addicted to love

Addicted to Love (1997)

Maggie and Sam have two things in common. They’ve both recently been dumped, and their exes are now dating each other. Neither find themselves able to move on, and while they want different things – she wants revenge while he simply wants his old life back – the broken-hearted compatriots join forces to break up the new couple.

Robert Palmer’s song from a decade earlier may have lasted a lot longer on the charts (and in the public consciousness) than Griffin Dunne’s directorial debut, but don’t let that stop you from giving this near anti-romantic comedy a spin. It’s fast-moving and funny while leaving plenty of room for actions and observations both cruel and honest. Break-ups hurt, and the film captures that pain in Maggie’s rage and Sam’s inability to function while still delivering some bitingly funny dialogue and physical hijinx.

The film is a fair bit darker in tone and consequence than most films labeled “rom-coms,” but both Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick acquit themselves well with performances that channel their inherent comic charms into characters prone to making poor choices. There’s a madcap sensibility to much of it, but rather than have it fuel something positive and affirming, it’s aimed towards destruction. Happily for viewers, one of the targets is the always fantastic Tcheky Karyo, and it’s great fun seeing him play a character interested more in love than in murder.

Addicted to Love is available to buy on DVD and to watch on Amazon Video.

knockin on heavens door

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (1997)

Two strangers meet after learning that they each have incurable illnesses. When Martin discovers that Rudi has never seen the ocean, the pair decide on the spot to go visit the sea before it’s too late, but getting there isn’t going to be easy. Some unwise decisions see them targeted by the mob and the police, but both organizations may have to take a backseat to death itself.

This German film is one of many to use Bob Dylan’s classic song, but it appears to be the only one to share the name. The theme of the track is evident here as we know from the beginning that both men are near death, but it finds life in their journey together. The pair run the gamut of emotions, as does the film itself, but it takes a break for those extremes for moments and scenes focused on the action they find themselves caught up in including cars, gun fights, and ladies of the evening.

Til Schweiger, currently burning up the screen in Atomic Blonde as a watchmaker, co-wrote the film and stars alongside Jan Josef Liefers. Both men do tremendous work balancing their characters’ pathos and senses of humor. There’s something of a Dream Team vibe to their situation – neither one is “crazy,” but their actions seem nonsensical to those outside of their shoes leading to moments both sad and funny. Only this film has the benefit of a brief appearance from Rutger Hauer, though.

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is not currently available.

golden slumber

Golden Slumber (2010)

A young man meets up with an old school friend and agrees to join him on a fishing trip, but he discovers too late that the invite was no act of kindness. He awakens to find he’s been framed for an assassination and is now the most wanted man in Japan. On the run from the both the law and the people who set him up, he sets out to clear his name and catch the real culprits with the help of some real friends.

The lyrics to The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” are minimal, even more so than the lines in the original Elizabethan poem it’s taken from, but the core theme is enough to fuel this fantastically playful conspiracy thriller. Aoyagi’s attempt to reconnect with his past backfires spectacularly and lands him in immense danger, but curiously the only way out of it all is to double down on his look backwards. The key though, as is often the case, is in choosing wisely when it comes to who you let into your life. Sometimes those you least suspect – people who maybe recite song lyrics way too frequently for example – are the friends you need most.

In a more just world, director Yoshihiro Nakamura would be a more appreciated filmmaker here in the United States and his films would be more readily available, but as it stands, only the brilliant Fish Story and spooky The Booth are available domestically on DVD. If you’re all-region capable, I highly suggest you seek out more of his films including A Boy and His Samurai, The Inerasable, and See You Tomorrow Everyone.

Golden Slumber is not currently available.

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