Notebooks on Cities and Clothes
VHS Home Video
In this spare but provocative documentary, German director Wim Wenders explores new terrain in both form and content as he profiles minimalist Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto. Working in film and video, Wenders' movie is as much about his own experience with a new medium (small-format video) as well as an examination of Yamamoto's graceful designs and equally fluid philosophy about life. Yamamoto designs by thinking about the clothes as much as the people who will be wearing them, and this approach explains why issues of identity and geography play an essential role in Yamamoto's creative process. Notebooks is like a Zen Unzipped; it is a portrait of two artists at work, making connections between their respective fields and sharing thoughts about the importance of the past as it relates to the present, and how both influence the future. -- Alison Macor
D: Lynne Margulies and Joe Orr; with Andy Kaufman, Jerry "The King"
I Am From Hollywood
VHS Home Video
Waterloo Video, 1016 W. Sixth
Kaufman's comic genius shines in this frighteningly funny docu-comedy about the late actor's brief and baffling, intergender pro-wrestling career. Claiming invincibility over all grappling females, Kaufman smugly taunts and bitch-slaps his way through Memphis, Tennessee's baddest babes until local wrestling hero Jerry "The King" Lawler catches wind of Andy's shenanigans and piledrives him all the way to the hospital. The ensuing verbal warfare between the combatants is hysterical as Kaufman incenses the locals by suggesting they might alleviate their collective stench by raising bar soap awareness and toilet paper usage. This phase of Kaufman's career may be marked by obscure humor and perceived misogyny, but the film's female co-director seems to be okay with the joke. -- Taylor Holland
CD-ROM (or floppy discs) for
Mac* or PC
IdeaFisher Systems, Inc.
A certain reviewer said that Writer's Edge was something like "a thesaurus on steroids." Well, that got my attention. Now that I have it, I'm uncertain. Install this program in your word processor (it can be accessed under the Commands menu in MS Word 6.1, but not on earlier versions) and type "uncertain." Writer's Edge suggests a number of branching opportunities. Under Ideas/Words/Phrases, several hundred alternatives to "uncertain" include "apathetic, bleak, cynical, detached, diffident, disappointed, impatient, mad as a wet hen, unsure" and "yellow-bellied." I think I'll stick with uncertain and, using a phrase I came up with without the help of software, assert that Writer's Edge comes across like an office temp on too much cappuccino.
-- Jesse Sublett
D: Tsui Hark; with Cheu Man-check, Chan Ho, Song Ni, Xiong Xin Xin, Veronica
Chow, Wei Tin-chi.
VHS Home Video
Hong Kong movie mogul Tsui Hark, best known for producing the extremely popular Chinese Ghost Story series and directing such breathtaking, politically charged adventure pictures as Once Upon a Time in China and the dazzling Peking Opera Blues, returns to the dark, slyly subversive style of his earlier films with this latest effort. A complex tale of identity and loss disguised as a period martial-arts melodrama, The Blade stars fighting ace Cheu Man-check (Once Upon a Time in China IV and V) as the orphaned kung fu master who must retrain himself when he loses his sword arm in combat. Bursting with raw energy, delirious cinematography, vicious action sequences, and intense performances, The Blade is -- from its disturbing opening moments through the haunting denouement -- a vital, inspired work from one of the world's most dynamic filmmakers. This Long Shong video release can be found only at Austin's premier Chinese video store, Skyline Video, which recently moved to 1601 Ohlen Road, Suite D; 873-0585. -- Joey O'Bryan
D: Neal Isreal, Brad Swirnoff; with Chevy Chase, John Candy, Al Franken,
Laraine Newman, Howard Hesseman, Joe Flaherty, Gerrit Graham, Betty
VHS Home Video
Vulcan Video, 609 W. 29th
This was the full-blown comedy genre's answer to that other futuristic media vision of 1976, Network. In the unimaginable world of 1985, they'll allow just any old crazy thing on TV. From ads for proctology school, featuring a row of hairy butts, to Henry Kissenger calling Nixon an asshole -- ha ha. The humor's a little dated, but you'll see precursors to gags which became huge hits as much as a decade later. Damon Wayans' "The Head Detective" was flat-out stolen from a 30-second bit in this skit-packed, not-yet-stars studded effort. If you've already seen every SNL/SCTV available, find all your favorite stars in Tunnelvision.
-- Kayte VanScoy