O Movies You May Have Missed column, how I have neglected you.
This column has been MIA for a few weeks, but here’s a passel of recent DVD releases of movies that may have bypassed your local multiplex including those coming this Tuesday.
Coming April 5
I.O.U.S.A. *** 1/2
From the director of Wordplay, this documentary is a sobering bipartisan look at the national debt and how badly screwed the United States is economically. Unfortunately, it came out a bit before the economy really fell off the table and attention turned toward stimulation and away from deficit reduction. Nevertheless, this just means that even if the economy takes off, the problem is just going to be worse than it was before. Rather than point fingers and lay blame, I.O.U.S.A. seeks to illuminate the problem and offer solutions. Intended to be digestible by regular people who are not economics majors, it succeeds at the former but I found it fell a little short of the latter. It’s still worth seeing.
Donkey Punch ***
A gritty, low-budget genre thriller about a group of horny British girls on holiday who hook up with a group of horny British boys who just happen to be crewing a multi-million dollar yacht while the owners are away. What starts out as a sex and drug fueled cruise turns ugly when a tragic accident ignites a boy-vs-girl fight for survival in the middle of the Mediterranean. Up to a point, this is a reasonably entertaining little exploitation thriller with a Dead Calm vibe, but it eventually goes a little goofy trying to deliver the money shot for the gore crowd. It’s not a great movie, but it’s worth seeing for those who go for this kind of thing.
Released March 29
Tell No One *** 1/2
I might like this terrific French mystery thriller even better now than when I first saw it. Taking the familiar Man-suspected-of-murdering-his-wife plot, Guillaume Canet takes a decidedly European approach by focusing on the characters and their emotions. The ending doesn’t quite live up to the strength of the story that comes before it, but it’s still recommended. Check out the LiC review here.
Timecrimes *** 1/2
Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo’s economical sci-fi thriller is better if you don’t really know anything about it so I’ll spare you the synopsis in the hope you’ll see it anyway. The pleasure comes as twist follows upon twist and a thoroughly ordinary everyman is plunged into an increasingly bizarre sequence of events centering on a mysterious laboratory in the woods. The ending doesn’t completely satisfy keeping this one from being a minor classic, but it’s a lot of fun getting there. Here is the LiC review.
Released March 8
Let the Right One In. *** 1/2
Co-opted by the Internet fanboy crowd as the Swedish vampire flick, cult favorite Let the Right One In is decidedly more than that. Emphasizing character and mood over shocks, Tomas Alfredson’s film is more concerned with the feelings of alienation and love as experienced by the young protagonists central to the story. Unfortunately, again thanks to the fanboy crowd, the DVD release has been controversial. Using several screen shots to illustrate, the folks at Icons of Fright noted some of the stilted translations used for the official DVD release compared to those originally used for the DVD press screener. It’s true, the examples are blunter and altogether less elegant, but not speaking Swedish it’s difficult for me to say which one is more accurate.
The fact is, any subtitle translation is a necessary bastardization of the original language. The eye reads dialogue slower than the ear hears it so information is always truncated in some way. The result is a loss of nuance and in many cases, meaning. It’s important to remember that there’s an art to subtitling that is usually dependent upon the interpretation of a technician several steps removed from the artists responsible for making the film. If you’re reading a movie, you’re simply not seeing the same movie as native speakers no matter how skilled the subtitling.
That’s not to say the Internet outcry regarding Let the Right One In is wrong. I don’t know, I haven’t seen the new release of the film. Either way, the good news is that Magnet has listened and once current stocks run out they’ll be releasing the film using the subtitles from the original theatrical presentation. Packaging for this version will be marked “Subtitles: English (Theatrical).”
My take? If you’ve already seen the movie and want to own it, wait for the reissue. However, if you’ve never seen it and just plan on renting it, don’t worry about the subtitles. The film is so much more than the relatively sparse dialogue anyway. Read the LiC review here then go forth in peace and enjoy.