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November 27, 1989 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-11-27

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*I

Page 10- The Michigan Daily- Monday, November 27, 1989

Death, taxes and freckles

A Taxing Woman's Return 1
dir. Juzo Itami
Bt NABEEL ZUBERI
What Berlin dadaist George Grosz did for political
cartoons in the '30s, Juzo Itami does for movies in the
'80s. His A Taxing Woman was a cops-and-robbers+
romp about tax inspectors trying to nab small-time tax
dodgers, but the sequel takes a broad swipe at the big
boys - the corporations and corrupt politicians. It's re-+
freshing to see political filmmaking with a bite and a
funky sense of humor.
In A Taxing Woman's Return, the feisty heroine
Ryoko Itakura (Nobuko Miyamuto) and her faithful
sidekick Mishima (Tor Masuoka) attempt to uncover
tax evasion by Teppei Onizawa (Rentaro Mikuni), the
chief elder of a fundamentalist religious order. As the in-
trepid duo investigate, they discover that Onizawa is in-
volved in fraudulent dealings on a much larger scale.
His financial clout is used to buy thugs who carry out
illegal evictions, as well as politicians who can cut
through red tape so that real estate development can go
ahead
What Itami does in this movie is explore the nature
of greed in contemporary Japan; where A Taxing Woman
was more concerned with the mechanics of tax inspec-
tion, its sequel focuses on the gargantuan appetites of
the wealthy and powerful. Itami's villains are bloated
monsters; shot in wide angle close-up, they resemble
tbe capitalist caricatures in Grosz's drawings. The direc-

tor really goes for the jugular, sparing no one and avoid-
ing any traces of liberal sentimentality. The greedy Ozi-
nawa is a tour de force of grotesquerie. With his domi-
nating performance, Mikuni runs away with the picture.
His dedication to money is religious, his sexual ap-
petites cannot be contained, he's entranced by a teenage
girl presented to him as payment for a debt. With huge,
drooping bags under his eyes Ozinawa is at once pa-
thetic and monstrously aberrant. While you despise
him, you're also fascinated by the depths of his deca-
dence. The figurehead of his religion, the Holy Matri-
arch, is more concerned with jewelry and fur coats than
she is with the faithful. It's difficult to avoid compar-
isons with our own Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.
Miyamoto, the tax inspector with the Bernice bob,
is as endearing as she was in the first film, one of the
few well-written women characters on the screen today.
There's a subtlety in her performance: as she watches
her boss interrogate a corrupt politician, her face regis-
ters all the expressive nuances of a novice seeing a mas-
ter at work.
The movie is a little too long, with an unnecessary
amount of time spent on the tax raid itself, but this is a
minor quibble. The strength of A Taxing Woman's Re-
turn is its Swiftian edge. Reflecting on the vileness that
is capitalism,'it shows the system to be ridiculous, ab-
surd and very, very ugly.
A TAXING WOMAN'S RETURN plays through Thurs-
day at the Michigan Theater.

A

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) see eye to eye literally but not figuratively: in
this scene from Back to the Future, Part It, Doc's a lot more keen on unusual vacation plans than Marty is.
Back to the old storyboard

Back to the Future,
Part II
dir. Robert Zemeckis
BY TONY SILBER
'Twas the movie sequel season
and all on the screens, a Spielberg
adventure was so popular it seemed.
They're baaack! Yes, it's that time
of year again as house payments are
due at the Steven Spielberg resi-
dence. He's the film phenom, the
wiunderkind wizard, the movie
mogul, and in the past has had no
problem paying the bills. This year,
Back To The Future, Part II will
warm many a cold room on a wintry
night at his cavernous Bel Aire man-
sion.
As is his recent habit, Spielberg
is again in the background for a film
bearing his name. Box office spec-
tacular/Spielberg protege Robert
Zemeckis (Who Framed Roger Rab-
bit) directs again after the original
1985 smash, but not much is differ-
ent. This is basically the same film,
literally.
Marty McFly, Biff, Doc Brown
- they're like family to us,aren't
they? Michael J. Fox, Christopher
Lloyd, and Lea Thompson reprise
their roles in this weird sequel that is
somewhat innovative, but also
cheap. Part II starts where part I

ended (appropriately enough), but the
entire film is based on the first one.
There is very little original material
here.
Doc and McFly strap in to the
"supercharged" DeLorean and cruise
to the year 2015 to get Marty Jr. out
of a mess, but of course, the two
time travelers get into some mildly
amusing messes themselves. Later
they travel back to 1985 to find it
looks like something out of Batman
- a crime world where all the
neighbors on the block have subma-
chine guns and barred windows. Fi-
nally, they must return to 1955 to
prevent Biff from screwing up the
future by betting on sporting events
using a sports almanac from 2015.
Confused? You won't be, but you
also won't be as entertained as you
were the first time.
Back To The Future II is identi-
cal tQ the original. The story is basi-
cally the same and the characters are
absolutely the same. There are some
welcome twists, however, which
make the film somewhat interesting.
The future sequences offer some of
the best moments here. Hovercraft
automobiles, flying skateboards, hy-
drating pizzas, and a Japanese-con-
trolled business world dominate the
Hill Valley of 25 years from now.
Not surprisingly, Marty runs into
his future self and the resulting
chaos ensues, but the resourceful

Lloyd and the comical Fox always;.
manage to get themselves out of a
time-travel stick, sort of like Bill
and Ted.
The evil-1985 middle passage of
the film is one of the more unique
segments of either part I or II. Biff,
the irresistable bully of this series,
controls the Hill Valley economy:
because of his enormous wealth
from betting on sporting events
which he knew the outcomes of. He
becomes a kind of Donald Trump as
he builds a towering Pleasure Palace
offering any avalable vice to this
wonderfully immoral world. e
Back To The Future Parts I and If
overlap each other in the final third&*
of the film as Doc and McFly at-
tempt to prevent Biff, in 1955, from
screwing up the future. Zemeckis
and the crew have refilmed entire
scenes from the first film with
exquisite continuity, but without a
shred of creativity. Although the fact
that two films overlap each other is
somewhat unique, it is also a cheap,.
excuse not to create any new mate-.
rial. The first film has provided Ze-O
meckis and Spielberg with all the.
material they need the second time
around so there is virtually no risk..
here. The formula is the same.
Back to the Future II lends cre-
dence to the clichd "history repeats
itself' as it applies to its mystical,:
magical executive producer Steven
Spielberg. As the film ends with the,
immortal words "To Be Continued"
followed by scenes from the already
See FUTURE, page 11
flCINEMA DIRECI.7VT

Ryoko Itakura (Nobuko Miyamuto) is probably investigating tax deductions. She's a tax collector wvho fights for
justice - a complete turnaround from the traditional do-badder.

A cutter
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