Posted at 2:18 PM on June 26, 2006
by Euan Kerr
The rest of my nuclear family was out of town so I got to indulge in a minor movie binge over the weekend. I got through the lawn, laundry, car care chores, and still managed to take in four movies in the theatre and two on DVD.
Perhaps the most thrilling was Spike Lee's "Inside Man" which came out in March but is still in the second run theaters. It's a taut bank-heist thriller which pitches devious thief Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) against detective against hostage negotiator Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington.) Throw in Christopher Plummer as the bank owner with a lot to lose, and Jodie Foster as the behind-the-scenes fixer and it's a potent mix.
Lee directs with a deft touch, keeping the action and the puzzlers coming, even as he puts a magnifying glass on his defining issues of race and class. It's well worth the two bucks admission!
Then came what at first seemed to be the blunder of the weekend, but on reflection may have been mildly inspired.
"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" got on the "to-see" list because the times worked, and sometimes it's good to check out what the young people are going to see. In a nutshell this movie is crass, stupid, xenophobic, and entirely predictable.
It's the story of a high-school gearhead called Lucas (Sean Boswell) who gets in trouble after an impromptu drag-race through a construction site. As any parent would do, his mother decides to send him to Japan to stay with his father who is stationed in Tokyo with the US Navy. There he naturally falls in with a group of kids who race high end cars through indoor parking lots. What's more a guy who he has never met before gives him the keys to a top of the line car to race, which Sean promptly wrecks because he doesn't know how to "drift" (what we old guys used to call a handbrake turn.) There's a bad guy, a yakuza guy, a big car race where everything is on the line, (and guess who wins?)
"FFTD" has holes in the plot you could slide a car through (sideways) through, but what makes it really annoying is it is so mindless and wasteful. Wrecked cars, burned up tires, smashed buildings, all with little or no consequences. It was ultimately just depressing, a depression that only got worse driving home and getting caught in the traffic jam caused by the hot rod convention at the state fairgrounds.
Then came Saturday and a trip to see "An Inconvenient Truth." Who knew?
Who knew Al Gore and a "slideshow" as he calls it could make such compelling cinema? Gore reckons he's done the global warming speech about 1,000 times over the years, so he has his timing down. He also has a hefty arsenal of facts and figures to make you think, along with pictures of melting glaciers to scare the snot out of you. Like "Fahrenheit 9/11" there is nothing particularly new in this film, but there is immense power in the way the information is gathered together and presented in a concise understandable way.
It was a perfect antidote to "FFTD."
(Interestingly Yahoo reports "Inconvenient" has taken in just under half a million bucks since it's release in May, while "FFTD" has taken in just under $24-million since its release June 16th.)
The other movies? "Scary Movie 4" which is silly fun, and a couple of advance screeners for "Lady Vengeance" and "Wassup Rockers." More on them later.