Archive for April, 2007

After the Wedding
There's More At Work Than What You Think

Our father, who art in Denmark, overwhelming is thy wealth. Thy kingdom comes, thy will is done, on earth… But not so much in heaven. Jørgen is a father; he is a wealthy, smart manipulator who apparently has an eagle eye for detail and an uncommon understanding of human nature. He seems to know everything about everyone, and has them and the world under his control. Except for one thing… mortality. But no one in After the Wedding can possibly imagine what is foremost on Jørgen’s mind. They are too caught up in their own guilt, personal struggles, pain, and lives in general to see his plan for what it is: their best chance at new life and peace.

The TV Set
TV-type Comedy About TV Pilots

The TV Set is perhaps the slightest, most insubstantial whiff of entertainment I’ve seen in years. It is so high-concept as to be made of ozone. The result is something like a TV version of The Player—minus Altman’s directorial presence, and with a central conflict no more sophisticated than: Will the pilot be successful? Altman was wise to bury a murder at the core of his movie; I desperately wanted to find—or manufacture—one here. Still, if you’re in the mood for some halfway decent cotton candy, The TV Set will likely do the trick. Kasdan has probably accomplished just what he set out to do.

The Hoax
Whose Lie Is It, Anyway?

Implausibility is the central theme of The Hoax, and the implausibility at the core of the film’s story is true enough: the life and personality of Howard Hughes. That a man so eccentric, phobic, demanding, and secretive could become so successful boggles the imagination. But what, exactly, are we supposed to make of a movie about an unreliable character, based on a book by that same unreliable character, about that unreliable character’s improbable hoax? I don’t know. I just don’t know. But I know I’m not buying into what the movie tells me very deeply, and perhaps that’s the point.

A Talk with Pegg, Frost, & Wright
Hot Fuzz Braintrust Speaks

When it comes to the films from which the writing team drew inspiration—films like Point Break and Bad Boys II, which factor into the narrative of Hot Fuzz—director Edgar Wright applauds them as “the ultimate in dumb popcorn fun; they emphasize spectacle and the expense of everything else, and in their own way they’re very entertaining.” They’re what co-writer Simon Pegg calls “visual sedatives,” not deserving of mere ridicule. One of the messages of Hot Fuzz, says Pegg, is: “Don’t be ashamed to appreciate a fireworks display. It doesn’t all have to be high art. You can also enjoy low culture. You don’t walk away from a fireworks display and say, ‘That was rubbish. There was no subtext.’”

Looking Back Through the Rear Window

I must admit that when I first saw the trailer for Disturbia, I was immediately turned off by the familiarity of the plot. I’ve seen that a million times already, I thought. For all intents and purposes, Disturbia is a modern, B-movie remake of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, although it claims to be based on a story by screenwriter Christopher Landon. I’m sure the plot even sounded familiar to Landon and Caruso when they began making the film, but I don’t think they were necessarily interested in being original—they just wanted to create a fun, entertaining thriller, and for the most part, they succeeded.

Surviving Has Its Consequences

While not as emotionally gripping as I had personally hoped, Grbavica still moved me. War is never pretty, and a ceasefire is never the end—it’s just the beginning of a part of every war called The Aftermath. The Aftermath is the wake of walking wounded, haunting memories, terrible secrets, and broken families. It is the plight of the ones left to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives and their countries all at once, when the life has been ripped out of them. Grbavica focuses specifically on the women and children who survived the bullets, but haven’t necessarily made it out fully alive. It is a dark picture that refuses to be depressing while still effectively showing the world that the fight isn’t over yet.

The New SUVs: Stupid Unbelievable Vikings

Nispel’s background in graphic novels comes through loud and clear in Pathfinder—and for some, that will be good news. As with graphic novels, the set-pieces in this film have a kind of sensationalism and visual flair that work within the frame, and even within the scope of a series of frames—even scenes, if one cares to be generous. And that seems to be the primary demand of the artform that is the graphic novel. Traditionally, though, films are expected to work as well at the macro level as at the micro level—and this is where Nispel’s Viking vehicle gets shipwrecked.

Perfect Stranger
Yes, Virginia, Art Can Make You Feel Dirty

Perfect Stranger features a storyline with sexually abused children, perverts with online aliases, women who play along with such men for their own purposes, and To Catch A Predator-style busts. It’s got same-sex-for-influence intern-politico scandals. It’s got brutal sex crimes, rough sex, and “gee-Mr.-Springer -I-just-don’t-know” DNA tests. How topical. How current. How hip. And the film has nothing intelligent to say about any of this. It just plays it all for entertainment value, hoping that the audience gets some kind of prurient thrill from sitting in on Internet dirtytalk and runaway sexual obsession.

How pathetic.

Getting the Word Out on Amazing Grace

We’ve received more email about Amazing Grace than just about any other film we’ve covered in the last eight months. By and large, reaction to the film has been very positive—but some folks don’t quite understand what Walden Media is doing in marketing this film through its Bristol Bay label.
One reader, Neil Mammen, […]

Three Cheers for Ultimate Gift

Sheila Dean wrote:
We absolutely loved The Ultimate Gift. It never came to our local theatres, so we drove approximately one-half hour to get to it… It left way too quickly! We wanted to share it with many of our Christian friends. What can we do? (Besides wait for the DVD. I sure hope they make […]

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