Culture To Go


E-Therapy With Dr. Katz

Dr. Katz has become something of a cult figure among cable cognoscenti, but now you can get his wit and wisdom online without the squiggle animation that drives some viewers batty. Located at Comedy Central's home page, Dr. Katz's "Auto-Diagnosis Form" comes complete with a disclaimer and poses a slew of psychoanalytical questions such as "How Do You Feel?" or "Have You Ever Had a Problem Bed-Wetting?" A gamut of replies are available, ranging from deliriously happy to psychotic to, well, confused. Dr. Katz's expert diagnosis is often immediately available (if not, you'll receive a reply via e-mail); one diagnosis I received advised that "If you continue to dwell on these problems, they will become bigger and bigger until they grow completely out of proportion and overwhelm you. Get yourself a tissue and calm down... that's it... go to your special quiet place. There now, all that's really wrong is your caps lock key is on." So what if it's not real advice? Dr. Katz is a heck of a lot cheaper, not to mention funnier, than any therapist I've come across. Katz junkies can also download video clips from upcoming episodes of the show, as well as some of Katz's most memorable moments. (Vickie Gilmer)



Evergreen Entertainment

My major complaint with Neil Jordan's Interview With the Vampire was its visual tedium: The man is given millions of dollars to suggest the lysergic opulence of the vampire gaze, and all he can come up with is colored contacts? It's no wonder the thing came off like a Melrose Place Night at the Gay Nineties. Twice as nice at a microscopic percentage of the price, 1995's unjustly overlooked vampire flick Nadja finds its disorienting, time-out-of-time vibe through a mischievous juxtaposition of sharp black-and-white cinematography with smudgy, inebriated Pixelvision. In these zigzags between empty clarity and melodramatic swoon, director Michael Almereyda does what Jordan could not: He creates a language that deepens his fanged metaphor, rather than merely riding on its easy sensuality. For Almereyda, the mystery is less sex than the absence sex tries to fill, the hole where spirituality used to live.

The slight plot reruns Bram Stoker's Dracula in disaffected, young Manhattan; between the multiple Bela Lugosi references, Elina Lowensohn's flamboyant accent as the vampiress Nadja, and the flat cadences of Martin Donovan and Galaxy Craze's paradigmatic New Yorkers, Nadja feels at times like a Hal Hartley/Ed Wood collaboration. In other words, it can be very funny (especially a bug-eyed Peter Fonda as vampire-hunter Dr. Van Helsing). That the movie finally conveys more than that has to do with its startling images and the script, which, like the visuals, runs the alienated into the romantic and comes out somewhere honestly desperate. In the end, Almereyda rewrites Stoker's story, hammering a stake into the mysterious otherworldly only to pin it down and thus bring it back into human hands. "We are all animals," concludes this tale's Cassandra, "but there is a better way to live." (Terri Sutton)

Spirits of the Dead

Water Bearer Films

This 1968 anthology is a curious little window into a weird period of moviemaking. Freely adapting short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, three European directors show their strengths, quirks, and weaknesses while dealing with international casts that are more interesting in the abstract than the actual. Roger Vadim, at the time obsessed with Jane Fonda, directs her and brother Peter in a would-be melodrama of forbidden romance (scions of feuding families, not incest); Jane's wooden acting meshes neatly with a script requiring her to shout frequently a French name: "Hugues!" (or more accurately, "Oooooog!"). Louis Malle then guides cine-hunk Alain Delon through a doppelgänger tale about a cruel officer who has no war to fight, and so plays sadist. This one is supposed to be enlivened by Brigitte Bardot's appearance as a seasoned gambler, but her cat-eye makeup proves too distracting. Finally, however, there's Federico Fellini's somewhat infamous and mostly unseen "Toby Dammit," an excessively loose version of Poe's "Never Bet the Devil Your Head." Coming from the era of 8-1/2, Juliet of the Spirits, and Satyricon, this is a particularly juicy example of Fellini's decorative misanthropy: nuns with sunglasses, dwarves in suits, socialist priests who spout Roland Barthes, fawning TV interview shows, and an outrageous grilling of the Italian Oscars ceremony. As the main character, Terence Stamp is cadaverous and practically invisible playing a drunken actor imported to play Christ in a symbolic western. But he rouses himself for the bang-up ending, which is basically a wild ride to oblivion in a Ferrari. More so than the grotesque-character stuff, this segment presents Fellini as a moving-camera addict. (Phil Anderson)

Cutthroat Island

Live Entertainment

H.L. Mencken overstated his case: There are a few rare occasions when somebody does indeed go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. Cutthroat Island is now officially the champion box office fiasco of all time; and if you think it might be fun to rent on video, good for a few laughs--well, get your dunce cap ready.

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