Sunday, 30 November 2008

Short Movie Review! - Be Kind Rewind + Theater Kino

Hmmm, well I didn't post last night because... I just plain forgot. Not sure what was going on there, but I'm reasonably sure it won't happen again. This Sunday then, via Monday.

On Sunday I went to Theater Kino in Sapporo, and I don't know why I haven't been there before because it's a real arthouse cinema. Tiny, covered in a bewildering array of posters, serving cake as a snack and fitted into a building completely unsuited to housing a cinema. In this case it looks and smells like a functional 1980s municipal office block, but up on the 2nd floor, looking initially like just another office, is Theater Kino.

I've already fallen in love with Theater Kino because they had a ridiculous offer to promote their movie. We went to see the Michel Gondry movie Be Kind Rewind, in which VHS tapes play a major part - and we could get a third off the ticket price by bringing along our own VHS of a movie with a happy ending and writing about why we liked it. That's the kind of hare-brained scheme I can really get behind. Yuki only had a few VHS tapes though, so I went with The Shawshank Redemption and she had that Ed Norton / Ben Stiller religious romcom. Good enough.

That's the pretty awesome American movie poster for Be Kind Rewind up there. Sadly the Japanese movie poster is a lacklustre photoshop montage:

I mean, I understand why they want the characters in some of the costumes from the movie but... Jack Black doesn't even have a moustache in this flick. Is there something added to the poster by adding a - frankly half-hearted - moustache to Jack Black as scrap-heap Robocop? He's already scrap-heap Robocop!

Anyway, the movie was great. I hadn't really read any reviews, but in what little I did read people were generally unimpressed so my expectations weren't high (although my hopes were). I mean I recently rewatched Eternal Sunshine and holy crap that's a nigh on perfect movie. The Science of Sleep is a wonderful movie too, so I had my fingers crossed.

Although the set up and the cast prime you for a pretty straight American comedy movie I think this is fairly clear proof that Michel Gondry can't make a straight comedy movie. When he does try the broad humour and emphatic punchlines necessary for a multiplex crowd-pleaser he just doesn't pull it off. Those are the weakest bits of the movie, and luckily as the movie progresses there are less and less of them. In the first 20 minutes Jack Black grates a little, but after a while he beds into the movie really well and I just pure enjoyed the movie for most of its running time.

Mos Def was good too. I mention specifically this because when I read one blogger mention bad comic timing I immediately thought of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was another fantastically inventive comedy movie starring Mos Def that was undone by poor timing both from the directors and the cast. In Hitchhiker's... Mos Def was especially guilty of missing beats and flubbing the punchlines, but here he plays it much straighter and gives a better comedy performance as a result.

It ain't a masterpiece, and it's worse than the other two Gondry movies that I mentioned, and it's a little hokey and cheesy at times, but it's really, really good.

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