Sunday, March 2, 2008

Be Kind Rewind Impressions (Plus Surprises from the Pacific)

First, this was a gift that Stephanie made for her students that graduated several hours ago in Japan. I wanted to post this up because I thought it looked really impressive. It took three hours to make paper roses of different colors. Try to count how many there are....seriously, shoot for it.

"Be Kind Rewind" is not a great film. Hell, it is not even a good film. In fact, the film is really a case of self-indulgence for Michel Gondry. This is the FIRST time that I can safely say that I felt the director's passion or love for the project despite disliking the film. There are a multitude of problems with "Be Kind Rewind," but I am only going to focus on the elements that really bothered me. The script was also written by Michel Gondry and feels as patched together as the "sweded" works that it features. "I do not know if this was intentional, but it hurts the film either way. You can tell that he just threw scenes into the film on a whim and could have cared less about editing it all together into a cohesive project. This is evident in the characters themselves. Jack Black's character is a jerk while Mos Def just has mentor issues with Danny Glover. The characters are NOT compelling ENOUGH. I want to stress "ENOUGH" because there was a HUGE opportunity here. However, the scenes that would represent character development are patched into the plot. There is also a level of CHEESE in this film that may sit uncomfortably with the audience. I tried to keep my mind open, but I could only sit there fathoming why this movie had almost the same ending as "Angels in the Outfield." At least, that ending fit. I do not want to spoil this film, but I think you have the idea.

However, this film also dredged up emotions that I have long since forgotten. For the uninitiated, I used to make films in high school. For some reason, I became an icon of some sort for being a lone Asian American who carried video camera around the school. In fact, almost all my pictures were sweded! My first film was an English project about Frankenstein. With only a camera and a tape recording as my starting materials, I made a film that stole the hearts of everyone at the school. Like Gondry's film, I filmed everything chronologically (no editing) and relied on anything I could find to make the moments cinematic. I made gravestones out of cereal boxes, played cassette recordings during rolling scenes, and even devised contraptions for complicated scenes (such as Frankenstein's birth which was just a Pink Panther doll, hangers, and cloth). Gondry's film made me remember how great it felt to create a cinematic experience with no budget and just love. However, there is more to this story. After I made my film, my high school peers started making their own "sweded" films. I was later credited for starting a Film Club movement in the school. Why? Why do people love these crappy high school films?

Michel Gondry answers this question in the film. For my high school peers, making a film always seemed like a distant world from their own. When they watch films in a theater, they view Hollywood and CINEMA as a separate entity that they could never make on their own. Sure, they could make home movies, but these are not films. After all, can we create inventive car chases, martial arts scenes, or emotionally driven epiphanies in the rain? Prior to my work on these projects, they never even considered that they could accomplish this on a regular video camera. Once I pulled it off, everyone either wanted to be in my film or be a part of a production process. Basically, a new avenue of creativity opened up. There was a creative explosion at the school. Every time someone made a film, they would set up showings in the library so people could watch it during study hall. Gondry's film echoes this great feeling of making a film with your peer and for your peers. Although I made films in college later, I always felt that my first high school films represented a love of film that did not rely on fancy editing or sweeping special effects. Creating a "sweded" film is more complicated, but it was the most fun I ever had making films in retrospect. Sorry for the long post, but I assure you that this is as close as I will get to "personal blog posting." Now for your entertainment....

This is a fan trailer that an Anime fan made that honors Ghibli films (Totoro, Nausicca, Mononoke, etc.) It is also in the style of the Chronicles of Narnia trailer. Practically, frame by's pretty cool.

No comments: