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Reviews for May 27th, 2010

The Juche Idea

Directed by Jim Finn.

In English and Korean with subtitles.
Inspired by a true story. This “documentary” follows a video artist (Yoon Jung Lee) from South Korea who visits a collective farm in North Korea where Juche artists reside. She travels there in order to breathe new life into Juche cinema by bringing it into the 21st Century. Juche (pronounced choo-CHAY) refers to the ideology of North Korean dictator Kim II-sung which, which established back in 1955, centered around the theory that people should be self-reliant and believe in the importance of coming together communally while following a leader. It’s essentially a form of communism designed to make North Korea’s dictators, Kim Il-sung and his, son, Kim Jung-il, more powerful and, concurrently, stifling any form of dissent. Kim Il-Sung believed that films ought to reflect the Juche philosophy of self-reliance. Instead of merely bombarding the audience with information and interviews about Juche, writer/director Jim Finn instead combines mockumentary-style footage, satire, propaganda and footage from Juche films in such a bizarre, imaginative and unique way that you can’t help but feel amused while you learning bits and pieces about Juche. When a Bulgarian journalist asks Yoon Jung Lee what she thinksabout the American government based on her experiences in America, she replies that American’s leaders are “like Spandau Prison fascists” and “ectotherms—ambush predators waiting in the sun for prey,” thereby provocatively insinuating that America is in the process of sliding into a fascist government that echoes of Kim Il-sung’s dictatorship in North Korea. Finn also includes a few brief, funny segments entitled “English as a Socialist Language” where a Russian tourist and native Korean communicate in a deadpan manner—in one of those segments, the Korean man tells the tourist that “All sports are enjoyed in Korea. The health of the people is the health of the nation,” and in another segment he tells him that “[Koreans] don’t pay [for medical care]. We believe it is a criminal offense to profit from illness.” In additional slice of crazy Juche propaganda, a Korean woman teaches a young boy how to say “Karl Marx was a friend of children.” At a running time of only 1 hour and 2 minutes The Juche Idea is an unconventional and wildly imaginative combination of humor, satire and faux documentary as a delightful and refreshing medium to enlighten the audience about Juche.
Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Lorber Films.
Opens at the Anthology Film Archives.

Sex and the City 2

Directed by Michael Patrick King .

Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her husband, Mr.Big (Chris Noth), no longer have a romantic spark together. She wants to spend two days away from him in her old apartment to write her book, and he reacts by asking to have two days off from her each and every week. Her friend, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), can’t put up with her boss’s rudeness anymore, so she quits her job at the law firm. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) struggles to deal with her annoying little children and their new nanny, Erin (Alice Eve), who prefers to walk around braless. Samantha (Kim Cattrall), an often horny PR agent, attends a premiere’s after party where she meets a wealthy producer, Shiekh Khalid (Art Malik), who invites her to stay at his plush hotel in Abu Dhabi in hopes that she can help provide a PR boost for business. He lets her good friends, Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte, tag along with her for the all-expenses-paid vacation to Abu Dhabi, “the new Middle East.” What ensues during the vacation itself won’t be spoiled here, but it’s worth noting that each of the four women become increasingly unlikable, annoying and narcissistic in a painfully unrealistic and over-the-top way that’s not even remotely amusing, intelligent or poignant. Each of them changes clothes and hairstyles so often that you’ll feel as though you’re watching a never-ending fashion show. They even get to show off their stylish clothes in the middle of the desert. The lazy, dull screenplay by writer/director Michael Patrick King aims for cheap, desperate jokes and silly visual gags all which fall flat on their faces. Even Samantha’s one-liners fail to generate real laughs. Did King really have to include cameos with Liza Minnelli and Miley Cyrus? By the time the movie finally comes to an end after a tortuous 2 hours and 26 minutes, you’ll be glad to get away from those four myopic, superficial characters. Sex and the City 2 is ultimately vapid, overlong, painfully unfunny, preposterous and, worst of all, boring. It’s so bad that it’s gone past good and back to bad again.
Number of times I checked my watch: 14
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

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