Without A Hitch – 10 Definitive Directors’ Cameos In Their Own Movies

As film geeks throughout the blogosphere well know, an appearance by a director in their own film is a tradition established by Alfred Hitchcock. Hitch (or “Cock” as Teri Garr once claimed she called him to Francois Truffaut) had brief but notable appearances in 37 of his 52 films. Obviously excluding those who act in sizable roles in their own films (Woody Allen, Sylvester Stallone, Orson Welles, etc.) these are my favorites of the film maker folks that followed in Hitch’s footsteps:

1. Martin Scorsese in TAXI DRIVER (1976)

Scorsese has had brief bit cameos in a lot of his movies but it’s this appearance credited as “Passenger watching silhouette” that makes the biggest impression. As a nervous gun totting cuckolded husband, Scorsese tells his cabbie Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) to pull over and stay parked with the meter running outside the building where his wife is with another man. He talks about his revenge fantasy involving his 44 Magnum in the only scene in the movie in which we are creeped out by somebody other than the title character.

What puts this at the top of the list is that Scorsese actually shows some acting chops and a persuasive presence. His later performances in other’s movies, particularly Akira Kurosawa’s DREAMS and Robert Redford’s QUIZ SHOW, confirm TAXI DRIVER‘s hinted at prowess. Incidentally Scorsese can also be seen in a daylight street scene shot earlier in the film.

2. John Huston in THE TREASURE OF SIERRE MADRE (1948) Another American master who appeared in many movies, his own and others’, Huston stole a short but sweet scene from star Humphrey Bogart in this undeniable classic. Bogart’s down on his luck character Fred C. Dobbs makes the mistake of trying to bum money 3 times from Huston as an “American in Tampico in white suit”. Huston reluctantly complies but warns: “But from now on, you have to make your way through life without my assistance.” Luckily this was nothing but a movie line – Bogart and Huston assisted each other on a couple more classics afterwards (KEY LARGO and THE AFRICAN QUEEN).

3. Roman Polanski in CHINATOWN (1974) Perhaps it’s been all the op ed pieces on Polanski lately (Sometimes that have the same screen capture I have here) that helped to inspire this list but whatever the case this is a colossally classic cameo. In less than a minute of screen time, as a thug that Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes dismisses as a “midget”, Polanski convinces us that he actually slices Nicholson’s nose with a switchblade. It’s a moment that’s impossible to forget:

Still not convinced that it’s a classic cameo? Then check out this 12 inch articulated custom figure!

I mean come on! How many cameos have action figures representin’? Well, come to think of it, there is this guy:

4. George Lucas in STAR WARS: EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005) This is movie director as extra. For a member of a crowd scene in the last STAR WARS series entry (or the third if you’re into the revisionist re-jiggling thing), Lucas got himself decked out in alien garb and gave himself a name: Baron Papanoida. There’s an oddly lengthy bio at IMDb. And yes, there’s an action figure too.

5. Richard Linklater in SLACKER (1994)

Linklater’s role as “Should Have Stayed at Bus Station” sets into motion the stream of self consciousness exercise that he geared the movie to be:

It’s quite a loose likable persona that Linklater affects – one that kicks off his film career and also appears in animated form in WAKING LIFE (2001) – a sort of sequel (or at least spiritual follow-up) to SLACKER.

6. Hal Ashby in HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971)

Film babble blog favorite Ashby also does the “movie director as extra” thing as a hippy freak at a carnival in his counter culture cult classic. Of course, he was just dressed as usual and it’s not really a cameo; more of a brief shot that captures the director as a random passerby watching a mechanical toy train with Harold (Bud Cort) and Maude (Ruth Gordon). Ashby also shows up doing the extra thing again in a newsroom in BEING THERE (1980) – something I noticed just recently after missing it for years on many repeated viewings.

7. Francis Ford Coppola in APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)

So he’s the “Director of TV Crew” who barks orders at the soldiers as they run through his shot – is it an exaggeration of Coppola’s ego or the real thing? You decide:

8. David Lynch in TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992) Lynch has done a number of walk on parts in his films but here he gives himself an actual character: FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole who Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle Machlachlan) reports to. Lynch’s Gordon appeared on the TV series a few blink and miss them times and his bit for the prequel/origin story/whatever movie is pretty meager. So what gets him on this list? I guess it’s that a normal office scenario is skewed by the likes of David Bowie and flashes of a white faced pointy nosed circus wack job or whatever dancing around and this time Lynch himself is in the midst of it. Welcome to my nightmare, indeed:

9. Oliver Stone in WALL STREET (1987)

Yet another director that has taken bit or extra roles in multiple movies, Stone does a split screen sound bite appearance as a broker on the phone in one of the film’s many frenetic montages. No word whether he’ll reprise the role for the sequel.

10. Sam Raimi in THE EVIL DEAD TRILOGY (1981-1992) As documented by AMC Filmsite, Sam Raimi appeared:

1981: as a Hitchhiking Fisherman and the Voice of the Evil Force
1987: as a Medieval Soldier; and
1993: as a Knight in Sweatshirt and Sneakers, who assured Ash (Bruce Campbell): “You can count on my steel”

Peter Jackson pulled the same stunt by appearing in all 3 LORD OF THE RINGS movies.

Anybody else? I know this list is just a drop in the ocean so bring on your own favorites! You know where to put ’em.

More later…

Classic Films On The Big Screen In The Triangle Area

Prenote: This post is extremely localized about theaters in my area that show old movies so it might not appeal to some of my readers. However, I think it’s possible that out-of-towners will find some interest and may be inspired to comment about revival showings at theaters near them.

The summer season is overflowing with movie choices, but many in the Triangle may not know that there is a welcome antidote to the mind numbing “event movies” arriving weekly at the multiplexes. Favorite films from years past, both classic and cult, are being shown at a number of theaters and venues in the area alongside current releases. These screenings give moviegoers a chance to see on the big screen films they’ve loved before on television or DVD, or heard about but never seen, in all their 35 millimeter glory. Plus, they’re typically not as expensive as first run films.

Built in 1926, The Carolina Theater in Durham has a great reputation for revival shows with their popular weekend series of horror movies: “Retrofantasma” and a summer series that this year includes double features of Robert De Niro (“Taxi Driver”, “The Untouchables”), Alfred Hitchcock (“Rear Window” and “Vertigo”, Steven Spielberg (“Jaws and “Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom”)and John Belushi (“Animal House” and “The Blues Brothers”) features. “Retrofantasma”, billed as “a joyful jolt of terror and nostalgia”, has a dedicated audience for a roster ranging from “Silent Night, Bloody Night” to the tongue in cheek “Clue”. They may be scratchy old prints for the most part, but there’s no denying the thrill of seeing famous film history writ large.

Located in North Raleigh, The Colony Theater caters to the cult crowd; the kids who grew up on Lucas and Spielberg but leaned towards Tarentino and Lynch as they matured. “Cool Classics @ The Colony” has showcased a multitude of films with fanatic followings such as “Purple Rain”, “Eraserhead”, “Pulp Fiction” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. After 3 successful years they are starting a new series: “Cinema Overdrive” which will feature far out and obscure oddities like “Death Race 2000” (starring the recently deceased David Carradine) and Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels”.

Colony Theater General Manager Denver Hill, a film buff and 35 MM film collector, said that the “Cool Classics” often “do a lot better than the usual films” as it’s been “slow for indie films lately.” Hill, who has worked for the theater since 2002, also remarked that he expected the June 16th and 17th showings of the late 90’s Coen Brothers cult classic “The Big Lebowski” to make more money than the current well reviewed Broadway documentary “Every Little Step.” “Lebowski”, is a repeat performance as Hill explains: “90% of the films have been customer requests.”

The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh offerings may be a bit more highbrow, but they are just as crowd pleasing. Over the fast few decades there have been many film festival of such icons as Woody Allen and such noted genres as “film noir”. It should be noted that they could benefit from having more than one screening in the winter when movies are shown in their auditorium; multiple times when I tried to attend showings they were sold out or only single seats remained. This is a non-issue in the summer season as they have outdoor screenings that can accommodate more people (of course, those can get rained out). This year the highlights will be a Watergate revisited weekend with “All The President’s Men” and “Frost/Nixon”, a tribute to Paul Newman with a showing of “The Sting”, and at the end of August a 70th anniversary showing of “Gone With The Wind” with an accompanying documentary “The Making Of A Legend.”

The Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, in their “Movies By Mooonlight” Summer series shows mostly movies from the last year (“Twilight”, “Kug Fu Panda”, “Iron Man”, etc.) but does offer a few older titles: “Moonstruck” and “Wait Until Dark” are showing this Summer. Be forewarned: Koka booth rarely shows 35 MM prints (the last one was 3 years ago: the legendary “The Creature From The Black Lagoon”) – the films are projected from a DVD. Still, it’s a beautiful venue and a fine evening be had with the right companion, lawn-chairs and beverages.

The Galaxy Theater in Cary often screens older films, in the last year they’ve presented an overlooked beautifully restored Charlie Chaplin film – “Monsieur Verdoux” as well as “Lawrence Of Arabia” and “Double Indemnity.” The theater, which is something of an art-house multiplex, has several popular series such as the “Undiscovered Gem Series”, the “Silver Screen Spring Series”, and like a number of local theaters, a “Kids Summer Movie Series” that runs on weekday mornings.

And for almost 20 years there’s been the Friday midnight showing of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” * at The Rialto. Via email, Ambassador Entertainment owner Bill Peeples said that “attendance is high and consistent” for the long running late show that has played “every Friday at midnight since December, 1989.” Peeples, who with the Rialto owns the Colony, Six Forks, and Mission Valley Theaters hosts “Cinema, Inc”, billed as Raleigh’s oldest and finest non-profit film society offering classic film presentations once a month on Sunday night.

With the possible closing of the Varsity and Chelsea Theaters in Chapel Hill, one might wonder if more revival screenings might have changed their fate. This spring at the Chelsea, a retrospective of director Mark Rydell (including “On Golden Pond” and “The Rose”) drew respectable crowds so it shows that there is definitely an audience for vintage cinema in this area. If the historic Varsity and Chelsea theaters are to continue operation I hope they embrace the past as they look to the future.

Post note: For more information like show-times and directions and please click on the theater’s names in the article.

* I just blogged about seeing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” for the first time – read the post here.

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QUANTUM OF SOLACE And The Film Babble Blog Best Of Bond

QUANTUM OF SOLACE (Dir. Mark Forster, 2008)

I liked but did not love CASINO ROYALE – the 007 reboot debut of the robust Daniel Craig but I was way in the minority, mind you. Folks who never cared for a James Bond movie before, and many who had never seen one before as well, fell head over heels for the intensity of the lead man, the non-stop action set pieces, and the emotional realism that many thought the series would never have. Craig proved himself as a Bond with a difference; one that really bleeds with a powerful palpable anger bottled inside to form a fierce focus. He’s never in need of a gimmicky gadget to save him or a clever quip to break the tension. More BOURNE than Bond some critics claimed, but this was still a preferable approach to the dated fading status of the superspy.

Helmed by a different director (Marc Forster who has never directed an action film and man does it show) QUANTUM OF SOLACE picks up where CASINO ROYALE left off with Bond in revenge mode chasing down the killers of slain lover Vesper Lynd. His adventure begins with wretchedly cut and ferociously un-involving pre-credits car chase which unfortunately sets the standard for the entire episode. We follow Bond, who is still into running and jumping from rooftop to rooftop, from one locale to the next- Haiti, Bolivia, Austria (you gotta have globe trotting) as he kills government traitors and fights to bring down the ginormous terrorist organization Quantum, which is the only connection to the odd title (yes, I know it’s taken from a Ian Fleming short story and that with Bond titles don’t matter). That’s the best I can do with the plot or lack of it. Hard to make that a matter of much criticism when even the best Bond films have had thin narratives but when I didn’t care what the significance of a particular character was or what exactly was happening it’s hard to overlook.

Craig’s performance is the saving grace of this tangled tortured mess of a movie. He has perfected his unique take on the iconic character and has a scorching presence that often helps this material rise above its turgid trappings. It also helps that there’s a strong cast on the sidelines – the always appealing Judi Dench returns as M, Jeffrey Wright again plays Bond’s CIA ally Felix Leiter, and Olga Kurylenko does the best she can with her role as Bond’s requisite love interest Camille. The elements of sex and humor that I found largely lacking in the previous film are also absent here but what’s worse is that this exercise is sadly sans both style and substance. QUANTUM OF SOLACE is a failed follow-up to what I realize much more than before was one of the strongest entries of the Bond canon. CASINO ROYALE didn’t just think outside the box, it ripped the box to shreds and discarded the remains to build its own new box. That the new box is already rotting and needs to be replaced is a shame, but we know James Bond has overcome bigger obstacles and will resiliently return regardless.

And now, for the bloggosphere geek record, and because I feel many of my fellow film bloggers and readers haven’t grown up with 007 like I have, here’s my favorite films featuring the original international man of mystery:

Film Babble Blog’s Top Ten Best Of Bond

1. FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (Dir.Terence Young, 1963) Despite the heavily derived from Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST helicopter chase sequence, the fight scenes, and the now obligatory boat chase this is more of a straight thriller laced with romance than the expected high octane action ilk and that’s how I like Bond best. Sean Connery’s second performance as 007 captures him in suave stride as he romances a Russian agent (Daniela Bianchi) while battling SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion). Filled with finesse from the first frame to the last and still as sharp today as Rosa Clebb’s poisoned shoe spike was back in the Kennedy Camelot era.

2. GOLDFINGER (Dir. Guy Hamilton, 1964) It’s close to a tie between this and #1; this being the fine tuning of a formula that served the series very well. A megalomaniac (Gert Fröbe) sets out to commit “the crime of the century” by literally going for the gold (Fort Knox) but Bond (Connery) foils his plans and gets Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) in the process (also literally). The theme song sung by Shirley Bassey (who later did the better than the movie theme for DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER) is as definitive as the film itself.

3. THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (Dir. Lewis Gilbert, 1977) There’s a bias here because this was the first one I saw as a kid at the theater but it’s certainly considered the best of the Roger Moore Bond movies (Moore himself agrees). It has one of the best Bond babes (Barbara Bach), one of the best Bond theme songs (Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better”), and one of the best Bond automobiles (a Lotus Esprit that can convert to a submarine car). It also has the infamous overlarge henchman “Jaws” (Richard Kiel) who was popular enough to be shamelessly trotted out again in the next movie.

4. DR. NO (Dir. Terence Young, 1962) Yep, like the first 3 Elvis Costello albums the first 3 Bond movies are essential IMHO. Connery assumes the role immediately and this has much evidence of the cold cunning killer that folks these days seem to think Craig created. The shot of Ursula Andress emerging from the water in a white cotton bikini with a knife holster is forever etched into my psyche and into film history. Fittingly the scene was recreated with Halle Berry in DIE ANOTHER DAY and to show the tables have been turned in terms of sexual objectification nowadays, Daniel Craig did the honors at the beach in CASINO ROYALE.

5. ON HER MAJESTY’S SERCRET SERVICE (Dir. Peter Hunt, 1969) Maybe an odd choice to some because it featured a Bond one-timer (George Lazenby – who I believe is Marge Simpson’s favorite Bond) but I think it’s crucial for several reasons, the most important being that this is the one he gets married in. Former model Lazenby may have been a horrible actor but he’s got a grand movie surrounding him with the elegant Diana Rigg (fresh from The Avengers) as his bride, Telly Savalas as the most energetic version of Bond’s arch enemy Blofeld to be found in the series, and the first and still best ski chase Bond’s ever been in.

6. FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (Dir. John Glen, 1981) This was a noble and successful attempt to get Bond back down to earth (again literally) after the sublimely stupid STAR WARS cash-in MOONRAKER. Roger Moore’s 5th outing as the secret agent was nicely plotted with a great McGuffin (ATAC – Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator, a thingie that looked like a big calculator) and a toned down sense of self satire, i.e. fewer one-liners. There is genuine drama involving yet another revenge scenario amongst the action sequences which include the expected ski-chases, underwater fights, and a mountain climbing climax which defines the word “gripping”.

7. GOLDENEYE (Dir. Martin Campbell, 1995) Honestly, though I thought he was well cast, I wasn’t a big fan of the Pierce Brosnan Bond films. I felt that it all had been done to death and that the series should retire. This film does address that with M (Judi Dench – the only linking cast member to the Craig Bonds) calling Bond a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur” and a “relic of the cold war”. There is a streamlined effort present to preserve and re-invigorate the adventures of 007 and Brosnan here for his first of five films is well up to the task even if the formulaic packaging falters. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of fun to be had so it makes the grade.

8. THUNDERBALL (Dir. Terence Young, 1965) Err, make that the first 4 films! Michael G. Wilson, producer and screenwriter of many Bond movies, not long ago remarked “We always start out trying to make another FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and end up with another THUNDERBALL.” As Bond blue-prints go though that’s a pretty good one to end up with. While it’s bogged down with too many underwater fights, THUNDERBALL has a great villain in Adolfo Celi as Emilio Largo (SPECTRE #2) and features Connery’s last best performance as Bond (he pretty much walked through 3 others after this including the weird remake NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN in 1983). I believe this makes the list again because of my love of it as a kid and my ironic fondness for the swinging theme by Tom Jones. Austin Powers took a lot of notes on this one.

9. THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (Dir. John Glen, 1987) Maybe I’m just throwing a bone to everybody’s least favorite Bond Timothy Dalton or maybe I just have a thing for every actor’s first time in the role but this was a fair effort to move the franchise into a new more realistic direction after the parting of Roger Moore. Dalton, who was excellent as the moustache twirling villain in HOT FUZZ a few years back, brings his stage training to the part and while the standard cold war plot (itself a relic) holds no surprises there is considerable charm and a nice chemistry with Maryam d’Abo, definitely one of my favorite Bond women.

10. LIVE AND LET DIE (Dir. Guy Hamilton, 1973) Roger Moore’s first is again a favorite from my youth and one I always stop and watch when coming across it when flipping through the channels. It has the key elements – great theme song (by Paul McCartney and Wings), great action set-pieces (definitely the best boat chase of the canon), a great lovely lady (Jane Seymour), and a great edgy adversary (Yaphet Kotto). Bond’s brush with Blaxploitation is only marred by the worst, and most embarrassing, deaths of a villain (or of anybody) of all the movies – don’t worry no Spoiler but you’ve been warned.

Whew! Well, that’s my best of Bond. If you are weary of going to see what is surely going to be #1 at the box office this weekend, you may consider catching up with one or two of the classics above.

More later…

Paul Newman R.I.P. (1925-2008)

One of the most solid actors to walk the planet in the last century has just left us. I suspect many of my fellow film bloggers out there are too young to truly know the depths of his work so I would suggest filling NetFlix queues with Newmans finest. Undisputed classics such as THE HUSTLER, HUD, COOL HAND LUKE, and Sydney Lumet s THE VERDICT are highly recommended. As are his fun period piece buddy films with Robert Redford – BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and THE STING.

Extracurricular work would include Sydney Pollack s ABSENCE OF MALICE, NOBODY’S FOOL, and MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE. Honestly you can’t go wrong with a Paul Newman movie – even BLAZE and THE TOWERING INFERNO have their merits. He worked with many of the great directors – Alfred Hitchcock on TORN CURTAIN, Robert Altman on BUFFALO BILL AND THE INDIANS, Martin Scorsese on THE COLOR OF MONEY (which Newman won the Best Actor Oscar for) and even the Coen Brothers on the unjustly underrated THE HUDSUCKER PROXY (pictured at the top of this post).

His comical side has been overlooked in many of the obits I ve read the last day or so but his appearances on Letterman over the years have been hilarious self-effacing affairs – check out this clip on youtube. Its fitting that his last role was the voice of a 1951 Hudson Hornet Automobile named Doc Hudson in Pixars CARS. Nice that the wee ones will get an intro to Mr. Newman there.

So put some Newmans Own popcorn in the microwave, fire up the DVD player and pay proper tribute to the man.

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Meanwhile, At Your Local Arthouse Theater…

In a Summer filled with bombastic blockbusters noisily cramming into the multiplexes weekend after weekend it can be easy to miss what’s playing at your local arthouse theater. At my hometown theater, the Varsity (where I also work part-time), there are 2 new (well, new to my area) foreign films which just may be worth pulling yourself away from the glut of CGI McMovies to check out:

TELL NO ONE (Dir. Guillaume Canet, 2006)

This French thriller’s tagline is one that a movie publicist would die for: “8 years ago, Alex’s wife was MURDERED. Today…she emailed him”.

In the first few casually romantic minutes we are introduced to a pediatrician (François Cluzet) married to his long time love (Marie-Josée Croze) who we see in a flashback as kids carving their initials into a tree. The tree is near a lake where the couple often go skinny dipping. One fateful night Croze disapears in the woods and is brutally murdered while Cluzet is out cold from a blow to the head by an unseen assailant.

As the tagline says, we cut to 8 years later and Cluzet is still emotionally wounded as he goes through his daily routines and still visits the parents of his deceased wife. He receives the shocking email with a link to a video showing his wife alive and the message: “Tell no one. We’re being watched”. The police have uncovered 2 new corpses at the scene of the crime, Cluzet is implicated and is forced to go on the lam.

It’s been called Hitchcockian though I think it has more in common with more modern works like Roman Polanski’s FRANTIC also sharing the unnerving tension of George Sluizer’s THE VANISHING (the original 1988 one, not the awful American remake). The pacing and stream-lined structure is gripping throughout even when the convolutions of the last third come close to throwing it off track. A chase as the cops close in through the streets of Paris is a stand out sequence really revving it up when Cluzet attempts to cross a multi-lane freeway on foot which actually doesn’t recall the mystery masters of yesteryear – it recalls Eddie Murphy’s mad-dash dodging motorists in BOWFINGER, and I mean that in the best possible way.

The only downside is that TELL NO ONE would doubtfully survive multiple viewings. Some of the twists and turns can be sensed way in advance and the thrills of guessing would likely wear very thin. Movies that are by design so built upon plot manipulations are often extremely unappealing on a second viewing, I mean do you feel like watching THE SIXTH SENSE again? I didn’t think so.

Anyway, the cast is spot on with Cluzet’s intensely precise performance keeping the film grounded (for the most part) while Kristen Scott Thomas, the only name that most Americans would recognize in the cast) has some good almost comical moments as his sister’s (Marina Hands) lesbian lover.

The soundtrack has the goods too – Otis Redding’s “For Your Precious Love” sets the alluring tone at the beginning and the most moving use of a Jeff Buckley song I’ve witnessed on film occurs when “Lilac Wine” serenades a funeral cremation scene. As overused adjectives in movie reviews go I’ve never been a fan of “taut” but this is indeed a highly entertaining and, yes, a very taut thriller even if it is a bit of a throwaway.

UP THE YANGTZE (Dir. Yung Chang, 2007)

The biggest hydroelectric dam in history, the Three Gorges Dam in China, is bringing massive changes to the region and customs of the residents on the edge of the Yangtze River. Chinese-Canadian director Yung Chang explores the paths of a couple of young people (Yu Shui and Chen Bo Yu) who are attempting to abandon the peasant farming life of their elders with jobs on a cruise ship offering “farewell tours” for wealthy tourists who Chang in his spare narration tells us are looking for a sort of “ancient China that doesn’t exist anymore”. As the river rises and large communities are displaced, this documentary takes its time and makes no pat conclusions or damning statements, it simply lays out its subjects bare.

Yu Shui (given the English name “Cindy” for her job on the Victoria Queen river liner) and Chen Bo Yu (renamed “Jerry” -likewise) learn their barings aboard while the folks ashore struggle to relocate and re-assimilate. UP THE YANGTZE is a mediation and may be too plodding and slow to capture many moviegoers minds as it rambles down some strains of daily life on the river. There are many pointed passages though and a concluding series of time lapse shots of Shui’s family home being engorged and completely drowned by the flooding water is greatly gripping illustrating Chang’s comment: “Imagine the Grand Canyon being turned into a Great Lake”. I’d definitely recommend UP THE YANGTZE but more for its educational content than its entertainment value though it’s hardly lacking on that front.

More later…