentally.  But in many ways, the film denies her beauty, a more transcendent beauty as well as a literal one.

Stardust (2007)

Stardust (2007) movie poster

director Matthew Vaughn
viewed: 01/20/2012

Adapted from a novel by Neil Gaiman, Stardust was one of a number of fantasy/adventure films that came out a few years ago, attempting to horn in on the Harry Potter empire.   Now Stardust was not from a series, but it shares something perhaps with the film version of The Golden Compass (2007) in that it’s a big epic fantasy film with a cast with lots of cachet that got middling to poor reviews and tanked at the box office.  Actually, I imagine that most people are probably going, “Stardust?”

Neil Gaiman is more interesting a writer that many and with the kids into fantasy films/stories, it seemed like a reasonable thing to watch even if the reviews weren’t that strong.

The story involves an alternate world that lies behind a hole in a stone fence in long-ago England.  The world beyond is called Stormhold and in it, a crazy king wants his 7 sons to murder each other to earn the right to take his throne.  His daughter is abducted by a witch, but fathers a child with the one Englishman who ever ventured over into Stormhold.  This child, as a young adult, is the hero (Charlie Cox).  There are witches, led by Michelle Pfeiffer (quite often in uber-ugly old hag make-up, who want to find a fallen star to use its energy to become young again.  And the star is actually Claire Danes, fallen to Earth in human form.

So, you can see there is a lot of story there.  More than I care to attempt to re-cap entirely.

The film is directed by Matthew Vaughn who has gone on to direct X-Men: First Class (2011) and Kick-Ass (2010), though before this his only feature had been Layer Cake (2004).  While not an impeccable resume, it’s also not by any means a dire one.  In fact, it’s pretty decent.  Still, Stardust really didn’t show him at his best.

The tone of the story is funny and fun, which I kind of liked.  And really, though it doesn’t manage to be quite as epic or enthralling as the best of the fantasy genre films go (and is a poor comparison to the source material so I’ve heard), I found myself kind of liking it.  The kids liked it too, perhaps Clara a bit more so than Felix, but with the core story being about “love”, it’s not the most compelling subject for them at present.

Robert De Niro shows up as a closeted cross-dressing sky pirate who captures lightning with his band of hearties.  It’s a kind of painful thing to watch.  He minces around a bit in the most cliche forms of “fey”, though the character is couched in a more positive attempt at addressing the stereotypes.  He hides his cross-dressing from his tough crew, thinking he has to maintain the appearance as a cutthroat to keep them following him, but ultimately they all know who he is and they still follow him.  De Niro didn’t have to be quite so bad in this.  It could have been pulled off with more flair and ingenuity, but it’s pretty awkward and a bit troublesome.

I don’t know.  It was also interesting to see Pfeiffer, still stunningly beautiful, playing the hag in make-up, having just watched her not so long ago in another fantasy film, in Richard Donner’s Ladyhawke (1985).  Twenty-two years separate the two films, and in Hollywood, as in perhaps all of Western culture, the measure of beauty is so fixated on youth that there is something uncanny about considering these multiple visions of her, young in  Ladyhawke, still lovely as her present self, but aging back and forth throughout the film.  It’s hardly the focal point of the story, just something that flickered through my mind throughout.

The Kid (1921)

The Kid (1921) movie poster

director Charles Chaplin
viewed: 01/14/2011

Charlie Chaplin’s first feature-length film, The Kid, highlights as much of Chaplin’s pathos as much as his humor.  Who knows, maybe even more?

My kids, when queried what they were up for on movie night, said “a classic.”  I’d long been holding back on this, figuring it would do well with them.  It did.

What struck me most were the images of poverty portrayed in the film.  This isn’t the Great Depression, but the stark images of the poor are very  much of their time yet strikingly timeless as well.  Poignant for today’s world perhaps more than one might initially realize.  Most striking for me were images shot on location on downtown Los Angeles’ Olvera Street (I’m a sucker for location shoots, capturing landscapes in place and time as they do.)  More than however dressed up the sets were or the cast was is how the images of need are as commonplace as they are, as simply readable.  From Chaplin’s Tramp’s clothes to the begging, scamming, and other hardscrabble means that people are portrayed as living by.

“The Kid” is Jackie Coogan (who would go on to becoming one of film’s first child stars and eventually become a well-known character actor as well, including notably Uncle Fester from TV’s The Addams Family.)  Coogan’s story is interesting in itself, how his parents spent all his money and left him broke, something that eventually led to laws changing the way that child actors’ money is managed.  But Coogan is as cute as they come and a wily, lively, miniature of Chaplin with his knack for physical humor.

Oddly, and it could just have been the time I was watching it, but I think it’s my favorite of Chaplin’s features that I’ve seen while tracking such things in this film diary.  Not to say that it’s necessarily “the best” of those films, just my favorite.

Tabloid (2010)

Tabloid (2010) movie poster

director Errol Morris
viewed: 01/13/2012

Documentarian Errol Morris’ latest film, Tabloid, recounts a racy tabloid news story from England from 1977, known popularly as the “Mormon sex in chains” case.  The reality behind the reality is that of Joyce McKinney, a pretty young woman who stalked (from America to England) a young Mormon man, who she and accomplices helped to kidnap, taking him to Surrey, where she chained him to a bed and had sex with him for several days.

Her version of the story suggests that the young Mormon man was somewhat more complicit (or willing) and that all of this was done “for love” against the brainwashing of his church.  The papers had a field day with the material, for obvious reasons…the story had it all.  And it just kept getting better and better.  As for the Mormon fellow, he declined to be interviewed for the movie, and if decades of life tell outside of the limelight say anything about him, he was quite likely the victim of a stalker, a pretty loopy stalker, though possibly a moderately benign one in the grander scheme of things.

McKinney is the main interviewee of the film, telling her version of events in great detail, answering back about nudie pics that surfaced by the press, further stalking issues, and finally, oddly, her return to the limelight as a cloner of her favorite pet dog.   Since the film, McKinney has come out in protest of its portrayal of her.

Unlike some of Morris’ best films, Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999) or The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003), Tabloid doesn’t seem to reach some transcendent discourse beyond its core subject.  While there is at the heart a question of “the truth”, a version of reality not unlike the elusive facts (a la Rashômon (1950), in which several accounts of a story depict a missing level of truth while suggesting a greater, less knowable version of truth), it ultimately plays out as a strange, somewhat humorous lurid tale, teasingly made palatable by the “barking mad” but quite charming McKinney.

Still, it’s not at all uninteresting.

The Tillman Story (2010)

The Tillman Story (2010) movie poster

director Amir Bar-Lev
viewed: 01/12/2012

There may be many ways to feel about the reality behind The Tillman Story but it’s hard for me to imagine any variation that doesn’t include being extremely pissed off.

Pat Tillman was the former NFL star who enlisted in the Army Rangers after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, abandoning a multi-million dollar contract to fight for his country.  Tillman did fight in Afghanistan, but he was also tragically killed by “friendly fire,” the euphemism for being killed by one’s own side by mistake.

This, in itself, was perhaps an accident that didn’t have to happen, an unfortunate situation that probably bore various degrees of inevitability.  In “the fog of war” it is something that is tragic but understandable, amid the chaos of firefights, foreign lands, with death and ambush all around at any time.

But the thing that is the pisser is how Tillman’s story was spun.  So very much against his wishes.

Like perhaps many people, when a square-jawed football player jumps on the war bandwagon, the thought is that “this guy is your typical American war-hawk, full of pride, but blindly following a military force that God knows how such blind faith will be rewarded” (or some such thing.)

This is a discredit to Tillman.  From a long line of American military men, who had served in many wars and fought for the ideals of the country, he wasn’t your average jock by any means.  Growing up outside of San Jose, he was a local boy (to us here) and his family, while strong on many traditional American values were also not entirely of that world either.  They were atheists for one.  They believed in an individualism of American values that far exceeded that of others willing to put their lives at risk in defending.

The bottom line is that Tillman was not a glory-seeker.  He signed documents when he enlisted asking specifically not to be made into a model, hero, martyr.  He was serving for his own beliefs.  His notoriety was not something that he pursued.  And once he had served some time, he started really questioning American foreign policy.  The film suggest that he even met with Noam Chomsky, a noted critic of American foreign policy.  Tillman was serving his time, and dutifully, but he was at odds with what was really happening in the war.

And the government tried to use him as a model of American ideals.  Against his wishes.  And that thing about being killed by his own side?  That was something that needed to be suppressed.

This is a story of lies and subterfuge, an attempt to make a martyr and hero of a man who was certainly heroic, but humble.  The irony is that his heroism had as much to do with “the truth” and free speech as it did with “fighting the good fight”.  The administration wanted to use him, his image, his surface as an icon, a football player, enlistee, a true fighting American, while ignoring his own desires and the truth of his ignoble death.

One of the great moments from this story, caught for the film, is when his brother is at the big, military funeral, broadcast widely and attended by many important people, proselytized by many.  His brother says thank you to the people but that Pat was not up in Heaven.  He was an athiest.  He was “fucking dead”.

The integrity of the Tillman family comes through in a way that is extremely compelling, a family of unquestionable American ideals, including those that don’t gibe with becoming a war hero, a military emblem, a campaign image.  Beyond this, they’ve had to fight for the truth of Tillman’s death, through the lies of the government, the true “gratitude” handed out to someone who offered themselves for their country.

It’s a story of crude ironies and yet of true heroism and American values.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011) movie poster

director Troy Nixey
viewed: 01/11/2012

Maybe it’s my own fault for thinking that the trailer for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark looked kind of good early on.  Co-produced and co-written by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), The Devil’s Backbone (2001), among others), it seemed to keen in on one of his stronger themes: childhood fears and fantasy.  But maybe it’s more of a testament that this was one that he chose not to direct.

Adapted from a made-for-television movie from the 1970’s (was there really another decade where they did such things in earnest?), del Toro was drawn to his own childhood experience of the film.  It scared him.  It stayed with him.  I don’t know if I have or haven’t seen the original.  It’s vague in my mind.  But the key way in which he updated the story, by making it focus on a child rather than an adult, seems the best intuitive choice that he made with the new film.

The film stars Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce as a couple who are restoring an estate somewhere in New England, a grand building that had been the property of a great artist.  Pearce’s daughter Sally from a previous relationship comes to stay with them.  Sally is unhappy, on medication, and is aware that she’s being passed off by a mother who doesn’t really want her.  So when Sally first discovers these strange, creepy voices coming through the vents, she is keen to make friends with them not to fear them.  Big mistake.

The film is visually polished, with cinematography that is more sweeping and swooping than the sum of the rest of the film’s parts.  The story is not well-thought out, the characters are not terribly plausible or believable, and for all its effort, it’s just really hard to care.  When Sally sneaks in to unbolt the sealed basement tunnel where the creatures live, it’s hard to believe that she really thinks they’re going to be friendly.  The hiss very quietly, almost subliminally, and I would think that even a lonely, depressed kid would be more wary than that.

Actually, this is another missed opportunity for the film.  There is perhaps a weird subcategory of horror films in which the children are the ones who believe in the fantastic horror while the adults fail to believe.  The kids are considered insane.  Child’s Play (1988) has been a personal favorite of this perverse order.  We do have a child on medication here, supposedly over-medicated by her absent mom, but somewhat depressed as well.  Without delving directly into psychology, there is much the plumb in the way of the child fantasist, the psychological versus the real world monsters, the loneliness of isolation of the world not believing in you.  But it’s all for naught here.

So, the script is bad, the direction is blah, the acting is not great either.  It’s sort of unkind to criticize a child actor, but Bailee Madison who plays Sally is not particularly sympathetic or engaging.  Actually, it’s kind of funny but I have for a long time said that Guy Pearce only seems to show up in good movies, whether it’s a starring role in a small film or a small role in a bigger film, the films that he’s in are usually surprisingly consistently good.  I suppose the exception proves the rule in this case.

It’s not an atrociously bad film, it’s just a frustratingly bad film.  The creatures are kind of cool, the story idea is kind of cool.  There was room for this to be a decent film.  But like I said, maybe del Toro knew it wasn’t such good material and skipped directing this one.  Who knows?

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) movie poster

director Brad Bird
viewed: 01/07/2012 at AMC Loews Metreon 16, SF, CA

I don’t dig Tom Cruise.  I haven’t seen one of his movies in the theaters since War of the Worlds (2005).  I didn’t see the prior Mission: Impossible III (2006).  So why see the cumbersomely titled Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol?  Good reviews alone would not have got me there, though good reviews there have been for this fourth installment of an action movie franchise that was a “re-boot” of a 1960’s-1970’s television show.

It came down to the fact that this was the first live-action film directed by Brad Bird.  Bird is best known for his stellar animated features, The Iron Giant (1999), The Incredibles (2004), and Ratatouille (2007).  Actually, it’s the confluence of good reviews and Brad Bird that piqued my interest to see a Tom Cruise movie in the cinema.  With the kids.  I don’t know that either of those facts alone would have done it.  Though I’m keen on Bird’s work, Mission: Impossible didn’t sound exactly like a match made in heaven.

Well, go figure.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol surprisingly is one of the best action films of its kind in a long, long while.  This is a James Bond-like thing with big action scenes, world-trotting locations, spy action, and explosions.  It’s a formula of sorts but it’s a formula that rarely makes it to the screen intact as a really exciting and thrilling movie.

It has a silly premise.  A rogue Russian genius wants to initiate a nuclear war to start a new era of life on Earth.  He gets the codes to launch the bombs, he gets the tool to launch the bombs, and just needs a satellite to launch the bombs.  And the M;I team has been “disavowed” by the government, setting them in “ghost protocol” (still the worst thing about the movie is the stupid title).  They’ve got to save the day on their own.

Tom’s team includes Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, and Paula Patton as the comic relief, the mysterious “is he good or evil” guy, and the sexy ass-kicker, respectively.  And everyone deports themselves well accordingly.

When I first saw trailers for the film, with Cruise dangling from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (currently the world’s tallest skyscraper), I was seriously nonplussed.  But the reality is that that scene in the movie, is the best sequence.  Bird has taken something that on the surface seems a bit cliche and overdone and really manages to induce not just vertigo but some crazy, athletic excitement.  It’s really quite something.

The whole film, while perhaps not achieving some transcendent level of that elusive quality of “greatness”, is a truly surprisingly entertaining and enthralling action film.  I was surprised.

The kids both liked it pretty well.  But I thought it was telling that Felix also commented that the worst thing about the film was its title (unsolicited by me).

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) movie poster

director Vincente Minnelli
viewed: 01/06/2012

Some classic films that I watch with the kids are not only their initiation with the material, but my own as well.  I once used to note that no one has seen every interesting or important classic film, everyone has holes in their experience, so don’t be so surprised that I’d never seen it.  That said, in telling people about the movie the next day, I was surprised how many people hadn’t even heard of it.

Go figure.

Directed by Vincente Minnelli, Meet Me in St. Louis is one of Judy Garland’s most known and beloved films.  Set in the early part of the 20th century, it’s a family drama/comedy/entertainment that is interestingly already wistful for a bygone time of innocence in American culture.  Based on the writings of Sally Benson, it recalls a middle class family in St. Louis in the year leading up to the 1904 World’s Fair, which was held there.  Garland plays Esther, the second eldest daughter of the Smith clan (which includes three other sisters).  The joys and adventures are comprised of riding the trolley, riding shotgun with the ice delivery man, Halloween shenanigans, building snowmen and going to dances.  And wooing young men.

Some humor is made of the “invention” of the telephone, the newfangled device that allowed a person in New York to talk to a person in St. Louis “as if they were just in the next room” (via shouting and misunderstanding).

The film is shot in Technicolor and is a pretty pure delight.  It debuted such classic songs as “The Trolley Song” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, two of the film’s many highlights.  It’s also interesting that second-billed Margaret O’Brien played the youngest of the sisters, Tootie.  She’s a total hoot, a wild almost tomboy of a character, who gets most of the laughs and a bit of the drama.

Made in 1944, during WWII, the film is a diversion of diversions, reckoning of a wholesome America.  The film’s largest drama revolves around the father’s plan to uproot the family for a promotion in New York City.  The film is of course a tribute to the St. Louis of the early century, which received the World’s Fair’s cosmopolitan fantasia, “right in old St. Louis” (or something to that sentiment.)  St. Louis represents the ideals of the American family, and the joys and traumas therein are of that of nearly broken hearts and almost abandoned homes.  But the whole thing is too happy and upbeat and cheerful (despite the sentiment of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” that things will be better) to end with anything but a smile.

The kids really enjoyed it.  Felix had specifically asked if we could watch some more musicals and this was one that I’d always wanted to see.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010) movie poster

director Apichatpong Weerasethakul
viewed: 01/03/2012

Winner of the Palme D’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives was somewhat of a surprise.  Writer/director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film is a mixture of realism and fantasy, or at least of some traditional Thai spiritual beliefs.  Based on a loosely on a book about a man who claimed to really be able to recall his past lives, the story is really a meditation on life, spiritual belief, death, and in some other ways, Thai cinema.

Clearly, it’s not a film made for just everybody.  In fact, Weerasethakul wasn’t even sure if his film would even be released in his native Thailand.  I’d never seen any of his films before, though I’d heard of Tropical Malady (2004).  While I wasn’t sure what I would think, I was intrigued.

The film is loaded with haunting imagery, evocative moments, and even some banal realism.  The actors are not necessarily professional, which adds to the realistic quality but also stilts some of the moments of out-and-out weirdness.

Uncle Boonmee opens with a particularly strange scene of a cow, tied to a tree, who loosens itself and then wanders into the jungle.  When the cow’s owner comes to retrieve it, a shadowy figure with red glowing eyes appears in the darkness without explanation.

Uncle Boonmee is dying from kidney failure.  He lives on a farm in the jungle and is visited by his ex-sister-in-law.  Soon he is also visited by the ghost of his dead wife and the form of his lost son, who disappeared into the jungle to become a monkey ghost (turns out he’s the furry thing with glowing red eyes).  All of this weirdness is taken in relative stride, living amid a reality that allows for such things.

The film shifts in its slow-going pace from moments of strangeness and weird beauty to lingering moments of dull everyday reality, normal conversation that transcends into discussion of life and beyond.  And then there is a sequence of a disfigured princess who has a sexual encounter with a catfish.

I’m not entirely sure what I think in the end.  Is it brilliant?  Is it naff?  Is it sublime?  I’m not sure.  I feel somewhat haunted by aspects of the film, moments, scenes, images.  But I wasn’t overwhelmed and invested to the level in which I would say that this film was indeed some tremendous feat of cinema.  I’m still a bit at odds with it.  But it is something strange and at times beautiful, at times a deeper, more audacious cinematic effort than most other films.  It lingers.  But does it stay?  We will see.