A teenage girl (Ayesha Dharkar) from an unnamed country trains herself to perform a suicidal act of terrorism in a 1998 Indian feature by director-cowriter-cinematographer Santosh Sivan, not to be confused with films of the same title from the Soviet Union (1991) and Egypt (1994). The ideological reasons for the heroine’s project aren’t divulged, so I guess we’re supposed to be fascinated simply by the fanaticism of her will, doubts and all. I wasn’t, despite many brooding close-ups, arty pacing, beautiful settings, and alternately sappy and melodramatic music. In Tamil with subtitles. 95 min. (JR)
Craig Baldwin seems to have been compulsively remaking the same movie over the past decade, an experimental found-footage compilation that dovetails as many technological conspiracy theories as possible. Each time he does a better job; this delirious 1999 feature is better to my mind than either Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (1991) or Sonic Outlaws (1995), and it makes extensive use of Baldwin’s own footage, as did O No Coronado! (1992). But whether there’s a corresponding growth in lucidity is another matter. All his movies simultaneously mock and indulge in paranoid ranting, and sorting out the parodic strands isn’t always easy; when I heard Baldwin speak about his new movie recently in Austin, I was happy to discover that he’s a lot more lucid, politically speaking, than both his films and many of his postmodernist champions, so viewers who turn up for this screening should definitely stick around to hear him talk about it afterward. At the very least his extensive use of kinescopes and other campy 50s materials remains fascinatingly suggestive. (JR)
There’s an undeniable novelty to this 1999 dramatic feature by writer-director-actor Sujit Saraf about Indian engineers living and working in Silicon Valley, but there’s also an undeniable tedium in the insularity it not only describes but embodies. The all-male group of friends and coworkers are plainly bored and alienated, a problem expressed with craft and taste but little urgency. The film’s publicity states that it has been made by, for, and about Silicon Valley engineers. It should also have a wider appeal among expatriate Indians and Indians in the urban centers of India. Anyone who fits one of these categories can probably find his or her own way to this; the rest of us have to relate to it rather voyeuristically. (JR) On the same program, two 1999 short films: Nancy M. Kwon’s The Question and Allison Lee’s Trick or Treat.
It must have been therapeutic for former management consultant Danny Yoon to throw caution to the wind and make this amateur 1999 comedy feature about his struggle to recuperate from a serious head injurya production in which he functions as writer, producer, director, cinematographer, editor, and lead actor. It might even be edifying for other people recovering from serious head injuries to laugh at Yoon’s jokes, including his satirical segments about New Age therapies. But what about the rest of us? This is good-natured and likeable as a serious form of fooling around, but I can’t say I found it very entertaining or interesting. The unvarnished acting charms initially through its brazen lack of pretense, then gets dull and duller. Extended clips from Plan 9 From Outer Space suggest that Yoon knows how bad this is, but that doesn
A weirdly affectless Japanese animated feature directed by Taro Rin, derived from a comic book series. It has more feeling for city architecture than for human formsall the characters have nearly identical matchstick legsand evokes The Matrix in terms of apocalyptic conceits. It bored me clean out of my wits. 97 min. (JR)