28 Days Later
Capturing The Friedmans
By Dennis Morton
Ive seen four films in the past week. Two were advanced
screenings and the other two are playing now in area theatres.
Ill start with the latter.
The latest installment of Charlies Angels is a ubiquitous
presence in American theatres right now. Its the top box
office draw in the country. Still, on my own, I wouldnt
have chosen to see it. But it was my friends turn to choose.
I entered the darkened temple with extremely low expectations.
To my great surprise, I found myself enjoying the movie. Especially
Drew Barrymore. She manages to seem simultaneously vulnerable
and invincible. For those of us who remember the Angels from
TV, there is the reassuringly avuncular voice of John Forsythe
as the disembodied Charlie. And, to spice up the stew of athletic
pulchritude, theres even a fallen angel, played by Demi
Moore. This episode of Charlies Angels doesnt take
itself too seriously, which is good, because its a funny
film. It opens with Cameron Diaz riding a mechanical yak in
a bar populated with hordes of Mongol bad guys. Thats
about all you need to know. Its not art, but it is entertainment.
For a few hours of harmless diversion, check this one out.
While in London last Fall, my friend and I watched 28 Days Later
in a small movie house off Picadilly Square. Its just
now reached America, and the critics seem entranced by it. I
returned for another look but left the theatre with pretty much
the same impression I had the first time. 28 Days Later is the
work of a dour imagination, bereft of humor. Its been
typed as a genre film, specifically, the latest incarnation
of the zombie flic. To be sure, there are a few scary moments,
but not many. And Director Danny Boyles take on humanity
leaves me cold.
The film opens with a team of animal liberationists breaking
into a London laboratory. They free an ape and all hell breaks
loose, in the form of a virus. As the movie lugubriously marches
its eye-gouging way to a conclusion, were not quite sure
who the real bad guys are the infected zombies or the
few surviving uninfecteds. The movie is so somber and humorless
that I hardly cared. Dont waste your money on this one.
Now for the good news: opening this weekend are a pair of wonderful
movies Respiro, an Italian film, and Capturing The Friedmans,
a feature length documentary.
Respiro is about community. However stultifying the small town
life can be, it is not without drama. Valeria Golino plays the
part of an eccentric mother of three children. Shes a
free spirit tethered by the traditions of her isolated, male
dominated, fishing village. When her impulses conflict with
the communitys expectations, something has to give. Leavened
with comic moments, Respiro, a tragedy-in-waiting, is a breath
of sea freshened air. Good writing, good direction and plenty
of fine acting makes Respiro a sure bet. Dont miss it.
Capturing The Friedmans is about a real life tragedy. Its
one of the oddest films Ive ever seen. Its an invisibly
intrusive look at the Friedman family, of Great Neck, Long Island.
It asks questions that cant be answered, which is the
point of the movie. What is truth? Who really did what, and
to whom, and why? We may not be much closer to the answers after
watching this film, but quite possibly well have a greater
appreciation for the complexity of life in contemporary America.
The Friedmans may not be embarrassed for themselves, but after
watching two hours of the intimate details of their lives, we
the viewers will have experienced embarrassment and much more.
This is a true story and its far stranger than most fiction.
Brace yourself and catch it. Capturing The Friedmans is very
bizarre and very powerful.
So then, my score card for this week reads thumbs up
for Charlies Angels, Respiro, and Capturing The Friedmans.
And one thumb down for 28 Days After.
For KUSPs Film Gang, this is Dennis Morton.