Day Six: Wait, Something’s Missing…

October 7, 2007 at 6:13 am 1 comment

So, what happened to the blog post yesterday?

Life happened to the blog post yesterday.

Dear readers, I promise to never let real life get in the way of entertaining you again.

Carrying on! I have reviews for you, from films shown at the Vancouver International Film Festival! Read what made it in the paper, and then learn what was too cool for university-level journalism! First up…

In the Shadow of the Moon

For a film about something as grand as the Moon landing, In the Shadow of the Moon is surprisingly limited in scope. It is the story of the Apollo astronauts in their own words, but it turns out that their words are not particularly interesting when stripped of context and stretched to 100 minutes.

Shadow of the Moon does have some great moments. There are beautiful (stock-footage) shots of the lunar launches, a captivating score, and some genuinely interesting interviews; Buzz Aldrin’s tale of being the first man to pee on the Moon brought down the house.

However, when not discussing the astronauts themselves, the film becomes apathetic. The Cold War that spawned the Space Race gets less than five minutes screen time. NASA engineers are hardly mentioned; one scene implies the astronauts themselves designed their spacecraft. One gets the sense that the Apollo program was created by astronauts, for astronauts, with little outside intervention.

The result is that it’s not entirely clear why we went to the moon, how it happened, or if it mattered. Shadow remains a middling film, one that offers cliches in place of insight.

*****

This review actually didn’t get run at all. It was cut to make room for some other guy’s reviews. These are what we refer to as “the breaks”. It happens, I guess.

For some reason, I appear to be the only person on Earth who didn’t like this movie. Right now it’s sitting at a cushy 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. I honestly can’t understand why this is. I love space exploration, I love the Apollo program. This movie isn’t a very good documentary about them. It’s dull, repetitive and filled with all the cliches we’ve seen a million times before.

What are it’s other problems? Here’s some stuff that never made the review:

-Neil Armstrong is the only major astronaut not interviewed. Everyone talks about him, but his absence is glaring. Of course, this isn’t the film’s fault, considering he’s become something of a recluse.

-To demonstrate how badly the film treats non-astronauts; there’s a part from the Apollo 11 landing where Buzz Aldrin violates procedure and leaves an instrument on when he was supposed to turn it off. As a result, the computer overloads and the whole thing nearly ends the landing attempt. Who gets the blame for this? The programmers, of course; Aldrin derides them for designing the program they were told was needed, and not adding a “Buzz Aldrin is going to start screwing with things” compensation factor. The movie seems to agree with Aldrin’s assessment too.

-One fantastic thing about the movie, though? Excerpts from Nixon’s never-delivered “man, we fucked up” speech. This was a special address prepared in case the moon landing failed and everyone died. It’s pretty neat from a historical perspective.

But enough of that for now. It’s time to give you a review for a good movie, and that movie is…

Radio Star

Radio Star is about a lot of things, and also about nothing. It follows Choi Gon, a faded Korean rock star reduced to DJing at a community radio station, but this is somewhat incidental to the point. At its core the story might be of Gon’s second chance at stardom, but he seems only marginally interested in it himself. Mainly the film just watches its characters as they get along, or fail to get along, in the world.

The film has a number of great moments, most of them included simply because they’re interesting. Community members, radio station politics, and a band called ‘East River’ all feature prominently, and the results are hilarious even though they don’t go anywhere. It’s like hearing funny stories from your friends; they’re funny because you know and care about the people involved.

Radio Star’s biggest strength is that we care so much about the characters. Choi Gon’s interactions with his manager drive the film; their lives, though fairly ordinary, are captivating. The film relies on it’s actors to make the mundane compelling, and they pull it off with flair. Radio Star is, if nothing else, a movie that makes you smile, and sometimes that’s all you really need.

*****

-Interesting fact; I went to see this movie because the one I originally intended to go to had sold out. My only other choices were Radio Star and ‘Mad Detective’, the violent tale of a… mad detective.

-Why did I choose Radio Star out of the two? Because I am a big fan of “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. This is, for the record, a terrible criteria for choosing a movie. But when the song actually started playing about 2/3’s of the way through the film, I knew I’d made the right choice.

-One of my notes (I took notes during the movies) reads “Alternate Title: Choi Gon Punches Everyone”. Gon spent the first part of the film pretty much punching whoever he liked. It was great.

-The next note reads “Choi Gon is a Dick”

-I didn’t realize this until I saw the movie, but apparently Koreans love Elvis. Throughout the movie he’s referenced many times as the biggest Rock Star ever, and people are always comparing Choi Gon to him. Considering we in North America mainly remember Elvis for his drug addiction and bizarre lifestyle, this reverence of him is very odd.

-The band I mentioned, “East River” is made up of a bunch of teenagers who worship Choi. Their antics provide some of the biggest laughs of the movie. They’re fantastic.

-You know those “interactions” I mentioned between Choi Gon and his manager, Park Ming-Su? They are filled to the brim with subtext and innuendo. They fight like an old married couple, and Park has cute/ridiculous ways of trying to help Choi through his troubles. Park is married, but hardly ever sees his wife because he’s always on the road with Choi… hmm, I wonder if something could be up?

-Later, when Choi’s radio show becomes popular, he’s going to be offered a chance at a comeback. However, the people planning this have to get Park out of the way first, and convince him to quit to avoid getting in the way of Choi’s new career. When Choi finds out Park is quitting, it plays out like the worst break-up ever; they yell about how long they’ve been together and who’s been taking advantage of who. Hmm.

-A bit later, Choi breaks down on air and begs Park to come back to him. This is a terrible break-up.

-A note I wrote early in the movie, when a female producer is assigned to the radio station, was “I hope this doesn’t involve the character’s finding love”. I later crossed this out and in put “never mind!” when I realized just who was finding love.

-It’s hilarious and adorable how Choi Gon and Park Ming-Su aren’t meant to be gay, but they act like they’re in a gay relationship anyway. They just have that special kind of friendship (speaking of which, I happen to know two people with that ‘special kind of friendship’…*coughjonandstephencough*). All of the scenes they have together are great.

You guys should all watch this movie. Seriously. It’s pretty fantastic.

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Entry filed under: review. Tags: , , , , , .

Day Four: Crap, I Missed It Day ?: Booster Gold Was Here

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. stephen  |  January 23, 2009 at 2:27 am

    I don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Reply

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