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Bryan Young

Bryan Young

Posted: January 30, 2008 12:08 AM

Sundance Review: Be Kind Rewind


Warning: there are spoilers in this review...

After attending the world premiere of Be Kind Rewind, I have to say that I was surprised by this picture. The film is fairly straightforward and the marketing material genuinely reflects the thrust of the picture. Danny Glover owns a video store (a VHS video store) that's going under and decides he needs to take a trip to find out what makes a successful video store (he notes "less selection, more copies, lack of general knowledge by employees", etc.) He leaves the store in the care of Mos Def with only one instruction: keep Jerry out. Jack Black is Jerry. And he's a loon. He thinks the power plant is microwaving everyone's brains and hatches a scheme to sabotage it.

In turn, he ends up becoming magnetized and waltzes into the video store, insulting customers and erasing every tape on every shelf.

Soon, he and Mos Def are caught with their pants down and need to remake Ghostbusters and fast, otherwise Danny Glover will find out that something is wrong and be disappointed. As the film progresses (just like the trailer) people find the "Sweded" videos better than the originals and with more heart. Soon, they've earned enough money to save the video store, but the movie studios (Sigourney Weaver) find out about the sweded pictures and runs them all over with a bulldozer. The community who's made the videos popular reacts with one last grand gesture: to make their own movie about the history of a figure in their neighborhood.

The film has a surprising amount of heart.

So surprising that I was shocked to find myself tearing up at the end of the picture. Here I am, watching a group of people just watching a movie and it's got me almost crying. The heart this film supplied was so subtle and brilliant, I didn't even realize it until it crept up on me.

I can see this film playing much better to a crowd of filmmakers though, than the general public. The sweded pictures they make look like all the films every kid interested in film made in jr. high, but with much more cleverness and creativity. It was, as the guy who introduced the film and Jack Black reiterated, lyrical.

And it was also ironic that this picture sort of embodied the themes of what Sundance wishes it still was. Small people, away from (or in spite of) the studios, making films that mean something, whether they're good or not. Sundance is now premiering U2 concert videos and the new Chuck Palahnuick picture. Which is fine, but they just can't say they're independent anymore.

All in all, this film is solid and I would hope that it sees a release larger than the arthouse release Science of Sleep saw.

Bryan Young blogs daily at This Divided State. You can see clips from his forthcoming film, Killer At Large, at www.killeratlarge.com.

For more reviews from Sundance, click here.

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