Swede This, Gondry

Do we get to win this time?When I saw “Son of Rambow” as a FIPRESCI juror at the London film festival last fall — it was one of a dozen titles under consideration for our prize — I loved it without reservation, and was surprised to find a number of British critics dismissing it out of hand for its “commercial” aspirations.

I mean, really. There’s nothing inherently wrong with commercial filmmaking, so long as it’s done with some intelligence and style. Consider “Iron Man”, for example; there’s nothing in it we haven’t seen before, structurally or stylistically, but all the parts are assembled in an engaging manner.

None of the plot points of “Son of Rambow” will surpise you if you’ve ever seen a movie before. What does surprise, and delight, is the skill with which it all happens. So basically you should see this lovely little film.

Also opening today:

The Babysitters“: Katherine Waterston’s spiky performace is a stunner, but she can’t stop David Ross’ indie drama from degenerating into a weird, ironic scold about these kids today, with their casual disregard for morality and their being okay with turning the odd suburban trick to raise money for college. This is Grandpa Simpson’s worst nightmare — and therefore John McCain’s as well.

My Blueberry Nights“: In which we discover Wong Kar Wai’s movies are a lot less compelling when we can actually understand the nuances. Also, if Jude Law’s character is from Manchester, my brothers-in-law would like a word with him. (And that word is “wanker”.)

“Redbelt”: David Mamet turns his eye to the ruthless world of competitive mixed martial-arts. Which, I guess, is still a bunch of guys swinging their junk at each other until somebody blinks, but now it’s way sweatier. Jason views it in the appropriate context.

Speed Racer“: The Wachowski Brothers take the concept of live-action anime to its logical extreme — a two-and-a-quarter-hour seizure. Also, if you thought the TV series never bothered to acknowledge Chim-Chim’s essential nature, he does finally throw his own feces.

“The Stone Angel”: Kari Skogland takes on a Canadian literary classic long thought to be unfilmable. I managed to miss it at the festival, but the idea of casting Cole Hauser and father Wings as different versions of the same character sounds interesting. Glenn saw some merit.

“The Unknown Woman”: Six years after the atrocious “Malena”, Guiseppe Tornatore gets his act together with this effectively creeper about an Eastern European domestic (Kseniya Rappoport) with a none-too-hidden agenda. Adam thinks it works, too.

“What Happens in Vegas …”: Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher wake up married after some kind of drunken wackiness, and then find themselves welded together when she wins a jackpot with his quarter. It’s that episode of “Friends” meets “Just Married” meets “Sour Grapes”! You couldn’t drag me to it! Andrew took the bullet, the poor noble bastard.

Seriously, go see “Son of Rambow” this weekend. It’s awesome.

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