Thursday, April 21, 2011

From the archives: August 2008

This month's pleasant surprise was unexpected, to say the least: a two-year-old French thriller, finally making its way to the States, and based on a novel by American crime novelist Harlan Coben. An awkward fit, you might think ... but far from it. Tell No One wasn't merely one of the best thrillers I'd seen in years, at the time; it's still one of the best thrillers I've seen in years. If you've not yet had the pleasure, stop wasting time ... and if subtitles make you nervous, get over it.

Other worthwhile efforts included an engaging urban fantasy, a slick espionage thriller ripped from present-day terrorism concerns, and a charming return visit with the four young actresses who brought the first Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book to the big screen three years earlier.

The month had its share of disappointments, of course, starting with the realization that George Lucas will sink to any necessary depths, in order to squeeze more money from his Star Wars franchise. While the extended Clone Wars chapter would have been easy to ignore as the ongoing TV series it became, I was forced to pay attention to the big-screen "film" that kicked things off ... and the word "film" appears in quotation marks for the simple reasons that Star Wars: The Clone Wars wasn't even a true movie, but rather the first few TV episodes strung together, to feature length. I call that dishonesty in advertising.

The jaw-dropper, though, was the degree to which Pineapple Express caught the public's attention. I guess there's no such thing as a failed stoner comedy, even one that boasts a wretched script, a $1.97 budget and ham-bone "acting" that wouldn't pass muster at a junior high school talent show. (And the fact that star James Franco was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, for his work in this film, says all that needs saying, about that body of voters.)

Equally ill-advised: the decision to remake Brideshead Revisited, which had been such a splashy, must-see TV hit as an 11-hour miniseries, back in 1981. File this attempt under "What were they thinking," and don't waste your time. Indeed, seek out the miniseries instead; three decades have passed, after all ... plenty of time to have forgotten all the wonderful narrative depth that kept so many viewers transfixed, back in the day.

As for the rest, step into the Wayback Machine, and check 'em out:

Bottle Shock

Brideshead Revisited

Henry Poole Is Here

Pineapple Express

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Tell No One


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