Wednesday, February 9, 2011

From the archives: April 2009

The Fourth Estate flickered into big-screen life this month, with a pair of compelling dramas.

The sensational British miniseries State of Play lost none of its impact when adapted for American viewers and brought to these shores; indeed, the unsettling rise of blogging  over traditional investigative reporting  gave this version even more juice.

Similarly, the value of a dedicated newspaper columnist is illustrated by The Soloist, based on Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez's series of pieces on a rather unusual musician. This deeply moving film was all but abandoned at the box office, and deserved a better fate; perhaps home-viewing afterlife will be more kind.

France delivered a top-notch, school-based drama with The Class, and Miley Cyrus brought her enormously popular alter-ego to the big screen with the crowd-pleasing Hannah Montana, The Movie.

On the other hand, a pair of noisy and extremely poor sequels demonstrated Hollywood at its money-grubbing worst, with Crank: High Voltage and Fast & Furious good for nothing but robbing the pockets of fans suckered into purchasing tickets.

Although those two are bad, at least they're honest; Disney quite reprehensibly tried to trick viewers into believing that Earth  the first entry in the Mouse House's new DisneyNature documentary series  was a "new" film, when in fact it's nothing but excerpts from the masterful Discovery Channel series, Planet Earth. Shame, shame!

The month's quiet prize, though, is Adventureland: a poignant little indie drama that showcases the talents of Jesse Eisenberg, who in two short years would find himself nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. Kristen Stewart, too, shines in this quiet drama, which was made before she became a household name with the Twilight franchise. Humble beginnings can be fascinating, after the fact ... particularly when they're this enjoyable.

Step into the Wayback Machine, and check 'em out:


The Class

Crank: High Voltage


Fast & Furious

Hannah Montana, The Movie

The Soloist

State of Play

Sunshine Cleaning

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