Dog Days of Summer

heatwave.jpgLife Inside: The mercury soared past 100 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, causing me to draw the blinds, turn on the fans, and watch screener tape after screener tape. Screener tapes are those that have been submitted by producers, sales agents, or distributors to the film festival for which I am serving as a screener. I watch each tape and write my comments.

A few were very good, some were quite interesting, and others didn’t grab me at all. What makes this kind of work a bit frustrating for a movie writer such as myself is that I can’t, in good conscience, write about most of them, because they have not screened publicly. I enjoy the “work,” though, and on a hot summer day with no money in my pocket, it was an ideal way to spend a few hours.

My cable television converter and broadband modem were both repossessed on Saturday, which is what happens when you fall two months behind on your payments. I shall miss having *any* television reception, but, because I have mounds of tapes and DVDs to watch, I can’t complain about that, really. On the other hand, I am already missing my broadband modem, which now leaves me without any Internet access at home. So I write this, surreptitiously (sp?), on my final day of work at an unnamed non-profit organization. Another branch of the same organization may allow me to do volunteer work in exchange for Internet access, so I hope to continue my online scribbling while looking for a new job.

Cinema Scene: Whilst SPIDER-MAN 2 remains firmly emwebbed in the first position of the sales chart, ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY pulled about $28 million worth of business for the #2 spot. Being the elegant sophisticate that I am, I worshipped at the Church of Will Farrell and found myself laughing even more than I had anticipated. ANCHORMAN is silly and slapshot and not much of a movie, but I was entertained thoroughly, and on that particular evening, it was exactly what I wanted and needed.

Coming this Friday, July 16, is ZHOU YU’S TRAIN, in which Gong Li plays the title character, an artisan who takes the train to visit her poet lover, Tony Leung Ka Fai. She meets another man who causes her to question her love.

DVD News: Due out tomorrow is the Japanese black comedy 2LDK, which I ordered last week but have yet to receive.

Coming next Tuesday, July 20, is Yasujiro Ozo’s EARLY SUMMER, from the Criterion Collection. List price is a hefty US$39.95, but Criterion always does a superior job with their releases. This edition includes a new essay by David Bordwell and an audio commentary by Donald Richie.

Over the weekend, I watched Fox’s Region 1 version of IN THE LINE OF DUTY IV (1989), a superb action picture directed by Yuen Woo Ping. Featuring Cynthia Khan, Donnie Yen, and Michael Wong, the frames can barely contain the personal and motorized mayhem that constantly threaten to burst out of the television and into your living room.

The next night I popped in the all-region version of IN THE LINE OF DUTY III (1988), which was released by Universe. I really should have watched this one first, because I thought it didn’t quite measure up to its sequel on the “most thrills packed into 90 minutes” scale. On the other hand, the sequel doesn’t have Michiko Nishawaki, and the muscular, nasty intense level of the fights are much more brutal in ITLOD III. So get ’em both, and take your pick.

ITLOD note: My understanding from other web sites is that YES, MADAM! is considered the second in the series, though it was made first. Considered first in the series is ROYAL WARRIORS, aka ITLOD II, another terrific action picture. Now I’ll have to watch those again!

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