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2002

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STOKED: THE RISE AND FALL OF GATOR (dir: Helen Stickler, R) - Greg says, "This is DOGTOWN & Z BOYS' ugly cousin. Mark 'Gator' Rogowski was one of the top pro skateboarders in the 80's. When the shift was made from 'vert' or ramp skating to street skating, he couldn't make the adjustment and his fame and money waned. A loose cannon to begin with, he soon went over the edge and thought it would be a good idea to hit a girl on the head with a pipe and dispose of her body in the desert. This genuinely affecting story illustrates how the superficiality of fame can create an emotional void in people that cannot be filled. Not even by hitting girls in the head with a pipe."
THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST (dir: Aki Kaurismaki, PG-13) - Greg says, "This witty fable from Finland's comic master Aki Kaurismaki so completely charms you with its unique worldview that it might as well be from outer space. The tale of a man who loses his identity after being beaten by thugs only to rediscover who he really is was a smash at Cannes in 2002, winning the Grand Prix and Best Actress for Kati Outinen for her performance as the Salvation Army worker who slowly falls in love with our unnamed hero. Absolutely do not miss this magical and heartbreaking masterpiece."
IRREVERSIBLE (dir: Gaspar Noe, Unrated) – Greg says, "Legendary Chilean crackpot Alejandro Jodorowsky once said that his life was a search for the ultimate poetical act. He said that he couldn’t disregard violence from being beautiful because there was poetry in it. Such is the case with IRREVERSIBLE, perhaps the most brutal and shocking film ever released. It is ugly. It might be perverse. If movies had existed 200 years ago, the makers of this one would have been publicly stoned or locked away forever. But it is poetic. It is a justifiable act of art. The puritanical mentality that says ugly things should be hidden away and not seen does not stop ugliness from existing or brutal acts from happening. I personally want to be aware of these things. To lay witness to the true ugliness of the world is the only way to hold honest reverence for beauty. You cannot have one without the other. And that is why IRREVERSIBLE deserves to be seen. The film that caused uproars around the world starts with a scene of vengeful violence and then unfolds in reverse to explain what revenge is being sought for. It then continues back further and we see the characters in happier times. The compelling aspect of this technique is that we know the outcome. We know these people are destined for disaster because we have already seen what happens to them. The reverse storytelling is not a gimmick or, as in MEMENTO, a puzzle to be solved. It is a device that allows the characters to gain a unique empathy from the viewer because we know their fate. So I believe that Mr. Jodorowsky would approve of IRREVERSIBLE, though he probably wouldn’t want to watch it with his grandmother."
THE WAY HOME (dir: Jeong-Hyang Lee, PG) - Greg says, "This adorable import from South Korea became one of that nation's most popular films of all time, and it's easy to see why. On the surface it's the simple story of seven-year-old Sang-Woo being sent to the countryside to visit his grandmother for the summer. He is a spoiled city kid who whines ferociously at her lack of modern amenities. He gradually, and begrudgingly, comes to appreciate her way of life, but not before attempting to make misery for her. The more complicated issues arise in the film as it subtly addresses the influence of disposable Western culture on ancient societies. The real treasure of the movie is Eul-Boon Kim who plays the grandmother. She was found in a tiny village and not only had never acted in a film before, she had never seen a film before."
SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE (dir: Chan-wook Park, R) - Bart says, "I hate to think that the South Korean New Wave has come and gone already. For a while it seemed like every month we were getting a brilliant new movie from the third most densely populated country in the world, but they seem to be having some kind of a dry spell lately. The provocative OLDBOY was most westerners' introduction to this nation's cinema, but countless other equally memorable films came from there around the same time: ATTACK THE GAS STATION, OASIS, SPRING SUMMER FALL WINTER... AND SPRING, MEMORIES OF MURDER, SAVE THE GREEN PLANET, TURNING GATE, TAKE CARE OF MY CAT - many of which force the audience's complicity in some form of torture. Best of all might be this first (OLDBOY is the second) in Park Chan-Wook's Vengeance Trilogy - a beautiful and disturbing and deeply affecting story of a deaf man whose attempts to acquire a kidney transplant for his sister go horribly wrong."
BLISSFULLY YOURS (dir: Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Not Rated) - Bart says, "It's summertime! Don't you wanna take a walk in the woods with your lover and lie down by a stream and do what comes natural? Not a whole lot happens in this enigmatic Thai masterpiece from one of the most intriguing new directors in world cinema (don't worry, you can call him 'Joe'), but once the young couple in the film take their romantic break from civilization you'll be absorbed and entranced and in the mood for a little amore al fresco."
ADAPTATION. (dir: Spike Jonze, Not Rated)
CITY OF GOD (dir: Fernando Meirelles, Not Rated)
FAR FROM HEAVEN (dir: Todd Haynes, Not Rated)
INFERNAL AFFAIRS (dir: Wai-keung Lau / Siu Fai Mak, Not Rated)
OASIS (dir: Chang-dong Lee, Not Rated)
PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (dir: Paul Thomas Anderson, Not Rated)
SWEET SIXTEEN (dir: Ken Loach, Not Rated)
24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE (dir: Michael Winterbottom, Not Rated)
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