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10/5/2005

FILM FLAM
SW and I caught a preview screening of A History of Violence last week. David Cronenberg can direct sex and/or violence scenes well, but everything else in this film D R A G S. I understand the concept of letting a scene go a bit long to give it more weight, even when there's no dialogue and nothing happening on screen, but when EVERY scene goes a bit too long it makes it feel like someone needs a better editor. Viggo Mortensen plays Tom, a passive diner owner who turns hero when the joint gets held up, killing the would-be murderers. With the media coverage comes the attention of the mafia, who think he is Joey Cusac, former heavy. The plot is a bit predictable but the action is handled well and there are some surprisingly humorous moments somehow woven into the violence and sex.
Maria Bello plays Tom/Joey's wife, Edie, and does a good job with the role, but I felt like Viggo displayed almost no emotion whatsoever. Ed Harris does a fine job as a thug. There are some great moments in the film, but overall I found it slow and tedious. I also don't agree with SW's interpretation of the message of the film. She argues it shows what can happen when you let violence into your life. However, in the end the only solution to the problems is yet more violence and the main character doesn't suffer any consequences as a result of any of it, aside from a few injuries sustained in combat. The film could have been very moving if he'd lost a family member and had to deal with the guilt. (Then Viggo would've actually had to show some emotion on screen as well.)
Rent it if you must, then fast forward through the last 5 seconds of the slow scenes.

Despite SG abandoning the weekly Drive Invasion vote after Labor Day, degenerate CD and myself encouraged others last week, the last official weekly Invasion, to join us this week and perhaps keep up the Tuesday night outing for another few weeks. A few folks said they would but I didn't expect anyone to actually show up.
My expectations were dead on.
However, degenerate CD and myself relaxed under the stars in the cool, but not yet cold, fall evening at Starlight Drive In with a few beers for what may be the most anachronistic flick of the year - Roll Bounce, a movie about roller disco. I couldn't resist the allure of a retro movie at what is essentially a retro movie-going experience, the drive in, so I opened up the suicide doors on my '69 Thunderbird and tapped my feet along to the soundtrack, kicking off with some funk classics from the mid-70's.
Roll Bounce tells the story Xavier, AKA "X", a young teenager in a black middle class neighborhood, and his friends who have to go uptown to skate when their local rink closes. Unfortunately, the funky ghetto roller rink is closed a few minutes into the film and the uptown skating rink plays more disco and schlocky 70's soft rock. The other unfortunate aspect of the film is a dreary family drama about X and his father coming to terms with the death of X's mother. There's a good 20 minutes in the middle of the film where I was envious of degenerate CD needing to visit the restroom. He should've stopped for popcorn too. The skating scenes in the opening of the film and in the closing skate-off are fun and should've been the entire focus of the film, a la Breakin'. Instead, they reach for a Saturday Night Fever format and the drama falls on it's ass.
But there are a few non-skate-related moments that add to the fun factor. There's a water balloon attack that spoofs the drive-by shooting scenes from any of the dozens of New Jack City flicks, comlete with uneccesary slo-mo and the lead character yelling "Nooooooooooooooo..." for seemingly a full minute. There are many scenes that approach slapstick satire and if they had been brave enough to go all in for such a flick we would've had a much better film.
Somehow the film ended up as PG-13 despite the lack of cursing or nudity or violence. You can feel the self-censorship in the dialogue with phrases that sound like they were edited for TV. Somehow I doubt there's a person alive who's ever uttered the term "mother sucker" with a straight face, much less in anger.
Overall, I'd say it's 65% good, 35% dull. Good for the drive in, but probably not for much else.


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