My Blueberry Nights, Body of War, Zombie Strippers, and More
We talk about Wong Kar-Wai's first English language film My Blueberry Nights and Phil Donahue joins Beth Accomando and Scott Marks to talk about his new documentary Body of War.
Tom Fudge : We're next going to talk about a new movie from the Hong Kong film maker Wong Kar-Wai. Wong Kar-Wai has made several critically acclaimed movies. The best known may be In the Mood for Love . He has a reputation for making romantic movies, and movies that are visually lush.
His new movie is called My Blueberry Nights , and it's the first English language film he's made. In this one, the main character Elizabeth leaves New York, following a spoiled love affair. Prior to her departure, she makes friends with a guy who manages a diner. He's played by Jude Law. Lizzie zooms off to Memphis, then Nevada, working odd jobs in bars and restaurants. In the process she gets to know a hard-drinking cop, played by David Strathairn, and a tough but mixed-up gambler played by Natalie Portman. Elizabeth, by the way, is portrayed by singer Nora Jones.
We're now going to talk about a movie called Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden . This movie is either a documentary or a mockumentary, depending on your point of view. It's written, directed and starred in by Morgan Spurlock, a political satirist who's previous movie, called Supersize Me , took on the fast food industry. If you've seen any movies by Michael Moore, you've got a pretty good idea of Spurlock's approach to film making.
In this movie, we learn that Spurlock is looking forward to the birth of his first child. The prospect of becoming a father, and having to shield his progeny causes him to say, “Doggone it! Someone's got to find that mean terrorist Osama Bin Laden.”
So he takes on the job. The result is he travels to the Middle East and South Asia, buttonholing locals to ask them if they happen to have seen Osama anytime recently.
The next movie we're going to talk about is a documentary film called Body of War , which was directed by Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue. In the movie we meet Tomas Young, a young man from Kansas City who volunteered to serve in the military after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He hoped to go to Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda but, instead, he ends up in Iraq. After just a few days he's shot and paralyzed. His injury causes him to use a wheelchair and causes many other disabilities, from sexual dysfunction to the inability to regulate his body heat.
The other story told in this movie is an examination of the Senate debate that lead up to the Congressional authorization that allowed President Bush to go to war with Iraq. You could say the other star of Body of War is West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, who spoke passionately against giving the president that authority.
Our next movie is Redbelt. Redbelt is the story of an instructor of Ju-Jitzu, a Japanese martial art that combines striking and grappling. It's popular among men who enjoy sport fighting. In Redbelt , a Los Angeles Ju-Jitzu teacher is caught in a bind, when a series of events brings him financial trouble. He hooks up with some shady characters who encourage him to get involved in a big fight that promises a big payoff. But the instructor soon finds out the fights are rigged, and he's faced with the question of whether to go ahead with the fight, and the dishonor it would bring, or go for the cash.
This movie stars British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who played the male lead in the movies Dirty Pretty Things and Kinky Boots . It is directed by the famous American playwright David Mamet, who took an interest in Ju-Jitzu after training for five years.
Before we close, there's a new zombie movie out called Zombie Strippers . Maybe the title gives us all we really need to say about it. But we'll find out.
- Beth Accomando , KPBS film critic.
- Phil Donahue , producer and co-director of Body of War .