Friday, May 30, 2008

Elephant In The Cinema

We've heard so much about Woo Ming Jin's The Elephant And The Sea, but I think few people here have seen the film. After winning a couple of awards at international festivals, the film pretty much went into silent mode, while its director went on to make a couple of TV movies and short films.

Kelab Seni Filem Malaysia, the small but spunky film club here in Kuala Lumpur has been a great supporter of independent films and their makers. In fact, several of its committee members, such as Ho Yuhang and Tan Chui Mui, have become internationally-recognised filmmakers. I guess The Elephant And The Sea would have been shown by the club, but the general rule is that if you want cinema chain distribution, then you absolutely cannot exhibit the film to the public before that.

But the good news is, The Elephant And The Sea has been picked up by Cathay Cineleisure for a limited engagement, and will be released on Aug 21.

The film's blog is here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Cinematic Landmark" Going ... Going ... Gone

When I took the monorail from KL Sentral station into the city centre, I'd always keep my eyes peeled for a certain sight somewhere between the old Pudu jail and and Berjaya Times Square. It was where an abandoned building project stood. The unfinished building stood a few storeys high, quite high actually, and had a certain unique look to it mainly because you could see the pillars within and the staircases snaking through its belly. It was like the giant skeleton of a humongous monster.

It was where Tsai Ming-liang filmed I Don't Want To Sleep Alone (Hei Yan Quan).

There are quite a number of such unfinished buildings around the city and its outskirts and in other towns, mainly because of the economic downturn in 1998. Tsai saw a story in there because it just so happened that the period of the economic downturn was also accompanied by our first incidences of the suffocating haze. And it took someone who had lived in Taiwan for so many years to see the point of it all and come back home to make a film about it.

Lately, some of these unfinished projects have been resumed, and unfortunately, so has this building that was a major character in I Don't Want To Sleep Alone. Yesterday I was on the monorail heading out of the city, and while looking out for my favourite sight, I was horrified to see the building draped in green netting and looking quite completed. I felt a deep regret in my heart of not photographing the structure before this.

And now, it's almost "gone," becoming just another concrete mushroom in the landscape of progress. It's most probably going to be another office block, and I wonder how many of those future office workers in the building will realise the significance of their workplace.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Magician And Human Resources

So Laurent Cantet has won the Palme D'or with his classroom drama, Entre les Murs, the first French film to win the top prize since 1987, when Under Satan's Sun won it amidst boos and jeers. Then I came to realise that I have a DVD of Cantet's earlier film, Time Out, which until today I still haven't seen. What the hell ... ? Guess it's now time to put it in the player for a spin. I think Cantet's Human Resources was shown here at GSC's International Screens, if I'm not mistaken.

Well, it's a bit sad that no Asian film won this year, except for the Un Certain Regard category where a Kazakhstan film (no, not Borat) called Tulpan won, and Kurosawa Kiyoshi's Tokyo Sonata picked up the Jury Prize.

Meanwhile, here's a trailer for Eric Khoo's My Magic.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Dangerous Beauty

I saw Ang Lee's The Ice Storm when it first came out in 1997, and even though I didn't grasp everything it had to say, the film stayed with me for a long time. There were images and feelings that I remember so strongly, that never went away even after I had forgotten the details of the story.

When I revisited the film on Criterion's excellent edition, it actually overwhelmed me the second time around. Based on Rick Moody's novel, from a sensitively observant script by James Schamus, The Ice Storm is a portrait of upper-middle/upper class families in the 70s, and a study of the relationships and unseen bonds between children and their parents. These are individuals caught, whether consciously or unconsciously, in the Negative Zone, a place described by the narrator while drawing subtextual comparisons between superhero family the Fantastic Four and real life.

Part of the wonder of this film is seeing the then-young cast comprising Tobey McGuire, Elijah Wood , Katie Holmes and Christina Ricci deliver such powerfully nuanced performances before they grew up and became big stars. What struck me too, was how Ang Lee managed to elicit
a low-key but strong performance from Sigourney Weaver who did a lot of the acting just with her eyes and very few words.

But the thing that stayed with me the most were the striking images of a frozen landscape during and after an ice storm. It's a beautiful wonderland of tinkling icicles and shimmering surfaces, but there is a palpable darkness to all of it, underlining the dangerous beauty of life in the film - it's nice to behold, but if you choose to participate, then anything can happen. There are many metaphorical moments that are not merely functional but also lends a feeling of desolate iciness about the lives of its characters. The film begins and ends with the scene of an electric train stalled by the ice storm, like the people and lives in the film that are temporarily halted, then begin again after a painful, even forced re-examination.

Do children really take after their parents; are we really inherently similar to our parents? The film seems to suggest so, but more pronounced is its examination of what happens when we grow up. The story takes place at the time of the so-called sexual revolution of the 70s, but weren't the yuppies of the time subconsciously lowering their status and unconsciously doing damaging things to themselves in order to lend some relevance to their clean but listless lives? The children and their parents do the same things, but with different motivations and perceptions; the kids do it with a mixture of fear and curiosity, while the adults have guilt and shame. But the one constant is the confusion that goes with it all. Inevitably, because of this, hypocrisy follows. When father having a tryst with his neighbour at her house finds his daughter and his lover's son experimenting in the basement, he blows up at them, not realising he has his own explaining to do as to why he is in the house too.

But it's not all dark and depressing; there are moments of humour, mostly satirical. The families even live in houses with huge glass panes, literally living in glass houses.

Personally, I think The Ice Storm is Ang Lee's best film. Every part of the film lends to, and enhances, another, and nothing is wasted. It is probably the most visually stunning of his films. There is a powerful sense of the melancholy, and while the sadness doesn't really peak towards the end with one tragic scene, it is perhaps a symptom of its characters' confusion about what they're feeling.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Khoo's Cannes Clan

An early review of Eric Khoo's My Magic is online now, at Screendaily. It's a not-so-positive review of Khoo's competition entry at this year's Cannes, but word has it that the film has managed to create quite a positive buzz, with Khoo and gang booked out for interviews. This despite what could be the organisers' no-show of confidence by slotting the film for a hidden corner kind of screening time.

Good for Khoo. Can't wait to see the film. Since it's the first ever Singaporean film to make it into the main competition in Cannes, it could very well have booked itself a release slot here in Malaysia. We'll wait and see.

Whatever it is, it simply means that the Malaysian filmmakers now have to play catch-up. It's been pretty quiet over here, especially the independent scene. But I hear Ho Yuhang may be shooting a new film soon.

Meanwhile, an excerpt from the Screendaily review of My Magic:

Khoo says part of the inspiration for this script comes from Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic novel The Road and the special relationship between father and son there. Unlike McCarthy, however, Khoo's world is far more schematic and his plot leaves too many issues unsolved and too many questions open.

Thanks to Wisekwai for the heads-up.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indiana Jones And How His Movie Went Down The Drain

I had sworn not to see the latest Indiana Jones movie. But since I got a chance to see it for free, I did. As long as I didn't have to contribute monetarily to the franchise.

The "why" is already clear; I've written about the Indiana Jones franchise and what's wrong with it. I really don't see the need to support a movie franchise that once featured a hero's sidekick who is the stereotypical subservient Asian who speaks funny, among other "wrongdoings."

So I went into Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, with the knowledge that Spielberg had gone to great lengths to keep the plot a secret, and that critics at Cannes gave it a somewhat positive response. But guess what? The moment I saw Cate Blanchett in that ridiculous hairdo and sounding like Borat, all expectations of some semblance of enjoyment went right out the window.

You must admit, despite the franchise's grave faults, melting Nazis were fun to watch. But Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull is boring and too absurd. It seems like today, there are added regulations in the Filmmakers' Handbook. They seem to think creating excitement means piling on over-the-top, silly action sequences.

Action sequences used to be rooted in reality before the advent of CGI. But now, just because they can, they push the boundaries of believability way too far, like having two people sword-fighting on two high-speed vehicles. And how many times can one believe that the hero and his companions can avoid being shot by MULTIPLE MACHINE-GUNS?

But the biggest mistake of all is probably the main element of the plot, which I cannot mention here without giving away spoilers, so I won't. Suffice it to say, I rolled my eyes until they were almost staring at the back of my skull, which is not crystal, by the way.

Harrison Ford may be trying to recapture his glory days as Indiana Jones, but so it seems, is Spielberg trying to update himself to satisfy the audiences of today who do not believe in the "less is more" adage.

And now I have to really wonder why the Cannes critics let Spielberg off that easy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rabbit Holes And Talking Heads

Did people actually hate The Brothers Grimm? Do people actually hate Speed Racer? Is this a sign of the impending Armageddon? Is the world coming to an end, because I do seem to detect that visually interesting films are universally hated and ignored now?

I've always been a Terry Gilliam fan. This admiration is not an extension of a Monty Python fanaticism. I like directors who have a very personal, idiosyncratic storytelling and visual style. Gilliam, from the very beginning, has had a very interesting style that you can immediately identify him with. That style is so solid that it can seemingly only fit certain themes. But Gilliam has already proven the opposite; instead it's his style that can inject any story with a certain frantic pace and bug-eyed curiosity. His remake of Chris Marker's masterpiece La Jetee, my all-time favourite film, showed that he understood the emotional anchor of Marker's film and where it comes from.

I had been curious about Tideland and had followed it since its post-production. The initial images were strong. And the fact that Gilliam shot it independently in between making The Brothers Grimm, made it even more interesting.

Well, I finally caught it on DVD, and I must say, it's a pretty amazing film, albeit very, very disturbing. It's perhaps Gilliam's darkest work. But it's also very, very funny. It's almost completely non-plot-driven and relies almost entirely on its lead Jodelle Ferland's watchability. And boy, can she act.

It's a fascinating look at loneliness, neglect and insanity, also fascinating because of how much restraint Gilliam exercises here. Even though the opportunities are plenty for him to exact his usual fantastical whimsies, there is only really one fantasy sequence. I think it is this stronger root in realism than his other films that makes Tideland so much darker, with a very bitter aftertaste that gets more unpalatable as the film goes along. There's a feeling that things could tip over into extremes at any second, and it's this sense of teetering on the edge that drives the film despite the lack of a strong plot.

The barren but beautiful Saskatchewan landscape perfectly balances the grim proceedings inside the houses and minds of its mad characters, and provides perhaps the only respite from the madness that threatens to overwhelm us.

This is Gilliam freewheeling in a state of insane bliss. If in his previous films, the childlike innocence was always in danger of being shattered by the grown-up world around it, this time the child's innocence, with its talking doll heads and rabbit holes, is seductively magnetic to those around it and threatens to gobble up everything like a black hole in space.

Tideland is bleakly beautiful like the land of dry wheat fields and scraggly trees that it inhabits.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Races On Speed

So the verdict is out. The critics hate Speed Racer. Audiences are staying away. The movie is losing money. It all left me asking, just what the hell happened?

Well, according to Darth Mojo, they assassinated Speed Racer. (The write-up's good, but the doctored picture may be a little offensive for some. So be warned.)

I loved Speed Racer and found it far more memorable than Iron Man. The difference between the two movies is that Speed Racer is a kid going crazy with the crayons, and Iron Man is a 14-year-old trying to be adult but comes off ridiculous.

If Speed Racer is ridiculous, it's because it's supposed to be so. The camp, the fun, the energy, are just so addictive. There's a delectable charm and joie de vivre in its creative recklessness. It's a child that hasn't yet learned the rigid rules of the world. It hasn't been tainted by the world's cynicism, still prime in its innocence. It's a child that wants to paint the sky purple and believes the sky to be so, even though the world says it's wrong. It is this complete abandon with which its imagination runs wild that captured my own imagination so much. Even its updated theme song is so infectiously childish and silly.

Speed Racer will stand the test of time, trust me on this one. It will probably become a cult favourite in years to come, achieving the kind of revered, deity-like status as Blade Runner. Its hyperactive visuals and colours are probably too much for the mind to behold right now, but anyone even remotely scrutinising the film will see that it is indeed something quite unseen before, much like what the Wachowskis gave us in The Matrix.

And trust me, there will be copycats.

The movie manages to achieve a nice balance between psychedelic, mind-bending action and good character development, even daring to lend some real emotional weight to its family drama. And that's not an easy task, not allowing the camp and candy to overwhelm the heart of the movie.

So far, the only people who have managed to recognise the film for what it is are the fans of the original series. They're all out in force to help boost the movie's box-office performance.

It still baffles me why such obviously bad films as Transformers and 300 were so readily embraced.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Me And My Matrix

Maybe it's because of Speed Racer - which I like a lot - that I decided to slip The Matrix into the DVD player again. It's a film that has grown on me tremendously over time. Believe it or not, I used to hate it because I thought it was all style and little else.

When I first saw it in the cinema, I didn't think much of it. OK, so the visuals were nice, but the ideas, I thought, were hardly original. In fact, if you'd consider it, the style too, is hardly original. I felt the Wachowskis were doing a Tarantino - mash up everything that's ever come before, and blend it all into one seemingly "new" thing.

The biggest beef I had with it was that all the slo-mo doesn't serve the story but is there for some eye-candy. In John Woo's case, from whom they had borrowed, the slowed-down action sequences had the effect of creating tension very much like a suspenseful scene where the protagonist is being closed in from behind by the bad guy. It made you grip your seat in anticipation.

Then, of course, there's all the borrowing. The opening sequence is straight out of Ghost In The Shell, and the whole idea of "the real world" has been done to death, as has the "war against the machines" angle.

But on the whole, the movie does work because the Wachowskis imbue it with so many allegories, even though some seem to stretch it a bit. For me personally, the wonder of it is how they managed to make a coherent story when the story actually takes off in the middle of things. What is the Matrix and how did Neo come to know of it? Who is Trinity? Who is Morpheus? What the fuck is going on?

But somehow, right from the beginning, we're never confused. And that, for me, is the beauty of it. And there's the same energy of the imagination that is in Speed Racer.

And when I watched it again just now, it struck me just how similar it is to the Terminator series. The war against the machines, the saviour, the end of the world. Even the score has moments of T2, the metallic clanging. The shootout at the building too, is reminiscent of the one in T2.

There's no doubt The Matrix has been incredibly influential in Hollywood. It has also had its influences on Russian cinema, particularly on Timur Bekmambetov's Night Watch series. So much so that Bekmambetov has now gone and made a Matrix copycat film. I call it The Matrix Recycled. Its real title is, of course, Wanted.

The James McAvoy character is Neo, Angelina Jolie is Trinity, and there's also a black mentor, like Laurence Fishburne's Morpheus, in Morgan Freeman's character.

The whole concept is pretty telling too. Freeman tells McAvoy:

"It is a choice that each of us must face ... to remain ordinary, pathetic, beaten down, coasting through a miserable existence, black sheep herded by fate ... or you can take control of your own destiny and join us ..."

Ya, take the blue pill, or take the red one. The choice is yours. What a complete rip-off.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Peculiarity Breeds Strangeness

After years of dreaming about it, I finally made it to the Forbidden City in Beijing this week. It is an awesome, majestic place with hundreds of years of history. I finally saw the place where the final scene of The Last Emperor was shot, where the old Pu Yi meets a young boy who is playing around his old throne, and he gives the boy his old pet grasshopper. Then there is the massive gates, through one of which the young Pu Yi tried to ride his bicycle, but is stopped at the last minute by palace officials who close the gates on him. It was breathtaking to see the places where the film was shot, even more amazing to be aware of the intricate history of the place.

Then I came home to some peculiar news. First of which is the announcement that there will be a sequel to Richard Kelly's masterpiece of teenage angst and detachment, Donnie Darko. Now, how does one make a film to continue the story of an earlier film that is already near-perfect? Well, you simply can't, which is easily why everyone has gawked at the idea. A British company will produce the sequel, called S. Darko, which will pick up the story seven years later, when Donnie's sister Samantha and her friend Corey take a trip to Los Angeles and are "plagued by bizarre visions." Kelly will have nothing to do with the sequel.

Well, I say why get your knickers all in a knot over this? Just ignore the film and don't let it taint your good memories of Donnie Darko. Simple as that.

Then there's the bit of news about Werner Herzog and Nicolas Cage wanting to make a film together, and the project is a remake of Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant. Now that's a bizarre vision. First, I thought after Rescue Dawn, Herzog would have sworn off working on another Hollywood film, since from that now famous New Yorker story, we know how shitty it was for Herzog. Secondly, what is it with Cage nowadays? Has he become the Remake King now? First there was The Wicker Man, then Bangkok Dangerous, and now Bad Lieutenant. Not a very good career move, I must say.

While on the not-so-bizarre side, there's news that David Cronenberg might be directing the remake of Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo's Time Crimes. I haven't seen thre Spanish original, but if word of mouth is to be believed, it seems this might just be right up Cronenberg's alley, remake or not.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Fast, Furious And Colourful

Believe it or not, Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer does that classic pose you see in the picture on the left, in one scene in the Wachowskis' movie version of the old anime series. It's one of those fanboy moments, but it's so well done, I didn't feel the usual yuckiness associated with fanboy moments.

Speed Racer is trippy fun, hyperkinetic, and rather original in its mixture of retro family film and contemporary action superdynamics. I can't write more about the movie here, for reasons I can't divulge. But I'll just say, it was very enjoyable, more so than the fun but forgettable Iron Man.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Miscellaneous Miscellany

Amidst really digging the new Pat Metheny Trio CD, Day Trip, which someone finally found for me in Singapore - yes, some CDs are like good movies that never make it to our shores - I was chatting with an Aussie friend of mine who has lately become sort of an extra-for-hire. He was earlier in some TV series with Jet Li's brother, then he worked on something else. And now he's in this TV war series produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.

It was a real coincidence when he told me he met the red-headed kid from Jurassic Park, because just this past weekend I saw the movie again. If you believe my friend, the kid told them: "G'day, mate, I'm the kid from Jurassic Park." Heh.

I asked my friend what part he was playing in the series (is it a Private? as in a "private part"?). He said: "Well, I'm one of the 500 extras playing soldiers. I've died about five times."

Extras, as they say, have nine lives ... in each movie.

Former Chicago Reader critic, Jonathan Rosenbaum, recently retired and all, had promised us a website soon, and yes, it's up and running now. Check it out. It's still new, and a bit of a disapppointment at the moment, as Dave Kehr points out. Right now, it will only consist of reprints of his older writings and a "brief list of recent publications and upcoming events." But Rosenbaum does tell us that it's only "for the time being."

Over the years, I'd followed his film reviews at the Chicago Reader (I have a huge, printed and bound, personal collection of them), and written to him several times, once for a short interview and a couple times to tip him off on some stuff. He was generally courteous but you could sense how busy a guy he is in the brief and hurried way he replies. But always courteous, even when I wrote to him once to voice my shock at his positive review of Chen Kaige's generally despised The Promise!

In other news, this one a bit late, Da Huang Pictures, the indie collective comprising Tan Chui Mui, Amir Muhammad, James Lee and Liew Seng Tat, has gone online with a webstore. You can buy all their award-winning films and documentaries there. So now, you don't have to worry about falling asleep at James Lee's slow-crawl movies and missing the important bits. Now you can watch them in the comfort of your home, fall asleep, wake up and rewind the DVD, and not miss a single frame!

Aren't DVDs such wonderful things?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Movie On Speed

Variety, ever the first to preview any movie, has got a review of Speed Racer already. Nothing terrifyingly shocking nor revealing, in short nothing we're not already expecting from the movie. It's pure cinematic fun in glorious candy colours, with the action emulating the style of the cartoon series. The only shocking thing is that it's more than two hours long!

I have a soft spot for the old series. The animation is weird - sometimes with frames where the characters don't move but the "motion lines" do - and the story is melodramatic and often very silly. But it's got a certain charm that you just got to love. So I think the Wachowskis did a very smart thing with a purely no-frills, PG rated, hyper-realistic thrill ride.

Review coming up early next week. So watch this space.

By the way, if you've ever wondered what the M on Speed's helmet and car stands for, it's not "Mach 5," like most people think. Apparently it's the name of the racing team Mifune Motors, which is also a tribute to the great actor Toshiro Mifune.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Keeping Things In Perspective

So now Iron Man's out, and earlier this week, after the sneaks and previews, the blogosphere was full of rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth rantings about how "awesome" Iron Man is. As expected, the usual suspects became somewhat like personal promoters for Universal Pictures, actually saying little about the film but ejaculating a lot from the mouth.

Then I read a Facebook note written by an acquaintance that kind of assured me I wasn't suffering alone in this world-gone-ditzy. He enjoyed Iron Man but thought it was a watch-and-discard type of movie, which I agree. Then he also noted how disappointing it is when previews for popcorn movies like this are packed to the brim while the really great ones don't usually get even five reviewers attending. A painful truth it is indeed.

Last night, a friend (name withheld to protect his reputation, haha) called me in total excitement after having seen the movie. He duly wrote a glowing review for it on his blog, almost likening it to Batman Begins. Normally I wouldn't give a rat's ass, but I happen to like Batman Begins a lot and have great respect for Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale, whom I regard as one of the greatest actors of his time and one of the most underrated. Bale is different in every film, and not afraid to go the extra mile for his art, case in point The Machinist. And, of course, Herzog's Rescue Dawn.

And so it got my knickers in a knot. I subsequently directed him to The Hot Blog and the often controversial David Poland. His was the only review I'd found on the Net that had almost the same observations as mine. (There's no Permalink so you need to scroll right down to the Iron Man review.)

Let me pause here and relate an amusing incident at the preview I attended. When Tony Stark finally dons the full suit and Iron Man finally appears, I heard someone cheered "Yay!" and clapping his hands with glee. I thought it must be some kid a reviewer had brought along. I turned and to my surprise, saw a man in his 30s, with a beard and in office attire.

Most acquaintances I know who have raved about how great the movie is, are the same ones who found the ending of No Country For Old Men to be "disappointing." A profound, lyrical ending had gone whoosh over their heads, but a by-the-numbers movie that spells out everything for its audience and spares no lost point gets noisy approval. Any debate with them will go nowhere, because fanboys are steadfast in their faith and loyal to the core, and you who disagree will be labelled a snob of the lowest order. I would say I'm very experienced in these things because the same happened with Transformers, the racist 300 and Cloverfield. Next to come, I predict, is Indiana Jones. Just you wait for the fireworks.

Don't get me wrong - I enjoy a good blockbuster as much as the next guy, but I'd like to keep things in their proper perspective. There are undesirable elements in Iron Man, the way it uses a real-life situation to further the agenda of its fantasy story, and the way it portrays Middle-Eastern-looking characters as one-dimensional enemies. It's one thing to create a fictional, allegorical setting, but in using a real country, it becomes a distortion of truth. Just as the Indiana Jones series had its racist portrayals of Asians (weird) and Arabs (evil). Of course, the most common (and convenient) argument is that it's only a movie, why so serious.

The answer, the very simple answer, lies in a quote from George Orwell, which Jonathan Rosenbaum used in his review of Star Wars to illustrate basically the same point:

"The first thing we demand of a wall is that it shall stand up. If it stands up, it is a good wall, and the question of what purpose it serves is separable from that. And yet even the best wall in the world deserves to be pulled down if it surrounds a concentration camp. In the same way it should be possible to say, 'This is a good book or a good picture, and it ought to be burned by the public hangman.' Unless one can say that, at least in imagination, one is shirking the implications of the fact that an artist is also a citizen and a human being."

In enjoying driving your brand new car, would you discard the importance of wearing your seatbelt? In enjoying your weekly football matches, would you deny the existence of hooliganism? Should you start hating football because of hooliganism? Of course not, but it's important to keep things in the right perspective.

I enjoyed Iron Man too, but let's face it - is it a truly great film to warrant a review more glowing than for, say, No Country For Old Men?

Finally, what's more disturbing is a conversation I had with an online friend yesterday. He said he loves Iron Man so much that he doesn't want to read any negative reviews or know of the things wrong with it, lest it alters his view of the movie and he can enjoy it no longer. This is, of course, called "turning a blind eye," and it's a dangerous habit to adopt. We may only be talking about a movie, but as Orwell says, how we react to it and what we choose to see in it ultimately holds us responsible as citizens and human beings, in extension to other matters.

Next week, as part of the French Film Festival, Golden Screen Cinemas will be showing Godard's classic A Bout de Souffle (Breathless). I'm sure most of us here have never seen it on the big screen, so it's a big deal. And I'm also pretty sure those cheering and clapping at Iron Man won't be making a beeline for Breathless any time soon.

Footnote: For a better allegorical tale about how war is big business, watch Joe Dante's Small Soldiers. Here's Rosenbaum's review.

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