March 12, 2008


Be Kind ...

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A couple days ago I saw Be Kind Rewind (IMDb), the latest film by director Michel Gondry who's previous films include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) (IMDb), and The Science of Sleep (2006) (IMDb). I didn't expect this film to be like those two (and it wasn't), but I was hoping for Gondry's impressive camera tricks to play a crucial role (which it did).

Eternal Sunshine, and The Science of Sleep are both intense love stories that use some very original camera wizardry to show or deal with the uncomfortable reality of tragic and/or unrequited love. Gondry uses old-school camera tricks instead of expensive computer generated effects. It really helps to blur the scenes together in Eternal Sunshine and in Sleep it gives a cartoon like look to childish/innocent notions of love.

Unlike Eternal Sunshine and The Science of Sleep, Be Kind Rewind is not a love story. Its a story of two friends, played by Jack Black and Mos Def, who are trying to save a local video store from going out of business. Because of unusual circumstances the video store that only rents VHS tapes has had all its films erased. This happens while the owner, played by Danny Glover, is out of town and has put Mos Def's character in charge of the store. The solution that occurs to Jack Black's character is to recreate the films by filming over the erased copies with themselves (and various assorted friends and loyal customers) playing all the parts which they call “Sweeded” versions of the originals.

If you really enjoy movies, the premise for this film probably sounds intriguing, as it did for me. My biggest disappointment is that too little of this film was dedicated to the “Sweeded” films. But the “sweeded” segments they do show have some sequences that are hilarious; unfortunately a lot of the best moments are included in the trailer.

Storywise Be Kind Rewind is more subtle than earlier Gondry films. There is no real love interest, other than a dysfunctional love of movies and passion for fighting the corporate nature of the movie business. This film is possibly a metaphor for holding onto your dreams but ultimately letting go -- and its also a parody of the corporate nature of the film industry the role of rental corporations, the lowest rung of the film industry (specifically how films are chosen to be made based on their marketability not necessarily their quality) and so it shows how that mechanism is sucking dry creativity and independent thinking in movies.

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