Saturday, March 22, 2008

movie review: be kind rewind

So before I really get into writing all of this, I'll preface my post by admitting that this is probably my first review, at least on here, and that I'm going to be decidedly unapologetic about my opinions.   Moral of the story?  If you disagree with me, I guess you can say something about it, but your time might be better served going somewhere else.  Anyway..
I'll start right off by saying I loved this movie.  Loved it.  I'd pay to see it twice- in fact, I actually did (Kaya don't say I never did nothing fo' yo' ass).  It was an excellent mix of funny, sweet, genuine, down to earth and sombre, all things that make a movie go from good to great.  For those of you not familiar with the general concept of the film, I'll go ahead break it down for you:
Be Kind Rewind is a story following a lovably awkward group of misfit characters caught in the monotony of their everyday lives in the unbearably static yet ominously evolving community of Passaic, New Jersey.  Mike (Mos Def) is a young man living with and working for his adoptive father figure Mr. Fletcher in 'Be Kind Rewind,' a slightly archaic (their only medium is the already obsolete video cassette) video store and community mainstay whose claim to fame is "1 day 1 dollar" rentals.  When Mike's best friend, a neurotic mechanic named Jerry (Jack Black), hatches a plan to foil "the power plant" that is secretly "controlling" everyone in their community, he accidently creates an intense magnetic field around himself, and, in so doing, erases all of the tapes in 'Be Kind Rewind' on his next visit.  After this a bunch of hilarity ensues as Mike and Jerry try to cover their asses by re-filming hobo'd, 20-minute versions of the films in the store, which surprisingly become a hit in the community.
What you won't see in the previews for Be Kind is the elephant-in-the-room issue of gentrification and the racial segmentation of communities.  What you quickly learn as the film takes off, is that 'Be Kind Rewind' is in very real danger- the Housing and Zoning department of Passaic wants to demolish the building to make way for new condominiums, "improving the life of the people in this community."  So, what once began as an attempt to stay out of trouble becomes a desperate and hurried mission to save the store from demolition and its inhabitants from having to relocate to the projects.
Normally for a movie like this I'd be all moved by the messages and have the humor as an added bonus, but Gondry doesn't do that.  The film carries like a billion different messages (just read the reviews out there that discuss pop-culture consumption, the creation and ownership of art, race relations and creating community) but is able to refrain from really preaching any one of them.  He doesn't make anyone the clear "bad guy" (lol, well, maybe nobody but Sigourney Weaver, who also has a cameo toward the end of the film) and won't give the audience a corny, cookie-cutter set-up or ending.  It seems like it would be annoying, but what it really ends up being is very open and honest- you are let into these people's lives, and while your moment of voyeurism might be during a particularly comedic and turbulent time for them, there is no move made on their part to make you comfortable or pleased, they just exist, and I personally think that they, and the film, are better for it.
So yeah, this was kind of rambly, and didn't' say everything I felt (I don't want to give anything away) but suffice it to say that this was one of the best moviegoing experiences I've had in a long while.  Gondry, Black, Glover and Mos Def managed to make me feel a melange of emotions: joy, rage, excitement, sympathy, outrage, nostalgia, and most of all- enjoyment.
[EDIT] And just because he's great, here is a Mos Def video.  Mos, if you're reading this, I love you.  Even if you do have like 8 baby-mommas... lol.

1 comment:

kaya said...

who doesn't love mos? he's great. and he looked adorable in that little baby-blue polo shirt with the long-sleeve T underneath. not everyone can pull that off without looking like a tool.

this was a good movie review. i agreed with all of its points.