Josh Kornbluth

Josh Kornbluth

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Six O'Clock News Review


Good
Six O'Clock News has often been called Ross McElwee's least "personal" film: That is, it's the film that has Ross McElwee and his friends and family in it the least.That's true, but rest assured, the first from of Six is a lingering photo of McElwee's son. Six O'Clock News follows McElwee's formula of voice-over and interviews (with other people or with himself, when no one else is around) fairly faithfully.That said, there are fewer of McElwee's usual pals in the film, though Charleen Swansea has a good 15 minutes of screen time. At least it makes sense: In Six, McElwee becomes fascinated with the news, and in particular, natural disasters. When Charleen's house is damaged by Hurricane Hugo, Swansea earns her talking time.More interesting are moments he spends with other victims: a man who was trapped under a fallen parking garage after the L.A. earthquake, a widower who made it through a long legal battle to put away the man who murdered his wife. McElwee asks (out loud) the deep questions about how things like this can happen, and whether it's inevitable that we end up on the six o'clock news like these poor saps do.Of course, since this isn't really a movie about McElwee -- rather, it's about God, the universe, life, and everything else -- he can't really answer any of the questions he poses. That makes the film a bit less fulfilling and ends things on a more sour note than in McElwee's more uplifting movies about the human condition, but it's still a pretty good film.The DVD is part of the exhaustive Ross McElwee Collection.

Six O'Clock News Review


Good
Six O'Clock News has often been called Ross McElwee's least "personal" film: That is, it's the film that has Ross McElwee and his friends and family in it the least.

That's true, but rest assured, the first from of Six is a lingering photo of McElwee's son. Six O'Clock News follows McElwee's formula of voice-over and interviews (with other people or with himself, when no one else is around) fairly faithfully.

Continue reading: Six O'Clock News Review

Red Diaper Baby Review


Good
Spalding Gray is no longer with us, which means that, for all intents and purposes, the American monologue is now dead.

While no one will fill Gray's shoes -- and I'm especially talking to you poetry slam people out there -- a small cadre of up-and-comers are taking aim at his craft with their own quirky one-man rants.

Continue reading: Red Diaper Baby Review

Teknolust Review


Terrible
A sci-fi film for those who enjoy the concept and theory of the genre, if not actually its practice, Teknolust would probably be better enjoyed if it had been made into a multimedia display for a modern art museum. But, alas, it was not, and so viewers have to endure new media artist Lynn Hershman Leeson's uncomfortable attempts at taking her cracking-stiff theories and translating them into dramatic narrative form.

Dipping back into the world of the micro-indie film - which she seemed to have mostly abandoned after the passing of her cinematic mentor, Derek Jarman - Tilda Swinton plays four roles here, but Dr. Strangelove it ain't. Her primary role is as Rosetta Stone (get it?), a bio-geneticist who, in a strangely-reasoned attempt to help the world by creating robots equipped with artificial intelligence, has discovered how to download her own DNA into a computer and thus create three SRAs (Self Replicating Automatons) in her image. The SRAs are named Ruby, Marine and Olive and dresses them each according to color (red, blue, and green). This doesn't serve much purpose besides being pretty look at, and also giving us an easy way of telling the Swintons apart (aside from the fashion-victim wigs Ruby and Olive wear). Rosetta herself is easy enough to ID: as the nerdy scientist, they put her in the most frightful and unattractive of the wigs and make her goggle out at the world from behind a pair of giant glasses.

Continue reading: Teknolust Review

Haiku Tunnel Review


Good
Josh Kornbluth is a funny guy. He has a nervous, jittery way about him, delivering his views on the world with gusto, while giving off a unique combination of being both obsessed and lazy. He looks odd, a pudgy schlump with glasses, a balding head, long messy hair on the sides and back, and an array of Hawaiian shirts. Even his name is kind of funny.

But he has the guts to play a version of himself in this smart comedy, one in which Kornbluth is in every single scene, riding the surprisingly lively script into the world of office temp stardom.

Continue reading: Haiku Tunnel Review

Teknolust Review


Unbearable

A silly cybersexual fantasy hinged on the fetishistic sci-fi gimmick of replicant women who need sperm to survive, "Teknolust" isn't much better than what it sounds like -- a porn spoof. The fact that writer-director Lynn Hershman Leeson genuinely considers this concept a high-minded metaphor makes the eccentric comedy laughable in ways that were certainly never intended.

A low-budget, one-dimensional concoction with art-house pretensions, the film employs such "futuristic" trappings as two-year-old candy-colored iBooks and a brushed-steel microwave that doubles as a computer terminal. But while its shoestring style may have come of necessity, the movie's absurdly ineffectual intellectualism and that-take-will-have-to-do performances are what really makes it hard to sit through.

Odd-bird indie icon Tilda Swinton ("The Deep End," "Orlando") stars a nerdy-virgin microbiologist with the ridiculous name of Dr. Rosetta Stone. Swinton also plays Stone's home-made clones, the clumsily sultry Ruby (who always wears red), petulant, child-like Marine (blue) and shy, cerebral Olive (green) -- the first of whom has been trained, through watching old movies, to go out and seduce men with bad pick-up lines so she can bring life-giving sperm home to her sisters. (That the injections are given intravenously is all that keeps "Teknolust" from being even more ill conceived than it already is.)

Continue reading: Teknolust Review

Haiku Tunnel Review


Weak

The nightmare of being employed as an office temp is given whimsical homage by San Francisco stand-up comic Josh Kornbluth in his semi-autobiographical first person comedy "Haiku Tunnel."

Proudly wearing its shoestring budget on its sleeve, the picture is introduced and frequently interrupted by Kornbluth -- a sweetly roly-poly, balding but wild-haired nebbish who stands in front of a chalkboard to illustrate crazy points from the ensuing story. The narrative proper follows Kornbluth, playing himself, through the oddball events of a temp job he once held at a SF law firm -- a job he screwed up pretty badly.

Adapted from his recent one-man show of the same name, "Haiku Tunnel" has the ring of humorous authenticity as our hero nervously plods his way through a sleep-inducing employee orientation, endures computer meltdowns and the scorn of the secretary pool, puts up with a patronizing boss and -- of course -- boosts office supplies, pausing to note for the viewer that Uniball Micropens are his favorite.

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Bartleby Review


Terrible

Perhaps I'm too much of a literalist to stomach a thickly ironic, extremely low-budget adaptation of Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" set in an eerily sterile modern office. Or perhaps writer-director Jonathan Parker's update of the conceptual tale about a boss driven crazy by an uncooperative employee really is as under-rehearsed and lifeless as it seems to me.

At the center of "Bartleby" is the title character, a meek, withdrawn oddball played by Crispin Glover (the Thin Man in "Charlie's Angels" and George McFly in "Back to the Future") with his quiet, uneasy, string-bean quirkiness turned up full blast. He comes to work as a paper-pusher in a government records office for a fidgety boss (David Paymer) whose subservient existence of sedated equilibrium is thrown for a loop when Bartleby simply stops working one day, answering every order and request with "I would prefer not to."

Before long he's living in the office and spending the better part of each day staring at an air conditioning duct while Paymer goes nuts trying to reason with him.

Continue reading: Bartleby Review

Josh Kornbluth

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