@@@@@ @ @ @@@@@ @ @ @@@@@@@ @ @ @@@@@ @@@@@ @@@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @@@@@ @@@@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @@@@@ @ @ @ @ @@@@@ @@@@@ @@@
Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
09/28/01 -- Vol. 20, No. 13
Table of Contents
Ed Felt (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
Back when I joined the System 75 Project at Bell Labs one of the people I worked with was Ed Felt. Ed was very much a nice guy. He was formerly of IBM. That was where he picked up the habit, I suppose. The Labs were pretty casual but he always had a starched-looking shirt and a tie.
You could always ask him a question and he would take the time to give you a clear answer. Ed always had a cheerful disposition. I cannot say I knew Ed really well. He was something of a friend. Ed wrote an e-mail query tool that I used very effectively for about ten years. It sort of became my secret weapon and compensated for my bad memory. People would ask me questions and Ed's tool would find me the old piece of email with the answer. They would be amazed at the information I could produce and it was really because I had Ed's tool.
I don't know if he was into scouting, but if he were he probably would have gone to Eagle Scout. He just seemed that kind of clean-cut idealist. If something needed to get done he was there and had it done a few days early. He lived in the next town over and he mentioned once or twice seeing Evelyn and me out driving. He probably lived something like a mile or two away.
When he made Distinguished Member of Technical Staff and got a private office, I moved into Ed's old seat. A few years ago Ed left Bell Labs. I went to his going away lunch and then I don't think I ever saw him again. Now that I think about it we did exchange email on how to fine-tune his query tool.
I found out today that Ed died recently. It was the morning of September 11th. A plane he was in piled into a mountain in Pennsylvania. A group of people on the plane had taken back control of the plane from some terrorists. The passengers gave up their hope of survival so that other people would be safe. Ed was on the plane. Was Ed one of the passengers who took the plane back? I guess we will never know. Do I think it was something Ed Felt might have done? Yeah. He was the type. [-mrl]
Crisis of Faith (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
I consider myself to be fairly liberal and also more libertarian than not. I am a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union. But I have to say that I also consider myself a pragmatist and there are times that I do stray from the purist adherence to those beliefs. I have crises of faith with a few of the supposedly liberal stands. People who follow my editorials know that I have some problems with some of the extreme actions and extreme opinions some people have in the name of feminism. This week I want to talk about a couple of others.
In general I am against any form of killing for any purpose except survival. I do not believe in hunting for any purpose except to preserve ones life. I believe in hunting is all right for food and in very cold climates hunting for fur. I think that beyond those two purposes, there is no such thing as a moral right to bear arms. In general the National Rifle Association should consider me an opponent. I certainly oppose them. But I also oppose the stand of the ACLU on gun ownership. More accurately they agree with my viewpoint on gun control and I am paying them to oppose me. It is like having a dentist recommend a brand of rich candy bar.
The ACLU has a position to defend Constitutional rights and some of the ones they defend are much more tenuously connected to the Constitution than the right to bear arms in well-ordered militias. I think that the Founding Fathers did not foresee what problems the second amendment would cause. Nevertheless the ACLU should be as protective of the second amendment as they are of the other nine. I still support gun control, but I while I do that I would like to think the ACLU is looking out for the Bill of Rights in case I go too far. But I do not have a lot of confidence in the consistency of their viewpoint.
The other issue, and another one where I would differ from the ACLU's viewpoint, is racial and ethnic profiling. For a couple of years now we have heard a great deal about police who racially profile motorists. I admit on the surface it sounds like a bad thing. But all along deep inside I know I don't know. That will probably infuriate some people, but hear me out. I can see circumstances in which racial or ethnic or gender profiling makes sense. Let's take an extreme case. Suppose the police are looking for a rapist and the victim can not identify the rapist. Should they be detaining equal numbers of men and women? After all very few men are rapists. But still you are 100% (or very nearly 100%) sure the person you are looking for will appear to be a man.
Let us look at an example in which it is not so sure? There currently is a hunt on for terrorists. I am almost certain that profiling is going on and people who get special attention are Muslims of Middle Eastern origin. Do all terrorists fit this mold? Certainly not. There are terrorists who are anarchists. There are some who are just unbalanced. Are most Muslims of Middle Eastern origin dangerous terrorists? No, only a very tiny percentage. Is there a correlation between terrorists and Muslims of Middle Eastern origin? You better believe there is one. Pick a terrorist threatening the United States and the odds are really good that he or she is a Muslim of Middle Eastern origin. There are certainly more than you would find by pure chance. And the reasons are obvious. So the investigators are giving special attention to Muslims of Middle Eastern origin. Is that fair? Under the current circumstances I would say it is. It is never a good thing when the innocent are inconvenienced, but the alternative is worse. It is one of the prices people pay in society.
So what about the police giving "special attention" to motorists of a particular ethnic background? It superficially seems wrong. But whether there is a correlation with the actual perpetrators or not, I don't know. And if the police only racially profile that will certainly skew the results since only people who fit the profile will be accused. It is easy to see that racial or ethnic profiling could be misused and give rise to great injustices. It could easily be misused. Perhaps it is being misused and abused. But its accusers are stating without proof that it definitely is being abused. It is not intrinsically wrong, however easy it would be to abuse. Accusers have the burden of proof that it is being abused. I think ethnic profiling in looking for terrorists is valid. But leave it to the professionals. Don't try it at home, kiddies. [-mrl]
Movie Trailers--Millennium Philcon (film comment by Mark R. Leeper):
The World Science Fiction Convention's annual presentation of upcoming films has devolved into a presentation that is mostly just a string of trailers for the films. It is really tough to tell how good films are from the trailers. I have become cynical about the films shown in these presentations. And while I was absolutely right about some films such as BLAIR WITCH PROJECT 2, I would be less than honest if I did not say that at least two excellent films when previewed looked like they would not be worth seeing. GATTACA, the best science fiction film of the 1990s looked from the trailer like a bad made-for-TV distopia. REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, which previewed like an incoherent mess, was a very fine film also. This report is doubly removed from reality since it is based on the trailers and not the films themselves and further it is only my impressions from the trailers. Two positive trends are noted. First overall the films look better this year than they have in previous years. A lot of these films I have some interest in seeing. The second not entirely unrelated trend is that while the film industry used to shy away from films set in historical eras under the assumption that schools were not doing a good job in teaching history. This year there seem to be four or five historical films. I hope they do well.
Now to my comments on the trailers.
1. PLUTO NASH stars Eddie Murphy in a comedy crime film set on what appears to be the moon. The idea, if that is the idea, has been done before as a nearly missing film, MOON ZERO TWO. That was not a great film, but this does not look a whole lot better. It look not so much like a space movie starring Eddie Murphy as an Eddie Murphy movie set in space.
2. ROLLERBALL is a remake of Norman Jewison's film based on a story by William Harrison. The original film mixed sports, violence, a view of the future, and introspection. The latter two are not obvious in the trailer of the new film. It has some familiar actors including Jean Reno. I am not fond of sports films, but it deserves a chance.
3. SHALLOW HAL is a trailer I have already seen in the theaters. Jack Black plays the main character. The plot is the story of a man who wants to date only beautiful women. Under hypnosis he is made to believe that even unattractive women are attractive. He falls for a grossly fat woman whom he sees as Gweneth Paltrow. The trailer has scenes that shows how fat the woman is, then we see it from the main character's eyes and it is Gweneth Paltrow who is making the huge splash in the pool. The film looks like a compendium of tasteless fat jokes simply being filmed with Paltrow. Curiously in a film industry that likes to use younger stars, an older man, perhaps older than would be dating, is cast as the disagreeable lead. Why insult the ticket-buying demographic? That is the bad news. The good news is that showing surprisingly more taste than the filmmakers did the audience booed the film. Perhaps mean-spirited, poorly written comedies are losing favor. I hope this film is not as bad as the trailer makes it look, but there is little reason for hope.
4. Recently we saw a fairly interesting update of an old low budget William Castle horror film, THE HOUSE ON THE HAUNTED HILL. That formula continues with the creaky classic 13 GHOSTS. F. Murray Abraham dies leaving a strange futuristic haunted house to some younger (presumably) relatives. If you have to remake an existing film, this is the way to do it. I cannot believe anyone has much fondness for the original. The first version was really just an exploitation film to show another use of red and green cellophane. You had a ghost viewer so you could see or not see the ghosts. Of course that is the kind of film that should be remade, not a CASABLANCA that so many people love.
5. AFFAIR OF THE NECKLACE seems to be a stylish film set in the late 19th century. It is hard to tell a lot from the trailer, but a film that works so hard to create the period probably will show care in other aspects.
6. HEARTS IN ATLANTIS stars Anthony Hopkins in a Stephen King story with a light tinge of fantasy. Hopkins appears to be a psychic who comes to live in a boarding house and forms a relationship with a young boy. Hard to say, but the film appears to take place at least a few years in the past. Word from film critic Dan Kimmel is that Hopkins is better than the rest of the film, though in my experience Kimmel tends to be less fond of sentiment than I am. [Previewed at Toronto: Not too bad a film.]
7. The next trailer seems to be telling the story of a young man in early 19th Century France. The dialog calls him Edmund Dantes and I let out an involuntary "Ah" of approval. The man is treated grossly unjustly and thrown into prison over circumstantial evidence. Of course he will spend years in prison only to escape, find a fabulous fortune, and seeking revenge return to France as his alter-ego THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO. The Alexander Dumas classic was due for a remake. It has been done for TV, but I do not know of a theatrical version since the old Robert Donat version. This version seems to play up his sword skills to add some visual excitement. This one I am looking forward to.
8. MONSTERS, INC is a Pixar animated film whose trailer is already in theaters. There is a good reason monsters hide under the bed. They are as afraid of humans as humans are of them. Monsters have there own world and one day a little girl crosses over. The film looks charming. Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and James Coburn lend their voices.
9. BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF looks like a very intriguing French horror film set in the 18th century. The countryside is up in arms about some sort of wolf-like monster making life difficult for the local populace. It may resolve to a werewolf film or may be something better. [Previewed at Toronto; familiar story, good period look sabotaged by anachronistic martial arts and 20th Century political attitudes. Disappointing in the long run.]
10. "Smallville", while it was not made clear here, is a TV series, not a film. It is about a humanoid from outer space sent to Earth by spaceship as a child. The boy, Clark Kent, is growing up not knowing who he really is and keeping to himself the fact he seems to be acquiring special powers including indestructibility. A lot of his problems are ones that any teenager might have. Some are unique to him. At least in the trailer there is no mention of the future we know he will have. (Nod, nod. Wink, wink.) It does sound like it will have more human values, perhaps like Buffy.
11. Next was a small piece on a theatrical film network film based on POWERPUFF GIRLS, the TV series on the Cartoon Network. It does not look like very good animation.
12. Another Alexander Dumas story is THE MUSKETEER. This is an adaptation of the frequently film adapted THE THREE MUSKETEERS. The period seems almost stylishly recreated but the photography is dark. Perhaps inspired by CROUCHING TIGER, the athletic seem to be assisted by an excess of not very believable wirework. Probably not very good. [By now it has been released and has gotten very, very bad reviews.]
13. THE SCORPIOM KING is the origin of the character we saw in THE MUMMY RETURNS. Not a lot can be told from the trailer, but the style seems to be borrowed from CONAN THE BARBARIAN. That could be worse. The character certainly did not look that good in THE MUMMY RETURNS. Still the audience seemed unimpressed by the trailer and hissing was heard.
14. The audience was much more pleased by the trailer for BC. We could not tell a lot about the movie, but what we saw was a sequence featuring a squirrel on an ice field trying to bury an acorn and causing himself a great deal of trouble in the process. The film is done in 3D animation. Whether BC is from the comic strip "Hey, BC" or if it is just some other story set in prehistoric times is not clear.
15. FROM HELL stars Heather Graham and Johnny Depp. The style seems similar to that of SLEEPY HOLLOW. This film takes place in London and is the story of a detective tracking Jack the Ripper. It is said to have an authentic recreation of the original murder sites. Stage sets were made on a scale unmatched since the Golden Years of Hollywood. It also claims to be a new way of looking at the Jack the Ripper case.
16. In THE ONE with something like 123 counts of murder, a killer (played by Jet Li) goes from one parallel universe to the next (as in the TV show "Sliders") killing people. Our universe's version of this person (also played by Jet Li) decides to stop him. Again the action is enhanced and made less believable with an excess of wirework. Delroy Lindo co-stars.
17. This coming attraction is a teaser showing a bank robbery filmed to reasonable action film standards. The robbers escape by helicopter. As the helicopter weaves its way among buildings suddenly it stops still in air. Then it seems to be bouncing around in air. It has been caught in a giant spider web. Cut to the title SPIDERMAN. We see one side of the head of Spiderman with a big dewy green eye. Now did Spiderman figure their route, get ahead of them and spin his web in time to catch them? Did I miss something? Was he also bitten by a radioactive version of The Flash? People were making a big fuss over this, but it does not look that good.
18. HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCEROR'S STONE looks like it has nice art and production design. It features actors like Maggie Smith and John Hurt. It looks like it recreates the look of a British boarding school very nicely. You can tell that a lot of care is going into the production. Chris Columbus will direct.
19. As the capper of the previews is a trailer for Peter Jackson's production of J. R. R. Tolkein's THE LORD OF THE RINGS. This looks like a beautiful production up to some of the best artwork that has been used to illustrate the classic fantasy. Jackson will do the trilogy as three films.
The trailers were followed by a question and answer period with presenter Jeff Walker. The following are among the facts gleaned. These should be regarded as strong rumors:
Romantic Comedies from the Toronto International Film Festival (film comments by Mark R. Leeper):
The Toronto Festival is a ten-day event. This year the halfway point was the morning of September 11. The events of that morning caused a sort of re-evaluation of what we had already seen and it certainly cast a sort of pall over what we were about to see. Every film after that point that a filmmaker presented--about half the films are presented by the people who made them--was described as somehow tied into the political situation. Mira Nair presented the first film we saw after the attack, MONSOON WEDDING. She said she was glad that for these times she had made a life-affirming film. Whether it was a particularly good film or a particularly bad film for the time is hard to judge. But particularly for comedies the mood you are in when you see them is all-important. Romantic comedies in particular are going to be hard to appreciate. These films were all seen after the events but for KISSING JESSICA STEIN. That film may be particularly hard hit since it takes place in Manhattan and apparently many of the external shot showed the World Trade Center in the distance. It should be noted that MONSOON WEDDING was voted in second or third place as the most popular film of the entire festival.
SERENDIPITY (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: Familiar-feeling romantic comedy from director Peter Chelsom. Two people meet, like each other, and leave to fate if they should meet again. Years later each decides they should be together and start searching for each other with very standard sorts of results. Fluffy and a lot like things you have seen before. Rating: 5 (0 to 10), low +1 (-4 to +4)
A few years ago there was a light romantic comedy called THE NIGHT WE NEVER MET. The point of that film was that two people whom the viewer knows are fated to find each other keep missing each other by inches. SERENDIPITY is a reworking of that idea. It is a story of Fate working overtime to have its two main characters meet. Each time the dramatic tension is greater and each time it is another near miss.
In a prolog Jonathan Trager (played by John Cusack) and Sara Thomas (the attractive Kate Beckinsale of PEARL HARBOR) meet in Bloomingdales when each wants to buy the same pair of gloves. There is immediate attraction, but each goes his own way. Then the two come together again. Is it fate that is bringing them together? Sara suggests they test it. She writes her name and address in a book, Jonathan writes his name on the back of a five- dollar bill. Sara sells the book Jonathan spends the bill. Will fate bring them back together? Flash forward a few years and both are making plans to be married but neither is totally happy with his intended. Each remembers the one that got away. Each decides to give fate another chance.
Marc Klein's screenplay gives us a pleasurable and amusing froth of a romantic comedy, if a little too predictable and undemanding to plot. It is easy enough to come up with any number of situations in which people just barely miss each other. That builds a tension of sorts, but the audience has strong expectations how it will all turn out. The viewer knows fate rules the lives of the characters since in this case the hand of fate is Marc Klein.
Few of the attempts at style or humor work. Eugene Levy plays officious clerk who is more irritating than funny. Worse to create a romantic effect director Peter Chelsom has not just music but songs on the music track. Notable is a cameo role for Buck Henry. There are also several opportunities to fit in the ever- popular New York City landmarks.
This is a lighthearted and frivolous romantic comedy that will not have a lot of appeal beyond audiences specifically looking that sort of film. In other words, though it is a cliche, this is a film for people who like this sort of thing. I rate it a 5 on the 0 to 10 scale and a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale.
MONSOON WEDDING (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: The Verma family is having a wedding and all the relatives will come for the multi-day festivities. Mira Nair's film is pleasant enough with a little human drama, a few family secrets, some sadness and some happiness. You have seen it all before, but perhaps not from India. The photography is colorful and the music is very agreeable. Rating: 7 (0 to 10), low +2 (-4 to +4)
Mira Nair previously directed SALAAM BOMBAY and MISSISSIPPI MASALA. Her newest film, written by Sabrina Dhawan, is very similar to previous films like BETSY'S WEDDING but it is set in New Delhi. A wealthy family is having a wedding. An Indian wedding is a multi-day affair as much a family reunion as a nuptial. Even more than in the US, it is an excuse for a lavish and extravagant family get-together. The film shows us what the family does together and at the same time follows several family members' individual story lines. Aditi Verma is marrying Hemant, an Indian engineer working in the US. She had previously had a relationship with Vikram, her supervisor. Latit, her father (played by Naseeruddin Shah), is juggling many problems, not the least of which is worrying about the caterer has hired PK Dubey. Dubey is a rather eccentric man with a taste for eating the marigolds he uses for decoration. Even Dubey will soon be romantically entangled when he becomes interested in Alice, one of the family servants. Several family members arrive giving rise to several plotlines involving sex, family secrets, or both. There are heartbreaks and there are people falling in love. Some of the subjects covered are probably near taboo for Indian films.
Western audiences will appreciate a look at unfamiliar Indian customs like women painting their hands with henna. On the other hand it was not clear (to me at least) if scenes like the family singing together are typical of Indian culture or if they are a convention of Indian musical films. This seems a particularly Westernized family with the father wearing American designer sweaters and the family speaking mostly English. The latter will, however, help with an international release.
Sabrina Dhawan's screenplay is vibrant with witty dialog. We have seen films with plotting very much like this, but the Indian setting makes a great deal of difference. Director Mira Nair calls the film an affirmation of life. I rate it a 7 on the 0 to 10 scale and a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale.
KISSING JESSICA STEIN (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: The plot is familiar but the writing is usually fresh, funny, and at times moving. Why can't Jessica find a nice guy? Is it because she is seeing a nice, and smart, girl? Heather Juergensen and Jennifer Westfeldt wrote and star in the film based on their own play chronicling the ups and downs of a straight woman who meets the bisexual Ms. Right. Rating: 6 (0 to 10), +1 (-4 to +4)
This is in many ways a fairly prosaic romantic comedy made only slightly less familiar by involving a straight woman who falls into a lesbian relationship. Many of the touches and certainly most of the plot twists are things we have seen before. Jessica Stein (played by Jennifer Westfeldt) is a self-assured, successful young woman in the New York publishing trade. The one hole in her lifestyle is her dysfunctional love life. Jessica is having a really hard time meeting the right man. Her mother (Tovah Feldshuh) is hoping she will meet the right Jewish guy. She goes from dating one man to the next and they are all losers in one way or another and generally not Jessica's intellectual equal. Then she reads a personals ad quoting Rainer Maria Rilke. Whoever placed this ad clearly has a brain. Unfortunately it is a woman seeking another woman, not at all what Jessica has in mind. Just curious to meet the woman who would place such an ad Jessica agrees to meet Helen Cooper (Heather Juergensen) with predictable results.
The screenplay is written by the two lead actresses based on their play "Lipschtick." As new writers they bring some fresh new writing to the film but for the rest they rely on cliche we have seen too frequently before. To show the losers that Jessica has been dating they have a montage of dates' faces, each saying something stupid. I saw that for the first time in SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT, but certainly not the last time. Men in small roles in the film are frequently stupid and the contemporary equivalents of Stepin Fetchit. On the other hand an office friend, Hannah Levine (not listed in any credits I can find) adds some real life to the film. She seems to be a graduate of the Thelma Ritter School of Acting. Frequently the writing is fresh as when Jessica is naive about the mechanics of lesbian sex and Helen has to explain it.
Charles Herman-Wurmfeld directs. This is not an outstanding film, but certainly parts of it work very well. I rate it a 6 on the 0 to 10 scale and a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale.
THE ART OF WOO (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: This is an attempt at writing a modern fairy tale. Alyssa Wong is a successful art expert who has to decide if she wants to marry for money or for love. The story calls for a woman with Audrey Hepburn charm and Sook-Yin Lee does not fill the bill. The film is contrived and dissatisfying. Rating: 3 (0 to 10), -1 (-4 to +4)
THE ART OF WOO attempts to be one of those films like BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S in which the audience is rooting for some sweet, vulnerable, irresistible woman to work out her problems and to find happiness. The problem is that Helen Lee who writes and directs seems to have written Alessa Woo (played by Sook-Yin Lee) as neither sweet nor vulnerable and she is quite resistible.
Alessa is a young woman who happens to be a brilliant art dealer in the Toronto art scene. This is some sort of alternate world art scene where people pay tens of thousands of dollars for paintings by talented beginners and dealers in these paintings fly back and forth to places like Switzerland. One of the most knowledgeable of the art dealers is Alessa. She also happens to be the center of adulation of her friends and every party has suitors camped outside her window.
Next door to Alessa moves struggling genius artist and Native American Ben Crowchild (Adam Beach). He sees that behind the facade that there is really a sad little girl within Alessa who really will not be happy with the rich art collector she is dating. Ben gets emotionally involved with Alessa. (As Alessa so delicately puts it, "We were bosom buddies, now we're fuck buddies.") But Alessa will have to decide whether she wants love with Ben or wealth with her rich suitor.
The real problem with the film seems to be Helen Lee's inability to decide what she wants to be saying. She undercuts nearly everything she wants us to believe about Alessa. Alessa is looking for financial security but she makes decisions about large sums of money for her clients. This appears to be a high profile and well-paid job. We are supposed to care about Alessa's feelings, but she coldly refuses to visit her own ailing father. Alessa cannot be portrayed as sweet and vulnerable if at an art auction she turns into OUR MAN FLINT.
This is a charmless romantic comedy that bets everything it has on the appeal of its main character and comes up double-zero. I rate it a 3 on the 0 to 10 scale and a -1 on the -4 to +4 scale.
CAPSULE: This super-light situation comedy from Sweden tells the story of two close friends with romantic problems. The script involves formerly taboo subjects like erotic toys and sexual enhancers but otherwise the writing is not a lot different from what is shown free on television. The characters are paper-thin and the interesting ideas purely non-existent. This is a decrement-life-by-90-minutes card. Rating: 4 (0 to 10), 0 (-4 to +4).
JALLA! JALLA! is basically an exuberant TV situation comedy written instead for the wide screen. It tells the story of two park custodians and the problems they are finding on the path to true love. The film is set in Sweden where Roro and Mans (Fares Fares and Torkel Petersson) are custodians at a public park. Roro is from a tightly knit Lebanese family who control him very closely, Mans is a Swede from a much more liberal background. They spend most of the day in the bushes at their park, cleaning up after dogs. Roro and Mans each have girlfriends, but each has a problem. Roro (nicknamed "Jalla") is having family problems. It seems that his family wants to arrange a marriage between him and a nice Lebanese woman, Yasmin (Laleh Pourkarim), but he is already in love with Lisa (Tuva Novotny). Yasmin likes Roro, but does not want to get married either. Mans on the other hand has been having a problem of sexual impotence. The two friends worry about their problems and discuss the problems with each other. Mans thinks the answer to his problem is to purchase sexual enhancers. The one catch is that he is too shy to go in and buy them. Roro and Yasmin decide to give themselves some time by telling the families that they want to marry each other, but then plan to break up before the wedding. Not too surprisingly neither finds that his idea works out the way he quite expected.
The plot turns in several places are contrived. One knows fairly quickly that if things are going to work our happily for everybody certain plot contrivances have to happen. Lebanese-born Josef Fares who wrote and directed is perhaps a better director than he is a writer. When things start to get slow, he just adds throws in another story. For example halfway into the film Mans innocently antagonizes some local toughs and a long chase is added to the film. Characterization is a little better with Roro than it is with Mans who does not seem to have a whole lot more personality beyond fear for losing a biological function. We do see some of Roro's family life and his concerns. That may be because Roro's background is a lot like that of the director.
While the story was entertaining, I did not feel that I got anything worthwhile from the film. It was just a way to pass about an hour and a half in my life. One does not have to go to the movies to see entertainment like this. I rate it a 4 on the 0 to 10 scale and a 0 on the -4 to +4 scale. [-mrl]
Mark Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Quote of the Week: Bores bore each other too, but it never seems to teach them anything. --Don Marquis
Go to my home page