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Be Kind Rewind

August 24, 2010

Be Kind Rewind (2007)
Director: Michel Gondry
Actors: Mos Def, Jack Black, Danny Glover

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Synopsis: Friends in a New Jersey video-store come up with a novel way of trying to compensate for all their videos being accidentally wiped.

Review: Michel Gondry’s cinematic penchant for anarchic whimsy reaches its logical dramatic and thematic conclusions in this diverting piece of fluff about a clerk and patron of the local video-store who devise an ingenious way of providing DIY (“Sweded”) versions of popular titles when the existing video collection gets accidentally wiped. Extra mileage is gained by Gondry engendering a deeper, historical subplot to the seeming ‘high concept’ by exploring how the community of this near-derelict town of Passaic, NJ (on the outskirts of New York – beautifully set up in an ironic opening tracking shot of the city) revitalise the spirit of their neighbourhood by embracing the filmmakers’ ethos of industry, self-assertion and the resistance of capital values. While clearly an ambitious canvas, the film ultimately works unconvincingly in that regard and plays more simply as apologism for Gondry’s own imaginative and playful sensibility.

In its broader guise as a comedy, the film also has flaws – though the somewhat surreal and esoteric skits (all sight gags and film references) are an acquired taste. The main problem lies with Gondry’s inability to devise a sufficiently engaging drama, with too little time spent fleshing out necessary nuances to the narrative and characters, and too much time spent on indulging Jack Black’s relentless mugging and Gondry’s own lo-tech conceits. (May 2008)

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