Miscellaneous Reviews Festivals Lists Etc

Site Meter


The Films of Michel Gondry

Human Nature

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Dave Chappelle's Block Party

The Science of Sleep

Be Kind Rewind (February 19/08)

While there's little doubt that Michel Gondry's inherently low-rent sensibilities have been growing more and more problematic with each successive effort, Be Kind Rewind takes his increasingly unpleasant do-it-yourself modus operandi to an entirely new level of ugliness. The subsequent degree to which Gondry squanders a decent premise and a talented cast is staggering, as the movie inevitably becomes as amateurish and eye-rollingly silly as the central characters' no-budget efforts. Jack Black stars as Jerry, a quirky oddball who inadvertently magnetizes his brain during a sabotage operation and accidentally destroys every single tape in his friend's (Mos Def's Mike) video store. Along with the help of a few buddies (including Melonie Diaz's Alma and Mia Farrow's Miss Falewicz), Jerry and Mike set out to remake each of the shop's movies using an outdated camcorder and a whole mess of chintzy props. Admittedly, Gondry does a nice job of establishing the small yet friendly neighborhood inhabited by the various characters - infusing the film's early scenes with an intimate, Spike Lee-esque sort of vibe that is eventually (and woefully) replaced by an emphasis on gimmickry. Once Jerry and Mike start producing their shoddy versions of films like Ghostbusters, Robocop, and Rush Hour 2, Be Kind Rewind essentially morphs into a hopelessly implausible wish-fulfillment fantasy - as Gondry envisions a utopian urban landscape in which this close-knit community bands together and battles the evil corporation that wants to tear down Mike's video store. It's patently ridiculous stuff and - overlooking the completely inane concept of people willingly paying money to watch glorified home movies - the lack of subtlety with which Gondry has imbued the latter half of the proceedings ensures that the film is ultimately an extraordinarily tough slog indeed.

out of

The Thorn in the Heart

The Green Hornet (April 30/11)

Based on the long-running radio series, The Green Hornet follows millionaire playboy Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) as he's forced to grow up after his father (Tom Wilkinson's James) apparently dies of a bee sting - with the film subsequently following Britt's efforts at becoming the title crimefighter alongside his loyal employee Kato (Jay Chou). There's little doubt that The Green Hornet gets off to a better-than-expected start, as director Michel Gondry opens the film with a thoroughly entertaining sequence revolving around central villain Benjamin Chudnofsky's (Christoph Waltz) violent encounter with a cocky up-and-coming gangster (James Franco, appearing unbilled). It's only as the movie segues into its narrative proper that one's patience is slowly-but-surely tested, as Gondry has infused the proceedings with an incongruously deliberate pace that's exacerbated by the meandering nature of Rogen and Even Goldberg's screenplay. (The writers place an ongoing emphasis on scenes and subplots of an entirely needless nature, with virtually everything involving Cameron Diaz's superfluous love interest emblematic of the script's half-baked feel.) The Green Hornet's positive attributes - eg Gondry's surprisingly strong visual choices, Rogen's appealing, personable turn as the hero, etc, etc - are, as a result, drained of their impact by the progressively sluggish atmosphere, with the inclusion of an eye-rollingly pointless third-act fake break-up between Britt and Kato cementing the movie's place as an uneven, disastrously overlong piece of work. (This is to say nothing of Waltz's disappointingly bland turn as the film's far-from-threatening villain.)

out of

About the DVD: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents The Green Hornet with an anamorphically-enhanced transfer and a smattering of bonus features (including a commentary track, a gag reel, deleted scenes, and more).
© David Nusair