Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Be Kind Rewind (Michel Gondry, 2008)

I've always admired Michel Gondry's childlike sense of imagination and wonder. The Science of Sleep's dream/fantasy sequences were the best part of that wonderful movie; stepping into Stephane's mind was clearly stepping into Gondry's, and it was wonderful what you found there. Be Kind Rewind takes all of the wonderful, sweet aspects of Gondry's filmmaking and distills them into the real world. Mos Def plays Mike, who works at Mr. Fletcher's (Danny Glover) Be Kind Rewind video store -- "1 Video, 1 Night, 1 Dollar, Every Night." Jerry (Jack Black, in surprisingly non-annoying mode) is Mike's best friend who accidentally becomes magnetized after trying to sabotage the power plant he thinks is controlling his mind. His newfound magnetization erases all the tapes in Be Kind Rewind's all-VHS stock, so when customers come in asking for movies, they decide to remake them themselves.

That's a plot that could get old quickly, but Black and especially Mos Def are so darn likeable that it doesn't. They remake Ghostbusters first, then Robocop, The Lion King, Rush Hour 2, and more. It's knee-slappingly hilarious at times, and sweetly touching at others. The Onion's AV Club described it as completely apolitical, but I think that it's subersively, personally political in its message that your own entertainment and happiness should come from yourself, not what you have or can get. Plus, there's that stuff about the New Jersey town the video store is in kicking the black-owned store out to the projects, but it's not made an issue. The AV Club also described Mos Def as Danny Glover's son in everything but name, and once I thought about it, I realized it's definitely true -- both men are incredibly talented in both comedy and drama and are so darn likeable. Be Kind Rewind is a great, sweet movie about the importance of creativity and friendship. It's nothing earth-moving, but there's no better time at the movie theater right now.


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