Dennis Schwartz'
Short Reviews 
'K'  11


KAMA SUTRA: A TALE OF LOVE (director/writer: Andrzej Wajda; screenwriter: Jerzy Stefan Stawinski/based on the short story by Mr. Stawinski; cinematographer: Jerzy Lipman; editor: Halina Nawrocka; music: Jan Krenz; cast: Teresa Izewska ('Daisy'), Wienczyslaw Glinski (Lieutenant 'Splinter'), Tadeusz Janczar (Corporal Korab), Stanislaw Mikulski ('Slim'), Emil Karewicz ('Wise'); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Stanislaw Adler; Home Vision Cinema; 1956-Poland-in Polish with English subtitles)

A temptuous tabla played by Ustad Khan gives this English speaking film an air of beauty. Kama Sutra (lessons in love) is a 16th century tale of a servant girl who seduces a princess's (Sarita) prospective husband. Maya (Varma) is the servant girl the prince is obsessed with but won't marry. The film is disappointing as a women's liberation film. Its inane message is that a woman must learn how to please her man, or else she should expect to be shunned by the man. It is hard to believe that a film derived from such a great body of work as the Kama Sutra could be so dull and witless. GRADE: C-

KANAL (director/writer: Andrzej Wajda; screenwriters: Jerzy Stefan Stawinski/based on the short story by Mr. Stawinski; cinematographer: Jerzy Lipman; editor: Halina Nawrocka; music: Jan Krenz; cast: Teresa Izewska ('Daisy'), Wienczyslaw Glinski (Lieutenant 'Splinter'), Tadeusz Janczar (Corporal Korab), Stanislaw Mikulski ('Slim'), Emil Karewicz ('Wise'), Vladek Sheybal (Composer); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Stanislaw Adler; Janus; 1956-Poland-in Polish with English subtitles)

WW11 partisans are trapped in the sewers of Warsaw, as they try to escape from the Nazis during the 1944 Uprising. A picture of considerable worth. It tackles as best it could a rather gloomy subject. GRADE: B

KEEPER, THE (director/writer/producer: Joe Brewster; cinematographer: Igor Sunara; editor: Tom McArdle; music: John Petersen; cast: Giancarlo Esposito (Paul Lamont), Isaach de Bankole (Jean Baptiste), Regina Taylor (Angela Lamont), Ron Brice (Ross), O.L. Duke (Baker), Arthur French (Jimmy), Sam Wright (Santana), Alvaleta Guess (Officer Jones); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jordi Torrent; Kino International; 1995)

Esposito is a guard at a Brooklyn detention center, studying to be a lawyer, interested in helping the prisoners learn about their rights. He believes Isaach, also a Haitian, has been falsely charged with rape. So he bails him out but then finds to his chagrin that Isaah is at his home, asking for a place to live. His wife (Regina) is at first reluctant to have a man accused of rape living in her house, but soon warms up to him to the detriment of her marriage. Esposito becomes very unsure of himself, questioning his Haitian heritage he received from his father's side, and becomes alarmingly jealous of Isaah. The film begins and ends on very powerful notes, but it lacks clear vision to sustain it for its entirety. GRADE: C

KILLING ZOE (director/writer: Roger Avary; cinematographer: Tom Richmond; editor: Kathryn Himoff; music: Tomandandy; cast: Eric Stoltz (Zed), Julie Delpy (Zoe), Jean-Hugues Anglade (Eric), Gary Kemp (Oliver), Tai Thai (Francois), Bruce Ramsay (Ricardo), Kario Salem (Jean); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Samuel Hadida; October Films; 1994-United States/France-in English and French with English subtitles)

A bloody awful mess. It is about the American safecracker Stoltz going to Paris to meet a friend of his that he hasn't seen for 11-years (Anglade). The purpose of the trip is to rob a bank. While there, he falls in love with a prostitute (Julie). She is also a student and works in the bank his heroin pals will violently rob. The only redeeming features to this crazy yarn are its high energy levels and good camera work. GRADE: C

KING KONG (director/producer: Merian Cooper/Ernest Schoedsack; screenwriters: James Ashmore Creelman/Ruth Rose/story by Mr. Cooper and Edgar Wallace; cinematographers: Eddie Linden/Vernon Walker/J.O. Taylor; editor: Ted Cheesman; music: Max Steiner; cast: Fay Wray (Ann Darrow), Robert Armstrong (Carl Denham), Bruse Cabot (Jack Driscoll), Frank Reicher (Capt. Englehorn), Sam Hardy (Charles Weston), Noble Johnson (Native Chief), James Flavin (Second Mate), Steve Clemento (Witch King), Victor Long (Lumpy); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; RKO; 1933)

A giant ape is removed from his natural habitat and brought to NYC as part of our need to be voyeurs. In this most enjoyable of Hollywood hokum films we are treated to the memorable scene of the ape holding Fay atop the Empire State Building, while she screams. We have fallen in love with this movie because we distrust our civilization and feel betrayed that we have lost our sense of nature. We want the ape to love Fay; and, we are lulled into believing that beauty can kill the beast. GRADE: B

KING OF KINGS (director: Nicholas Ray; screenwriter: from the New Testament/Philip Yordan; cinematographers: Manuel Berenguer/Milton Krasner/Franz Planer; editors: Harold Kress/Renee Lichtig; music: Miklos Rozsa; cast: Jeffrey Hunter (Jesus Christ), Robert Ryan (John the Baptist), Siobhan McKenna (Mary), Rip Torn (Judas); Runtime: 165; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Samuel Bronston; MGM; 1961)

Some disdainful critics called this movie, "I was a teenage Jesus." In due time, the picture regained respectability and is now considered one of the better Bible pictures. It is told in a simple, straightforward manner. GRADE: B

KING OF MARVIN GARDENS (director/producer: Bob Rafelson; screenwriter: Jacob Brackman; cinematographer: Laszlo Kovacs; editor: John F. Link 11; cast: Jack Nicholson (David Staebler), Bruce Dern (Jason Staebler), Ellen Burstyn (Sally), Julia Anne Robinson (Jessica), Scatman Crothers (Lewis), Charles Lavine (Grandpop), John P. Ryan (Surtees), Arnold Williams (Rosko), Sully Boyar (Lebowitz); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR;Columbia TriStar; 1972)

Atlantic City, as in monopoly, where 2 brothers play a game; one a mind game of withdrawal from worldly affairs; the other is into all sorts of get-rich-quick schemes. An original story, unfortunately it still has not gotten the recognition it richly deserves. GRADE: B

KISS OR KILL (director/writer/producer: Bill Bennett; cinematographer: Malcolm McCulloch; editor: Henry Dangar; cast: Frances O'Connor (Nikki Davis), Matt Day (Al Fletcher), Chris Haywood (Detective Hummer), Barry Otto (Adler Jones), Andrew S. Gilbert (Crean), Barry Langrishe (Zipper Doyle), Max Cullen (Stan); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Jennifer Bennett; Universal Studios Home Video/October Films; 1997-Australia)

A couple of scam artists murder one of their victims and go on the lam in the outback. An intelligently done character study of the young couple. There are many twists to this tale, and we are left to ponder who is doing the killings. GRADE: B

KOLYA (director: Jan Sverak; screenwriters: Zdenek Sverak/based on a story by Pavel Taussig; cinematographer: Vladimir Smutny; editor: Alois Fisarek; music: Ondrej Soukup; cast: Zdenek Sverak (Frantisek Louka), Andrej Chalimon (Kolya), Libuse Safrankova (Klara), Ondrej Vetchy (Mr. Broz),  Irina Livanova (Nadezda); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Eric Abraham/Jan Sverak; Miramax Films; 1996-Czech-in Czech with English subtitles)

Everything works out beautifully, in this sugary tale of a 55-year-old cellist (Zdenek). He marries a Russian woman with a five year old son in 1988, during the last days of the Russian occupation. He does it for a chance to get money to pay off his debts and buy a Trabant (model name of a Czech car). She soon deserts him to emigrate to West Germany since she now has Czech papers and a boyfriend there. He gets stuck with the kid, Kolya (Chalimon). The old cellist is really a nice guy. But the film is manipulative. It won an Oscar for best foreign picture. GRADE: C+

KONGA (director: John Lemont; screenwriters: Aben Kandel/Herman Cohen; cinematographer: Desmond Dickinson; editor: Jack Slade; music: Gerard Schurmann; cast: Michael Gough (Dr. Charles Decker), Margo Johns (Margaret), Jess Conrad (Bob Kenton), Claire Gordon (Sandra Banks), Jack Watson (Supt. Brown); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Nathan Cohen/Stuart Levy; American International Pictures; 1961-UK)

Badly acted monster movie, that is fun to watch. The insane scientist (Gough) injects a chimp with a growth serum and starts ordering the chimp to kill people he doesn't care for. Eventually the chimp grows larger than King Kong and the British Army is called in to take him down. In the background we see Big Ben, not the Empire State Building. GRADE: C

KRZYSZTOF KIESLOWSKI: I'M SO-SO (director/writer: Krzysztof Wierzbicki; cinematographer: Jacek Petrycki; editor: Milenia Fiedler; music: Zbigniew Preisner; cast: Krzysztof Kieslowski; Runtime: 56; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Karen Hjort; First Run Features; 1995-Denmark/Poland-in Polish with English subtitles)

On March 13, 1996, the noted Polish film maker, Krzysztof Kieslowski, died of heart failure in a Warsaw hospital. He had been retired since the completion of Red in 1994, but was contemplating a return to work on a new trilogy of films about heaven, hell, and limbo. He has made such memorable features as Camera Buff, Decalogue, The Double Life of Veronique, and the three colors trilogy (Blue, White, Red). Less than a year before his death, Kieslowski agreed to be the subject of an hour-long documentary by his long- time assistant, Krzysztof  Wierzbicki. It featured Kieslowski's recollections of his life and movies, along with several candid shots of the director relaxing and enjoying his retirement. K. offers insights into why he started out making documentaries. They gave him a chance to make films about "people who lead real lives." The title comes from Kieslowski's belief that people should not lie about how they're feeling just for the sake of polite conversation. As a result, when someone asks him how he's doing, he might say "I'm doing so-so." GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"