Angelina Jolie is Evelyn SALT - a CIA agent with a Russian past. A new James Bond who jumps out of buildings, on to moving trucks and strong arms agents like they were silly putty.
And unlike 007, Jolie has a husband, a German arachnologist, and his safety is paramount. Here’s why James Bond never marries, pretty much through all of the film, he is her main concern, and why she needs to stay on the run.
Watching Jolie escape the bad guys which are both American and Russian is an exhilarating roller coaster ride, and her bag of tricks includes knowing about the secret sauce of spiders and being able to get herself out of the most amazing situations with the acumen of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Nothing is predictable in this film, which is bound to have sequels, and that is great for Jolie.
SALT is well made with a lot of star wattage, and the kind of action thriller that Jolie likes to work with. But it still seems hard to believe how such a wiry agent can leap onto massive trucks and take down the bad guys without much muscle. Perhaps Jolie will beef it up for SALT II, where it is certain that her German husband's past will surface. After all, he sprung her from North Korean interrogators.
Alas, the Cold War between Russia and the USA lives on and has become hot. Take for example the use of the name Salt in a film which has the two superpowers going for the panic button. The historic SALT - Strategic Arms Limitation Talks - were about limiting offensive weaponry. Such intrigues are certainly nothing new for the spy who came in from the cold and goes out again. But when a popular film like this skirts heavy hitting topics about nuclear armament with opening scenes in North Korea and closing scenes in the White House, it is not only fun. Its a bit scary.
The Spanish translation of "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" is organically different from the English, explained local comedienne wonder of the world Marga Gomezto spectators at the Vogue Theatre in San Francisco. As part of a week long program of local standup comics introducing films at this vintage cinema house, LOL SF , (July 8-15) Gomez said that "Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios" is something quite different from the stereotype of women just losing it. She emphasizes that nervous breakdowns in Spanish are called "nervous attacks". She reported that these attacks involve a loss of emotional control that is often religious where women rip off their clothes and go into esoteric frenzy. The attacks can also be observed in Hispanic enthusiasm for the Spanish squad in the World Cup, and such frenzy is "not unlike life on the MUNI", quipped Gomez.
Gomez of Cuban-Puerto Rican descent admitted she has a bone or two to pick with the Spanish colonizers of the country where this film originates. But she does not take it out on Pedro Almodóvar'sWomen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdownfrom 1988 ("remember the 80's?", asks Gomez), a superbly fascinating study of women in love with a womanizer who has something positive to say about every woman and any woman.Carmen Maura plays Pepa, a TV actress who plays the role of a mother whose son is a homicidal maniac. Though she is able to clean all the blood stains from his clothes with a miracle laundry detergent she cheerfully promotes when the cops knock at the door. She is hopelessly in love with Ivan but teetering on the verge of collapse. So she sets fire to her bed and packs his suitcase.
Carmen Maura worked together with Almodóvar in seven of his films and certainly was one of his more sophisticated and commanding leading ladies, followed by Victoria Abril and later Penélope Cruz, all equally captivating.
In this colorful farce, an entourage of characters descend on Pepa's apartment, which she once shared with Ivan (Fernando Guillén) until he decides to take up with feminist lawyer, Paulina Morales (Kiti Manverx). Wife numero una, Lucia, (Julieta Serrano) is out to get him, having recently been released from the mental asylum, which she longs to return to. Son Carlos, a young Antonio Banderas and virgin girlfriend Marisa (Rossy de Palma) show up, and later two cops and a telephone repairman to fix the red phone Pepa constantly throws out the window. Meanwhile Candela (María Barranco) is hiding from the police so that she is not implicated with Shiite terrorists for hijacking a plane to Stockholm. And Billy Idol drives Pepa around town pursuing Ivan. All this is washed down with some serious spiked Gazpacho.
The ingenious idea of having comics introduce films is clearly in step with how San Francisco keeps its historic movie houses flourishing. Marga Gomez helped to embellish this comic masterpiece with a dimension that increased its viewing pleasure "exponencialmente". An added bonus was the appearance of ¡GARZA, delivering a melodramatic weepy from the film.
Noomi Rapace as ace hacker Lisbeth Salander and Michael Nyqvist as investigative journalist Mikael Blomqvist are back in the second part of the Millennium series written by the late Stieg Larsson: The Girl Who Played with Fire. Published last July, this trilogy is the first translated novel(s) to be on the New York Times Bestseller list in a quarter of a century. This time the translation of the title of this new film and novel is true to the original Swedish. ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" the first part of the trilogy in Swedish is Män som Hatar Kvinnor- Men Who Hate Women).
We last left Lisbeth somewhere in southern Europe where she had made a fortune through hacking. Now back in Sweden she has bought an expensive apartment overlooking the Stockholm Harbor. On the mail slot is the name "V. Kulla" that stands for Villekulla, none other than the home of Pippi Longstockings. The book by Astrid Lindgren about a young girl who lived on her own and could lift a horse was inspirational to Stieg Larsson.
The "Millennium" journal that Mikael works for has taken on an assignment to investigate trafficking among teenage girls between Sweden and Eastern Europe. Two young journalists are murdered and then another murder takes place and Lisbeth is falsely accused of doing them, forcing her to go underground. But she is hard on the trail again as is Mikael to find out who is behind the murders. The trail leads to men in high places.
Noomi Rapace steals every scene she is in. Realize that she is NOT a girl, but a young woman. For her role, she studied martial arts and learned to ride a motorcycle. Her timing and physical presence is powerful and she amazingly bites back so Zen like that it is hard to realize how a young hacker can bring so many men in high positions to their downfall.
Lisbeth set her abusive stepfather on fire as a child and was institutionalized as a 12-year-old girl. Her past bears on her current predicament and she is forced to confront it. Everyone is out to shut her down, and yet she quietly and effectively works to solve the murders she is falsely accused of, and Mikael works alongside her, unbeknownst to her, to get the bad guys.
There has to be a lull in the middle part of a trilogy, and there is in this one, adequately directed by Daniel Alfredson, but watch for the finale in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (In Swedish "The Air Castle That Was Blown Up" - Luftslottet som Sprängdes).
All three films have been out in Sweden for a year and were originally made for Swedish TV. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was 180 minutes compared to the theatrical version of 152 minutes (US) and The Girl Who Played with Fire is 129 minutes (US) and 180 minutes for the TV production.
She does not cease to amaze, and she did a heart pounding, chest expanding show at the Sonoma Marin Fair, June 25. Arriving recently from a tour that included Dublin and together with the formidable Blackhearts, Joan Jett belted out new songs, first songs ("School Days"), and classics ("Cherry Bomb"). In homage to Pride (June 25-27) in San Francisco, which she referred to as "that weekend", she sang "ACDC" (2006) and "Androgynous" (2006).
Here comes Dick
He's wearing a skirt
Here comes Jane ?
You know she's sporting a chain ?
Same hair revolution ?
Same build evolution ?
Tomorrow who's going to fuss
The eclectic crowd of all ages, children on parent's shoulders groovin' away, teenagers, families, couples and singles from all walks of life and style thomped, stomped and sang in unison to the Sonoma Marin Fair extravaganza including "I Love Rock N Roll", and "Crimson and Clover". Joan Jett looking as fabulous as ever and proving that she is way beyond being just an excellent show woman, continues to be the "Queen of Rock n Roll".
Joan Jett's life is the subject of a new film starring Kristen Stewart (Joan Jett) and Dakota Fanning (Cherie Curie) , a biopic about the legendary all girl teenage rock band Jett and Curie played in as teenagers in the mid 70s (1975-1979). The Runaways (2010) by Canadian director Floria Sigismond, which was in theatrical release in San Francisco in March, is out on DVD/BlueRay July 20.
According to Jett, Kristen Stewart played her well. “She’s authentic,” Jett said to Cinema Blend. “I don’t mean to put words in her mouth, but what I get is she feels she has to do it justice. She knows the Runaways have fans, she knows I have fans, and she was concerned about being authentic.”
Jett established her own label Blackheart Records in 1980, one of the first women to do so in the music industry.
Cheryl Dunye’s latest feature The Owls is an experimental narrative tour de force. It made its debut at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival and is now at Frameline, smartly written by Sarah Shulman. The premise of the film concerns four middle aged dykes who cover up the accidental murder of a baby dyke. The initial moments of the film blast footage of Riot Girrl band "The Screech" with captivating music saturated with feminist political lyrics and jarring imagery to boot. With this the veteran director pulls you in from the first seconds.
The Owls is an odyssey about lesbian/queer personal politics and features actors that continue to put lesbian filmmaking on the map. First up are veteran actors that helped change the way lesbian narratives were made in Rose Troche’s Go Fish(1994). Guinevere Turner plays Iris, former Screech lead singer and V.S. Brodie, sticks with the initials as MJ, former Screech producer. Director Dunye doubles up as Carol with UK filmmaker Lisa Gornick who plays former Screech bass player Lily. Then there is baby dyke and hearth throb, Deak Evgenikos as Cricket and her tool toting mate, Skye, played by Skyler Cooper.
The net is cast with an arc of narrative threads and first up is the scenario of a couple long on the rocks about to do a property division as amicably as possible. Iris drinks too much and is broke and MJ needs to get a life more than being aroused by porn on her laptop in the abandoned house the couple once shared. Neighbor Carol has her hands full with her partner Lily, an English neurotic who is truly misplaced in the Los Angeles Canyon cutting vegetables and trying to get pregnant to save their relationship.
One year later after a party that went all wrong, the misfits get a knock on the door by Skye who claims she has left expensive gear behind in the house. They let her in and she winds up staying on. But in truth she is looking for her partner Cricket. And we know that the misfits have killed her, accidently.
All this in the way of narrative explanation but the rich iconography of images, in your face closeups with soul searching confessions, and split screen anecdotes interspersed with clever dialogue makes this an exciting film. The fragmented narrative and cinema verité encounters with the actors, and the collective nature of the venture is a fresh kind off story telling.
OWL stands for Older Wiser Lesbian and all of these actors save the one that is accidently knocked off are + 40. Cricket's “accident” is a symbolic action for how lost young lesbians don’t seem to acknowledge or care about the history of the lesbian movement. The film seeks to unite today’s nuanced lesbian - queer - butch - transman - movement with no labels but enough signposts that reveal a collective language known to the audience it caters to. Call it what you will, each woman defines herself, each woman speaks to the intricacies of relationships in the queer community, however isolated. In this case it’s a real slice of lesbian life in a little enclosure far from the city. The characters candidly and authentically speak to the camera and reveal their truths about what it means to be queer and lesbian in society today.
The filmmakers and actors belong to the Parliament Film Collective, a matrix of lesbian and new queer cinema creativity. The film cost 22,000 dollars to make and seems to fit in with the challenge put out by avantgarde filmmaker Maya Deren on making good affordable films: “my films cost what Hollywood spends on lipstick".