340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Returning from the dead.

I hope you had a chance to read John MacFarlane's article on the undead horde's invasion of Mount Royal. Originally printed in the Gazette, I'd reprinted it here but now it is gone. If you'd like a copy, you may e-mail me.

* * *

My week in purgatory is due to end in... six hours, thirty-eight minutes.

* * *

C. had never seen Get Shorty, so when Be Cool was released a few weeks ago, I rented both together so we could watch them back-to-back. I'm glad we did, because they do work better as a pair than as individual movies and C. seemed to really like the first. The sequel, well...

In a movie as self-conscious as Be Cool, it's hard to say how much of its failure is intentional or not. After all, wouldn't it break the illusion to have a sequel surpass (or even equal) the original?

Elmore Leonard is what he is and personally, I'm partial to him. When he's on, he writes whip-smart, breezy stories about clever people doing dirty things and charming the hell out of you all the while. Unfortunately, Be Cool feels laboured and a little clumsy. Part of the original's charm was the unexpected twists and turns: Chilli's wry intelligence, wit, grace and creativity were refreshing, given his archetype. This time around he seemed a little smug, like the character figured out he was being written as 'clever'.

Likewise, in Get Shorty, the Möbius-like (hey, twice in two reviews--a record!) quality of the story was just predictable enough to be logical, but enough of a surprise to leave me grinning. Here, the self-referencing was clumsier and felt forced: using a story about an up-and-coming young singer to showcase the talents of real-life up-and-comer Christina Milian didn't feel postmodern--it felt like product placement. You could argue that I'm splitting hairs with that distinction, and so be it--it still felt awkward. Also, the choice of director was odd: F. Gary Gray, who'd previously helmed The Italian Job, is a poor fit for the smooth, suave tone that Leonard's words evoke.

The saving grace of this movie is the acting: André Benjamin (AKA André 3000), Cedric the Entertainer, The Rock and Vince Vaughn all stand out in their roles. The Rock isn't a brilliant thespian by any stretch of the imagination, but his willingness to undermine his own macho image was nice and it made for some funny scenes; Cedric the Entertainer never fails to, well... entertain. The man's got comic timing out the wazoo, what can I say? Vince Vaughn's wigger pastiche was initially brilliant, then merely smile-inducing and, by the final scenes, cringe-worthy. The real surprise was André Benjamin--who knew this guy could act? Funny, engaging and totally watchable, he stole pretty much every scene he was in.

Nutshell review: not a bad movie, probably worth the rental (especially if you liked Get Shorty) but disappointing in the ways that most sequels are.


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