By: Henry J. Fromage –
Last weekend’s library rental binge continues this week, and hence the Asian-inflected eclecticism, along with a documentary about one of science’s unsung heroes.
228. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
Hedy Lamarr was a lot of things- a European arthouse provocateur, a Hollywood starlet of the first order, a scandal-ridden tabloid headliner, a six-time wife and three-time mother, and the inventor of frequency-jumping, the science of which underlies almost all modern communication- including wifi, bluetooth, and cell phone networks. This documentary delves into all of the different faces of one of the most fascinating women of the 21st Century- a definite must watch for Hollywood and Science History fans.
229. Kung Fu Hustle
Stephen Chow’s live-action Looney Tune combines cartoon physics, 1930s Hong Kong period glamour, kung fu myth-making, and that signature Stephen Chow goofy magic to create a bizarre and thoroughly entertaining confection like only he can. Long may he reign.
230. Woman on the Beach
Hong Sang-soo’s been accused of making the same movie over and over again, and Exhibit B of what’s nearly a full alphabet of exhibits here will prove once more that this serial offender has never learned his lesson. But of course, what lesson is there to learn if your 2-3 iterations of the same ‘a director has drunken conversations with friends about life and tries to seduce a woman he shouldn’t’ story you make a year all play major film festivals and usually walk away with some hardware? Honestly, his poetic musings can be quite thought-provoking when his naked autobiography and clearly inflated sense of his own celebrity don’t get in the way first. This is one of the more polished and emblematic examples of a Hong Sang-soo film, so if you have to start somewhere, this is not a bad place to do so.
231. 20th Century Boys: Beginning of the End
This Japanese manga adaptation is the story of a group of schoolchildren friends who find that the weird little club they formed, complete with creepy apocalyptic symbol, appears to be the creepy apocalyptic cult that’s sweeping Japan in response to a blood-borne disease that is sweeping the world and destabilizing society. Lot’s of dodgy CGI, some sort of giant robot battle, and tons of sepia-toned flashbacks later, you realize you’ve been watching a complicated mythos that probably played out over quite a few issues of the manga boiled down into a largely followable but overly busy adaptation of something you probably would’ve never opted to try in the first place. Fans of the manga will likely have a blast, though, I assume.