Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Be Kind Rewind

Be Kind Rewind (Michel Gondry, 2008) [6]

Be Kind Rewind certainly is whimsical and slight on its appearance but it does go beyond its somewhat goofy premise to attempt to say something about the movies and what they mean to us. That is falls a little short is a summation for the film as a whole. Jack Black and Mos Def play two guys who work/hang around a thrift and video store on a corner in Passaic, New Jersey. After becoming magnetized, Jerry (Black) accidentally erases the information off of all the tapes in the store. The two's plan to remedy the situation is to recreate films such as Ghostbusters and Rush Hour 2 among others using an old VHS camcorder. Jerry and Mike's versions somehow become favorites in the neighborhood, and the store has a new way to attempt to ward off gentrifying developers. Gondry is one of the few people that could take this offbeat, halfway believable idea and at least make it passable. His whimsical nature (see The Science of Sleep) make what's going on here believable and endearing. There's something in these crummy VHS re-creations that is oddly appealing. It has a certain pure joy of cinema; that it's not really about how a film looks, it's more about what's behind it. It's this idea that cinema is important in the memories it makes in our minds. It's not that important if Mike and Jerry get the story right; what's more important, for the film and Gondry, is the DIY aesthetic and the personal experience of it. It doesn't hurt that there are some genuinely funny moments that come out of those recreations either. The end of the film gets a little bogged down by being too Capraesque and a Fats Waller subplot/film that while impressive, is a little too disjointed from the rest of the film. The film stretches its theme of 'film as interpretation of memories' a bit too much at the end. And yet, it still manages to have some endearing qualities out of ideas that seem slight.

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