Ringo Lam, one of the best Asian action directors in the last few decades, delivers a scorching tale with Sky on Fire. Lam may not be as popular as John Woo but his mark on cinema is indelible. In particular, his 1987 City on Fire was a definite influence on Reservoir Dogs.
Sky on Fire (Chongtian huo) revolves around the theft of a truck containing experimental stem cells that can potentially cure cancer. Hsiao-chuan Chang, Amber Kuo, and Daniel Wu headline. Sky on Fire contains double-crosses, an exciting car chase, another chase over rooftops and an escalating sense of dread over who will control the stem cell technology.
Christine should not be confused with the 1983 John Carpenter film based on a Stephen King novel. This Christine provides Rebecca Hall with a magnificent showcase for her talent playing real life news anchor Christine Chubbuck, who worked at a small market in Florida. Christine is a film drenched in the 1970s with an excellent era soundtrack and a cold look at television reporting in the years that originated the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality. Tracy Letts, Michael Hall and J. Smith-Cameron co-star.
Christine deals mainly with Hall’s character as she fends her way as a television personality trying to get respect from the male mentality that rules the airwaves. One scene that stands out in particular has Hall approaching a happy couple at a restaurant and chatting them up as potential interview subjects. This occurs after her mother has dissed her. Long hours with no play take their toll on Chubbuck, who begins to display increasingly neurotic symptoms that affect her job performance. In real life, Chubbuck committed suicide during a live broadcast.
If you recognize the name James Osterberg you’re one step ahead of the game. Most know Osterberg by his rock nom de plume Iggy Pop. Gimme Danger, the title taken from a Stooges song, documents the history of the band that Iggy fronted, told in a linear manner from director Jim Jarmusch.
Jarmusch previously made a rock doc on Neil Young called Year of the Horse, which, while a solid documentary, was hampered by Young occasionally throwing Jarmusch out of the room. In Gimme Danger, none of the people on display have anything to hide. In fact, other than Pop and a few other non-original members, all of the Stooges, including brothers Scott and Ron Asheton, have sprung this mortal coil.
Vintage clips, concert footage and archival and current interviews inform the viewer as to the importance of The Stooges in the chronology of rock music. The Velvet Underground may have influenced them, yet The Stooges went on to influence that shape of everything that came after their heyday, which lasted from 1968 through 1971.
Rock writer Lester Bangs, who like the Stooges, lived for a time in Detroit, famously wrote about a bootleg LP of their last concert in the Motor City. Bangs notes how you can hear a bottle that was thrown on stage breaking across the strings of a guitar. As far out a subject as the Stooges are, this is possible the most normal and composed film of Jarmusch’s career.
Film Facts: Stooges, Christine + more This was reposted for my personal reading use