Perhaps not as stellar a selection as last week, but not too shabby either. The pick this week is obviously The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, but those of you not in the mood for high art, you’ve got Hollywood’s sugar-coated flavors of the week to choose from. But why would you choose Bubblegum when you could get Mint Chocolate Chip instead?
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
A magnificent, life affirming film that was shamelessly snubbed by the Foreign Academy Awards Committee. It tells the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered from “locked in syndrome,” where his mind was fully active but his entire body was paralyzed (with the exception of his right eye). The beginning of the film is told completely from his perspective and the effect is extraordinary. Bauby went on to write (or blink, as it were) a memoir of his experiences, which served as the basis for the film. Bittersweet and touching, this is not one to be missed.
Recommended if you liked The Sea Inside
The Golden Compass
Perhaps what The Golden Compass will best be remembered for is being one of the final nails in New Line’s coffin. The studio that rolled the dice on Lord of the Rings and won big, slowly squandered their wealth on poor cinematic offerings and lawsuits with Peter Jackson, resulting in bankruptcy and subsequent acquisition by Warner Brothers. The adaptation of the first book in Phillip Pullman’s bestselling His Dark Materials trilogy had a lot to do with that. In spite of being a visual feast and discovering one of the best child actors in recent years, the film lacks focus and commits the cardinal sin of being tedious. The introduction of the magnificent polar bears nearly an hour into the film is too little, too late, and the ending suffers from crippling sequelitis. A commercial failure, books 2 and 3 aren’t going to see the light of day any time soon, making The Golden Compass a kind of mean trick. Imagine watching The Fellowship of the Ring but never being able to see The Two Towers or The Return of the King and you’ll see what I mean.
Recommended only if you’ve read the book and absolutely have to see what it looks like on the big screen.
One of the tragic, untold stories of World War II, the Japanese rape of Nanking took nearly 200,000 lives and matched the Nazi holocaust step for step in evil and brutality. This documentary is an important look but not an easy one. Featuring interviews and rare archival photos and footage, it takes a hard, long look into the face of man’s inhumanity to man as well as the compassion and bravery that can survive in the midst of chaos.
Recommended if it was important for you to see Schindler’s List, even if you knew you wouldn’t enjoy it
We’ve had wedding themed romantic comedies with wedding planners, best friends, and runaway brides, so why not one about one with a fetish for bridesmaid dresses? (guess how many she wears…just guess) Toss Cyclops into the mix (James Marsden sans totally sweet red lazer visor thingy) as an aspiring writer who decides to make Katherine Heigel (Miss Bridesmaid) his journalistic magnum opus (titled “The Perpetual Bridesmaid”), and you have the perfect recipe for Serious Romantic Complications. Yada yada yada, if chick flicks are your thing, I’m sure you’ll find something to enjoy. I, for one, am just disappointed that Marsden doesn’t fry an entire bridal party with his eyes.
Recommended if you liked The Wedding Planner, Runaway Bride, or My Best Friend’s Wedding