RECALLING THE FAMILIAR, DISCOVERING THE NEW
THREE FILMS THAT CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO
I have total recall of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s over-the-top 1990 version of Philip K. Dick’s novel directed Paul Verhoeven. No doubt the maker’s of this reboot are hoping you don’t.
The newest iteration of Dick’s enigmatically layered short story (“We Can Remember it for You Wholesale”) reflects his recurring themes of identity, perception and memory in shaping what we think of as reality. My guess is at least a dozen (credited and uncredited) screenwriters hacked away at Dick’s core material for this movie that dumps the unpleasant, somewhat misogynistic, satirical tone of the previous movie version as well as the Martian setting that was not part of Dick’s story. The latest film version is set 50 years in the future after the devastating effects of chemical warfare which has rendered most of the world uninhabitable. Now, the eastern and western hemispheres battle for world domination. Colin Farrell is Quaid, a bored, drone of a factory worker who lives in the worker hive Colony (formerly Australia?) but works on the other side of the world for the sophisticated, tech savvy British Federation. He seeks escape from his humdrum life and checks in with a company called Rekall for an injection — literally — of new, more exciting memories of a life as an action hero super spy. Just as he’s about to undergo the procedure a swat team invades the lab and shoots up the place. Farrell’s character fights back, kills them and goes on the run for the rest of the movie — which is basically one big chase. But is it real or part of the fantasy he signed up for? This question dogs Quaid as well as the movie-goer.
Len Wiseman directs in a fast-paced, breathless style not unlike his blue-hued UNDERGROUND vampire movies (that also feature Kate Beckinsdale, the director’s wife).
Beckinsdale plays Farrell’s wife – who later tells him she’s really a secret agent and not his wife. Got that? Jessica Biel is a resistance fighter and Bryan Cranston –the ubiquitous actor who seems to be in every new movie — plays the bewigged heavy Vilos Cohaagen. In a terrific Q&A and Palme d’Or, Cranston spoke of the things he used and thought of to bring his character alive: Hair like a lion and that he was in fact the true father of Colin’s character. The movie has some sharp warnings about our real world woes — especially if we continue in the direction we seem to be heading. TR may not be a great film, but it is a fun, action-adventure that plays with familiar ideas in a strikingly designed futurescape that is believable. Eye-candy quotient is maxed out. Now showing.
Idrissa is a young African refugee who crosses paths with Marcel, an older Bohemian who shines shoes for a living in the French port city of Le Havre.
Upbeat Marcel and his close-knit community embrace the boy and stand up to officials who relentlessly pursue Adrissa for deportation. This heartfelt comedy drama is much more than a political fairy tale. It’s really about how we are all connected and the complications of taking to heart the old adage of loving your neighbor. This beguiling film was written and directed by Aki Kaurismaki and is worth finding and highly recomended. Criterion. Blu-ray.
Set in today’s Iran, Writer-director Asghar Farhadi’s
extremely compelling drama centers on the dissolution of the marriage of Simin and Nader. The seemingly simple set-up of this Best Foreign Language Oscar© winner seduces us as complications quickly set in.
Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader and daughter Termeh, but when Nader refuses to leave behind his Alzheimer afflicted father, Simin sues for divorce and returns to her parents’ home. Their daughter Termeh decides to stay with her Nader, her father.
In his wife’s absence, Nader hires a young woman to help care for his father. He wrongly assumes his life will soon get back to normal. However, that wish is not to be when he discovers that the new maid has been lying to him. Suddenly, there’s a lot more at stake than his fragile marriage.
This terrific film might as well be a thriller set on another planet because it moves way beyond one couple’s unraveling marriage and explores the ever-widening gaps between generations, ideologies, theologies, sexes and classes in modern Iran. This is not the world of the west, yet we understand the passion, anger and pain. Dynamic, piercing, brilliant and riveting, it’s as much about the human condition as it is about the zeitgeist of life in contemporary Iran. Sony. Blu-ray
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