Friday, December 23, 2005

The Last Week of Advent At the Movies

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (8/10)

From Charlie Kaufmann, a very good example of the budding genre of techno-magical realism. Eternal Sunshine is about as good a meditation on memory that film can provide even though the medium is nowhere near so pliable as the written word. Due to the underwritten character of Kate Winslet, I wasn't able to really care about her relationship with Carrey's character. Just as I was tiring of the romantic depiction of a very unromantic couple, Kauffman threw in a surprise subplot with Kirsten Dunst's character that quite improved the movie. Most stories of this type can't escape the stock Twilight Zone dyad between the protagonist and Very Unnerving Situation, but the Dunst subplot broke through that barrier to good moviemaking.

Cinderella Man (9/10) An excellent period piece which, likely due to its length and silly title, deserved more viewers than it actually got.

Batman Begins (8/10) Very fun but typical movie. The leader of the League of Shadows, or whatever the super-duper ninja pirate barbarian club was called, is a mildly interesting shadow of Walker Percy's anti-hero Lancelot. Though such villans are always supposed to be unsympathetic, I actually liked his tear-it-all-down attitude which is perhaps why the film's comic-book moralism felt especially grating. The remarkable hallucinatory imagery lent some novelty to otherwise pedestrian action sequences. Batman makes for a very bad acid trip, chilling to see.

Being There (7/10)

The Forrest Gump of the post-Nixon era. Peter Sellers plays a sheltered television-addicted gardener named Chance whose bland platitudes are misread by absolutely everyone once he becomes the favorite of a dying political kingmaker's wife. Both Sellers' and the writer's ability to make such a situation generally plausible is impressive. This plausibility is completely undermined by a superficial "magical" ending which has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. Note to all magic-inclined writers: establish magical characteristics at the beginning, not the end, of your story. The movie unfortunately associates Chance with Jesus. If this utterly impassable dullard is echoing the attributes of the Christian God, I'll take Bacchus thank you very much.

The film's PG rating is incredibly wrong-headed. A patent homosexual proposition, implied voyeurism, and Shirley MacLaine engaging in simulated self-abuse(a scene for which the fast forward key is a godsend) makes anything less than an R-rating incomprehensible. The ratings board must have been smoking something.

Boondock Saints (6/10)

A few artistic touches, less obnoxiously cartoonishly violent than Tarantino, but generally unimpressive. A few gaping plot holes are present, as are religious themes that are so seldom used they'd have been better off cutting them out entirely. Give me Bronson in Death Wish any day over these brotherly twits.

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