Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Populist Love Story About Movies (rated 5 stars)

Our past belongs to us, we can change it if we like.

Michel Gondry brings his distinctive sensibilities to Be Kind Rewind and creates a film that is about a community and people who love movies. With distinctive and somewhat naive characters who almost could have walked out of a film by Frank Capra, it has a sentimental feeling while not being overly sweet. While the promotion of the film seems to be setting it up as a Jack Black comedy, it’s a surprisingly sophisticated look at how we relate to each other through the movies that we love and our own history. I loved the film for the strange point of view and infectious optimism and how it reminds us that a film only exists with an audience.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Musical Tour of the Idea of Bob Dylan (rated 4 stars)

It’s a bold idea to take the details of Bob Dylan’s life and music and to tell an episodic story with 6 different actors playing different versions of him. That’s what attracted me to the film as I appreciate Dylan’s music, but I’m not a huge fan. What surprised me was how much fun the film was and the skillful way that Todd Haynes was able to blend together the stories and clever allusions to different films and filmmmakers. So while I’m not well-versed in Dylan trivia, the cinematic trivia kept me interested and fascinated as biography, history and music swirled around. There aren’t a lot of biopics that have allusions to Fellini and quote dialogue from Godard.
Of all the Dylans in the film, Cate Blanchett is transcendent as Jude Quinn. When she shows up in the film it’s exciting and electric. Arriving home after the film a biography of Dylan was on the tv and seeing footage of Dylan from the time that Blanchett builds her character around made me think that she did a better job than Dylan himself.
It was a lot of fun and in many ways it’s a better way to explore the ideas and personas of Bob Dylan than a more traditional documentary.