Brief Encounters

Audition, Dead or Alive: Final, Dracula: Pages From a Virgin's Diary, and The In-Laws.


Runs Fri., May 23-Thurs., May 29 at Grand Illusion

Dating is hell. You can almost understand why a middle-aged TV producer, widowed seven years earlier, resorts to an underhanded scheme to meet women. Auditioning actresses for a nonexistent movie, Aoyama falls for beautiful ex-dancer Asami, who seems so sweet, so sad, and so receptive. Bad idea. Asami abruptly reveals a very dark side that sends the 1999 Audition spiraling into the realm of manga-influenced horror. A simple shot of Asami, a ringing phone, and a big burlap bag in the foreground radiates unplaceable unease; something's very wrong, but you're not sure what until something (someone?) suddenly moves. (I recall viewers at SIFF '00 getting a huge jolt from the scene.) Audition does sacrifice its prior mood and subtlety as director Takashi Miike (see Dead or Alive: Final, below) finally pulls out the stops with disorienting shock cuts, hallucinations, and torture. "Words create lies. Pain can be trusted," says Asami. So think carefully before you next log onto And don't lie about your profileor else. (NR) BRIAN MILLER DEAD OR ALIVE: FINAL

Runs Fri., May 23-Thurs., May 29 at Grand Illusion

The original DOA, which showed at SIFF '00, was a lot more fun than this rather subdued trilogy enderif by "fun" you mean gore, sex, and an audacious final leap into sci-fi. Here, the two deadpan leads from DOA (Sho Aikawa and Elvis-haired Riki Takeuchi) assume different roles in 2346 Yokohama (actually Hong Kong), where procreation is banned. As conscience- stricken replicants wrestle with their virtual humanity, it's Blade Runner by way of Band of the Hand. There's no plot so much as random manga panels writ large on a screen turned yellow-green with CGI jaundice. The ultraprolific Takashi Miike (see Audition, above) works on the cheap, and he works rather too often for his own good. As a homo-fascist government battles a polyglot band of outsiders (including one hunk who delivers his lines in fluent American English), you see echoes of Miike's City of Lost Souls. This time the multiethnic rebels are winning, but Final's just a variation on tired old themes. (NR) B.R.M. DRACULA: PAGES FROM A VIRGIN'S DIARY

Runs Fri., May 23-Thurs., May 29 at Little Theatre

I'm no dance critic, but one thing I know about filmed dance is that you should honor the performers and the choreography by showing it relatively whole (see: Top Hat) not frantically piecemeal (see: Chicago). I doubt Canadian cult director Guy Maddin knows much about dance, either, so I'm willing to forgive some of the deliberate crudity of his retro take on the Dracula myth. Some. It's all done in the manner of a silent movie, appropriate to its 1897 setting (roughly the birth of cinema). The digitally tweaked Diary is full of jumps, skips, and glitches designed to suggest vintage celluloid, all broken and decayed, right down to the colorization that mimics hand-tinting. Dialogue and exposition come via title cards, and sound effects are overlaid both charmingly and jarringly. It's all very precious, yet Diary is considerably less precious and campy than Maddin's earlier signature works (Tales From the Gimli Hospital, Archangel, etc.). You get the usual feverish hints of repression and pathology ("Unclean!" "Immigrants!" "Vampyr harem!"), but there's something entirely more serious beneath it, thanks to the underlying Royal Winnipeg Ballet production of Dracula (choreographed by Mark Godden in 1998 and set to extracts from Mahler). I just wish Maddin were less faithful to his ersatz-dated stylewhich, frankly, is getting rather dated itselfand more faithful to this ballet. Show me the dance, not the deconstruction. As doomed, bitten Lucy, Tara Birtwhistle suggests both arousal and shame in her spinning from suitors to the arms (and fangs) of Dracula (Zhang Wei-Qiang). Her best bit comes as "the False Lucy" (false as in unfaithful), in a graveyard battle with Van Helsing's repressive forces of white male patriarchy. Zhang's count is suitably suave and sexy, but Maddin gives him no big solos to show his virile appealtrue to its title, Diary is all about the women and their pent-up hysteria. (When you can't fuck, you write.) Later, when virginal Mina (CindyMarie Small) shares a pas de deux with her prudish fiancé ¨Johnny Wright), she presses her palm to his astonished crotch. Having read his diary of an encounter with said "vampyr harem," she only means to please. But he slaps her hand away, still the upright Victorian, unwilling to share of himself what Dracula gives so freely. No wonder the count must die. (NR) B.R.M. THE IN-LAWS

Opens Fri., May 23 at Metro and others

Diehards might cling to the 1979 original with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk, but for my money, this remake with Michael Douglas as a CIA renegade who sweeps his son's fianc饧s dad (Albert Brooks) off on jaunty, wedding-complicating spy high jinks is a good laugh at a good price. Douglas is always best when poking fun at his inherited heroic persona (see: Romancing the Stone). He's got the chin and the chops to play 007's self-parodic game, plus the sense of the absurd that no action hero since Connery has fully possessed. Brooks is genius as the acrophobic, everything-phobic podiatrist living out nightmares he would never dare dream up for himself. When Douglas slips him a Rohypnol to facilitate his kidnapping and, passing out, Brooks moans, "Oh, don't rape me!" no actor on earth could make the line kill like Brooks does. Director Andrew Fleming, revered for making a snappy purse from the sow's ear of the Watergate comedy Dick, has better material here from writers Nat Mauldin (Dr. Dolittle) and Ed Solomon (Levity, Men in Black). Though the pace flags here and there, it's mostly sustained by pleasant tension, OK action, obvious but solid jokes, and the dueling dads' marvelous lack of rapport. There's no sense blaming Ryan Reynolds and Lindsay Sloane for being bland as the dads' hapless kidsthey do their duty by mostly staying out of the way. Looking like a cake left out in the rain, once-lovely-and-hysterically-funny Candice Bergen oddly flops in a dim bit as Douglas' bitter, lubricious ex. (Don't get old in Hollywood, or they'll crush your gift like a grape.) David Suchet has a horrid role as Jean-Pierre, a French nuke dealer who courts Brooks like a gay Pepe Le Pew. He sets gay dignity back 40 years. Worse, he isn't funny; yet somehow his victim is. (PG-13) TIM APPELO

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