Saturday, November 29, 2003

Holiday Movies

Wednesday, I left work early and went to see Timeline. It's based on the book by Michael Crichton. It's a measure of the studio's confidence in this latest Crichton vehicle that when I searched for an official website, I couldn't find one (not in the top Google picks, anyway).

Like most Crichton movies, you can read the book and feel like you just saw the movie, or watch the movie and feel like you just read the book. I did both, and after reading the book, I knew the movie was going to be one of his lighter efforts. And I was right. Just the right size to fill out a holiday afternoon, no greater impact.

Yesterday evening, Jean and I (with occasional participation by Kelly), watched The Fast Runner. This is a movie I wish I'd seen in the theatre, but as I've griped before, Regal Cinemas does not see fit to show many art/independent/foreign films in the 'burbs. And I find it difficult to make it to downtown Portland for the few they show there.

The Fast Runner seems a not to distant cousin to Italian for Beginners, another film Jean introduced me to through video rental. This was, you might recall, a Dogme 95 film, one of a collection of movies made by directors who have bound themselves to 'The Vow of Chastity'.

The Fast Runner had the same sparse presentation, intimate concern with everyday lives, and generally simple production values as Italian for Beginners. It departs from Dogme 95 in that there is occasional music overlaid onto a scene which is not produced by the characters themselves (very infrequently), and there are one or two video effects. But it otherwise felt very much like a Dogme 95 film, including the effort needed to absorb the story.

Timeline requires no effort, and in fact is fed to you with such eagerness that at several points I was shaking my head wondering who their target audience was. The Fast Runner requires your attention and doesn't talk down to you. It is a very absorbing film, and I'm glad I saw it.

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