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Film at Wit's End
A conversation with the Godfather of American experimental cinema. [2]
Jerry Johnson

Full-Frontal Comedy
The Full Monty follows some ordinary, out-of-work guys trying to make big bucks in the world of nude dancing. [3]
Stacey Richter

Irma Vep
The French get existential in this modern-day Day For Night. [4]
Devin D. O'Leary

This Movie's a Crime
Hoodlum robs viewers of what could have been a great movie; director Mike Leigh works overtime to make Career Girls something special. [5]
Mark Jordan

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
The Movie Guru finds that Rolaids won't cure his Fire Down Below. [6]
Zak Weisfeld

The Bare Necessities
The Full Monty lets it all hang out. [7]
Jim Ridley, Noel Murray, and Donna Bowman

Film Reviews
The Chronicle's film reviews. [8]

A guide to documentaries on insects and a review of Dracula vs. Frankenstein (all video). [9]

Really Basic Instincts
Every week, we pick a movie genre for your enhanced rent 'n' view pleasure. [10]
Jesse Fox Mayshark

Video reviews from our glassy-eyed couch potato critic. [11]
Scott Phillips

Having It All
The PBS special Affluenza examines the growing malady of excessive consumerism. [12]
Vance Lauderdale

'Tis the Season
The lazy man's guide to TV, plus "The Week in Sloth". [13]
Devin D. O'Leary

Now What?
What's the matter, couldn't find a review of that blockbuster film you're excited about? We certaintly don't want to leave you disappointed -- why not try some of these larger-than-life movie links? [14]

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Talk Back
If you're one of the few who didn't think Volcano blew, The Lost World bit, or The Fifth Element was one element too many, here's the forum to defend your opinion--crazy though it may be.

Volume I, Issue 15
September 15 - September 22, 1997

H e's famous and influential, but I regret to admit I've never seen any of Stan Brakhage's experimental films. The veteran visual poet's 250 short pieces have influenced an entire generation of filmmakers, from MTV video artists to Oliver Stone to university film students. This article certainly makes him sound worthy: Touching on a diverse set of influences that includes Kenneth Anger, Akira Kurosawa, Jean Cocteau, Vittorio De Sica, Sergei Eisenstein, John Cassavetes, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Brakhage discusses such topics as the current state of the art, the laziness of postmodern film aesthetics, and his love/hate relationship with Hollywood movies. It's a terrific interview for video-rentin' couch potatos and serious cinephiles alike. Who knows, maybe someday I'll actually see some of the man's films.

Unfortunately, I've already seen one of the films included in this week's reviews. Why "unfortunately"? Because it was Fire Down Below, the most laughable Steven Seagal movie yet (and that's saying a lot). Though the title evokes visions of a man who eats too many jalepeño poppers and gets diarrhea, the movie's really about an E.P.A. agent's fight against pollution. Get this: when he's not beating up thugs for irresponsibly dumping toxic waste, the multitalented Seagal can be seen playing gee-tar and crooning with the local yokels. A hilarious review provides the full, brutal details; and this one and this one summarize the idiocy quite nicely as well. What was I doing seeing a Seagal film in the first place? Don't ask.

I should have seen The Full Monty instead; every reviewer seems to give it two paunches up. I'm a little wary, though, since watching big fat men dance around naked isn't exactly my idea of a good time. Wasn't Chris Farley's flab-flopping Saturday Night Live-skit performance, auditioning topless for Chippendale's opposite Patrick Swayze, enough? Apparently not. This reviewer had an enormous time, and so did this one and this one. With Stallone gaining 40 pounds for Cop Land, it looks like cinematic corpulence is making a comeback.

Other reviews this week:

If you're bugged by the current crop of movies and just want to sit back and point your antennae at some groovy video, both our Scanlines and our Video-a-Go-Go columns give the lowdown on rentable insect and animal flicks (including the recent Microcosmos). For camp/horror fans, Scanlines also recommends Dracula vs. Frankenstein, while our Videodrome column chops to the heart of the matter with reviews of movies in the Friday the 13th series.

And, for those of you too darned cheap to actually pay for visual stimuli, here's a couple of scrappy articles about what's on free TV. The aptly-titled Idiot Box column lists the best and worst of the fall season's new shows, while a summary of a PBS documentary called Affluenza explains how our consumer-based culture has made mush of our collective souls. I would love to see Affluenza, but I've got to rush down to Sears -- I hear they've got a really bitchin' appliance sale.

From The Vaults

The Film Vault Curious about a particular director's work? Not sure what to rent at the video store? Enjoy reading several contrasting opinions of the same film? This is the place for you. Hundreds of reviews lie at your fingertips, sortable by genre, date or director.

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