Friday, August 31, 2007

Rescue Dawn and why I should replace the guy reviewing movies for BostonNOW.

I don't think Rescue Dawn is playing much anywhere, which is a bummer. I caught it on the last day it was in Arlington, and almost missed it there - I'd been doing some work-delay at the office when I noticed that it wasn't on the next day's listings. I'm not sure how I let it slip to a month and a half, other than that it was one that opened while I was in Montreal and then the new releases sort of shouted it down until it was almost too late.

Speaking of Fantasia and new releases... I repurposed my review of Ils (Them) for BostonNOW (link here), and picked one up today to see if they'd used it.

No. And aside form John Black's review being, well, wrong, he goes and blurts out the ending in the second of his three paragraphs. Why do that? Did Mr. Black dislike the movie so much that he had to undercut something the filmmakers clearly didn't want the audience to know, but highlight how they had kept hidden what he chose to blurt out? There's not recommending a movie, and then there's aggressively spoiling the end so that readers might figure there's no point in seeing it.

I kid in the title about how I should replace him - I know I probably wouldn't know the first thing about being an "entertainment editor", but geez - how hard is it to write three short paragraphs without giving away the movie's ending?

(Yeah, I suppose this could be construed as biting the hand that feeds me, but this blog has gotten two hits over the past month from BostonNOW. They don't feed me that much.)

So, in short - don't read the review in that paper. See Ils at Kendall Square. You'll be better off.

Rescue Dawn

* * * * (out of four)
Seen 23 August 2007 at the Arlington Capitol #6 (second-run)

Werner Herzog has covered this material before, in his documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly, but let's face it, people don't really watch documentaries. It's easy to see why telling the story that way would not be enough for Herzog; Dieter Dengler's story is the sort of thing that has always fascinated him - and which he's very good at putting on film.

It's man versus jungle, and this time, the jungle is Laos and the men are prisoners of war. Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale) is the latest, captured after his plane is shot down during a bombing run. He is brought to a secluded camp, where he is thrown in a cell with Phisit (Abhijati Jusakul), Procet (Lek Chaiyan Chunsuttiwat), Duane (Steve Zahn) and Gene (Jeremy Davies). They've been there for months and years, but Dieter has no intention of staying that long and having his mind go as seems to be happening to them. He's getting out, even though Duane points out that the jungle itself is as potentially lethal an obstacle as any guard tower would be.

What makes Dieter able to plot and survive an escape when few if any other POWs could? As Christian Bale depicts him, Dieter has both the ingenuity and some of the naïveté of a precocious child, quickly seeing how things might fit together in ways that a more rigid mind might not while at times remaining blithely ignorant of just how hostile everything around him is: There's a definite element of Dieter being too stupid/inexperienced to be scared, at least compared to the other prisoners, along with occasional fits of petulance. Of course, he'll gain that experience over the course of the story, but Bale's performance is so good that I don't recall a specific spot where desperation started to challenge Dieter's confidence. The way he carries himself also shows the physical toll imprisonment takes - I don't think he dropped a lot of weight like he did for The Machinist or Tom Hanks did for Cast Away, but it sometimes seems like he did.

Full review at HBS.

Now, please, announce this sucker on one of the HD formats.

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