I’m down with the White Castle, don’t you doubt that for a second!
Only a trio of films this week,
Amreeka (2009, Cherien Dabis, Canada/United States Of America) ***
Nisreen Faour does give a strong performance as the lead, Muna. In reality, however, it is in the two side characters of Matt and Stan Novatski that the film explores new territory. It’s not that the rest of the film is bad by any means, it is highly enjoyable and well made. But, Matt and Stan represent something different in the foreign newcomer story, an opposition to the usual hatred. They are accepting, and we get to see why they are accepting. I enjoyed the interactions with those two characters the most, and that was when the film was at its best. The rest of Amreeka is fine, but it is a bit of, “been there, done that.” and that’s not true for the characters of Stan and Matt.
Carl Panzram: The Spirit Of Hatred And Revenge (2011, John Borowski, United States Of America) ***
Reenactments are a tricky matter when it comes to documentaries. There are, in my mind, two types of reenactments that can be found in documentaries. There are the ones that strive for a mix of realism and detachment, those are the ones that work. Then there are the ones that seek to emulate in a hollow and cheesy fashion. That latter describes the reenactments found in Carl Panzram: The Spirit Of Hatred And Revenge. It is in those reenactments that John Borowski’s film is at its absolute worst. It is in the sharing of historical information about the life of Carl Panzram that Mr. Borowski’s film is at its absolute best. Carl Panzram is an intriguing individual, and learning about him was a trip in the best possible way. The reenactments aren’t many, but when they do pop up they manage to knock the film down considerably. Still, Carl Panzram: The Spirit Of Hatred And Revenge is a decently made documentary about a fascinating individual, and it kept my attention throughout.
101 Dalmatians (1996, Stephen Herek, United States Of America) **1/2
101 Dalmatians doesn’t bother to distinguish itself from One Hundred And One Dalmatians in its first half. There are some minute changes, but nothing that takes away from the classically charming story of the original film. The animals in the film are cute, insanely cute at that. Glenn Close hams it up in fine fashion, while Jeff Daniels and Joely Richardson are sweetly charming in a very innocuous manner. The second half of 101 Dalmatians is a complete misfire as the film desperately tries to distinguish itself from the animated original. It does this by resorting to unfunny gags, bad jokes, and action that I never bought. The first half of 101 Dalmatians is charming, the second half is boorish, and the film as a whole is a letdown.
It wasn’t a bad week for movies, but it wasn’t exactly the hottest of weeks either. That being said, the surprisingly touching and well made Amreeka takes home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!