Posts Tagged ‘sweding’

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BE KIND REWIND (2008)

August 2, 2008

Be Kind Rewind Review


Matt:

Length: 101min

Taglines:
You name it, we shoot it.
Sometimes the best movies are the ones we make up.

Précis: Oddball and friendly film about amateurs remaking blockbusters and discovering the creativity and community spirit around them.   

Review by Matt:

Mike (Mos Def) is an affable clerk left to mind Mr Fletcher’s (Danny Glover) old-school video store for a few weeks. Things go slightly haywire when the store’s main patron, Jerry (Jack Black) – a loopy conspiracy theorist who lives in a nearby trailer – becomes magnetised, resulting in the erasure of the store’s entire catalogue. In a kind of child-like panic, Mike and Jerry decide the best approach to the problem is to recreate the videos by shooting their own versions, starring themselves, a randomly recruited laundry-lady (the ever-cheery Melonie Diaz), and a bunch of home-made special effects.

It sounds pretty weird, and it is. Be Kind Rewind is one of those films that will divide audiences. Some people are going to shake their heads and complain that it is chaotic and half-baked. They’d be right. It seems a bit like writer/director Michael Gondry (who whatever happens from now will be remembered for his stellar effort in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ) hurried his cast onto a set with a script scribbled on the back of an envelope. What stands out initially is the film’s disconcerting ‘low-key’ feel and the air of randomness. It makes you wonder if they’re making it up as they go along. Even the name the boys use for the process of re-shooting the films – “sweding” – seems invented on the spot, and Mos Def’s mumbling suggests he may not have rehearsed too much.

But the other half of the audience is going to think Be Kind Rewind has a unique comic charm and a freeing originality. This is true too. Where else can you see a couple of doofuses recreate Ghost Busters, complete with giant pipe-cleaner protonpack weapons? The same randomness that alienates some viewers is going to delight others. The film’s central theme, amateur creativity, has already inspired a hoard of backyard filmmakers to go out and remake everything from Jurassic Park to Predator.  To cement its point about creative community power, the villains of Be Kind Rewind are representatives of the powerful orthodoxy – movie studios and building developers.

My conclusion is that Be Kind Rewind is a better film than it first appears. It’s got something special going on in its weird whimsy, and before you’ve really figured out what you’re watching, it’s delivered a sneaky little celebration of community and creativity. It’s a bit syrupy, but I ended up liking the way it used a wacky vehicle to deliver a touching message.  Just that the delivery itself is kind of untidy. For a film crackling with comic potential, it doesn’t manage to elicit many laughs. It also should have traded some of the more banal moments to show us more of the creative and comic ‘sweded’ remakes, which are the best parts of the film. I ended up smiling because I was touched, but I didn’t smile outright at the film’s humour. So it’s missing a bit of polish and sparkle, but Be Kind Rewind is still is a friendly and original little film.

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