Monday, June 20, 2011

From the archives: April 2008

Happy surprises are the best part of this job; sharing them runs a close second.

Because I'm not fortunate enough to live in one of our country's top movie markets — major cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Chicago — indie and foreign films often open months later for us. In the worst case, and this happens every year, I'm not able to see all the nominees for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award, before the actual ceremony. That can make life difficult for those of us who enjoy trying to predict the Oscars; lacking access to one or more titles is a serious handicap.

Such was the case this year, with The Counterfeiters; it only reached our neck of the woods a few months after having won that year's Foreign Film Academy Award. And no surprise there: It's a magnificent drama, and one of the most engrossing WWII Holocaust stories ever made ... and, mind you, that's a busy sub-genre. Indeed, as I mentioned in my review, I continue to be astonished by the wealth of fresh "takes" on this horrific period in human history; it seems there's always a new set of circumstances that speaks anew to the dignity, courage and moral clarity of one or more individuals.

Nobody argued the merits of The Counterfeiters. On the other hand, Leatherheads was pretty much dead on arrival: a wholly unjustified fate for a delightful period comedy with pleasant echoes of Hollywood's best 1930s and '40s screwball farces. If it escaped you the first time around — and that wouldn't surprise me — do take advantage of home-video afterlife.

Leatherheads' failure to find an audience merely puzzled me; I was saddened when the same fate befell Nim's Island. As with numerous other notable family films with young female heroines, this one also failed to click with viewers. Really, must we always have resourceful boys as protagonists, in order for such films to succeed? Haven't we gotten past that gender divide yet?

Apparently not.

The rest of the month offered a mixed bag, from the welcome pairing of Jackie Chan and Jet Li, to yet another uber-violent saga of morally bankrupt cops. Forgetting Sarah Marshall offered a few bright moments of smutty sexual farce; Married Life should have been divorced prior to filming.

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

The Counterfeiters

The Forbidden Kingdom

Forgetting Sarah Marshall


Married Life

Nim's Island

Street Kings

Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?

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