Posted at 2:35 PM on October 6, 2006
by Euan Kerr
There are a lot of interesting flicks opening this weekend, almost too much choice!
It's been almost 30 years since I saw "Elevator to the Gallows" but I can still feel its moody presence even now. This is Louis Malle's debut as a director. It catapulted Jeanne Moreau to international stardom. It's a smart punchy film noir about a couple who think they've come up with a plan for a perfect murder. Turns out they are wrong. It's half a century old now, but I have a feeling this film seems as fresh as when they rolled the cameras back in Paris. And of course there's the little matter of Miles Davis playing the soundtrack. If you haven't seen it, you shouldn't miss it at the Oak Street
A lot's been written about Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's "Jesus Camp" in recent weeks. It's a disturbing film, which follows a bunch of kids through an evangelical summer camp at Devil's Lake in North Dakota. The Reverend Becky Fischer leads activities, a series of exercises and impromptu prayer sessions which leave the youngsters squealing with delight or quivering in tear-stained heaps on the floor. They are told to prepare for war for their beliefs and to pray for President Bush.
It's all good dramatic stuff which has got many people riled up including some evangelicals who feel the film misrepresents their faith.
Yet in the cold clear lights of the foyer, what's the new message here? That there are fundamentalists who feel America has abandoned the straight and narrow path of godliness? That there are people who disagree with this viewpoint? Hardly new that.
What I hope is that in five or 10 years time, Ewing and Grady will go find the youngsters they profile in Jesus Camp and see where they have ended up. Now that would be really interesting.
Every once in a while a film pops up with a cast which will drag you into a movie theater, no matter the plotline. That's the case with "Keeping Mum" which draws together Miss Jean Brodie, Mr Bean, Johnny from "Dirty Dancing" and the love interest from "The English Patient," (that would be Maggie Smith, Rowan Atkinson, Patrick Swayze, and Kristin Scott Thomas.)
The story in "Keeping Mum" springs no surprises. It's just the usual "whoops-we-hired-a-serial-killer-as-our-housekeeper" kind of comedy.
What saves is are the smart-alec one-liners, and the interaction between a talented cast. Maggie Smith brings an absent-minded determination (really, she does) as the murderous Grace, and Scott Thomas is magnificent as her frustrated employer. Rowan Atkinson never quite comes into his own, in part because his character is too nice.