aimee & jaguar (2000, Mongrel), dir. Max F&aulm;rberböck w/ Juliane Kohler, Maria Schrader. Aimee & Jaguar recounts the real-life love affair between Nazi housewife Lilly Wust (Kohler) and Jewish underground member Felice Schragenheim (Schrader). The compelling tale works as a lesbian love story but falters as a study of the German wartime psyche. While the performances by both leads are strong, you wish F&aulm;rberböck had delved deeper.
Loads of interviews with the cast and crew, two background documentaries and an onscreen photo album of the real-life Aimee & Jaguar. What's missing is the excellent feature-length, award-winning documentary Love Story: Berlin 1942, which fills in some of the film's blanks. NNN
Big-screen rating: NNN (IR)
baise-moi (2000, Remstar) dir. Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi w/ Raffaëla Anderson, Karen Lancaume. Banned in France (and it takes a lot for a film to be banned in France), Baise-Moi tells the story of two women, one of whom has been raped, who go on a fucking and killing spree. This film isn't nearly as subversive as it thinks it is -- the unfairly banned Fat Girl is the truly subversive French film of the year. In fact, it's a rather unambitious work. The directors do nothing but try to shock us by piling on explicit sex and unthinking violence.
This film needs a director's commentary track but doesn't get one. Instead we get the trailer, press notes, flashcards and photos. NN
Big-screen rating: NN (IR)
moulin rouge! (2001, Fox), dir. Baz Luhrmann w/ Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor. The dizzying, in-your-face visuals of Moulin Rouge! dissipate on the small screen, but the effect is still astounding. Luhrmann takes the standard boy-meets-girl story and injects it with a musical speedball that nearly knocks us out. The songs, present-day pop ditties remixed -- sometimes with a vulgar edge -- carry us through, and both Kidman and McGregor work very hard to make us believe that love is a many-splendoured thing.
A great package, including commentary tracks by Luhrmann, the production designer, co-writer, cinematographer and co-writer, and lots of behind-the-scenes footage, like stuff on the film's music and marketing. NNNN
Big-screen rating: Luhrmann's not happy unless the camera spins in mid-air, the sets morph into something else and he can cut between 19 things happening simultaneously. NN (JH)
the big heat (Columbia Tri-Star, 1953) dir. Fritz Lang w/ Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin. A noir with a hero out of a western, Lang's film shocked with its portrait of city corruption from top to bottom. Ford plays a detective unearthing ties between cops, gangsters and politicians. That's been common thriller fare since the 70s, but The Big Heat still packs a wallop, if only for the notorious scene in which henchman Lee Marvin hurls scalding coffee at Gloria Grahame. 89 minutes. NNNNN
The trailer, vintage advertising, soundtrack in English or French, and subtitles in English, French, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Spanish or Portuguese.
Also this week
The Princess Diaries
Scary Movie 2