Each week, Past the Popcorn offers a thorough look at the latest round of films opening on big screens.
Topping the blockbuster-wannabe list this week is the Sex and the City film, which has been variously described as Satanic or an attempt to promote loose morals. Reviewer Mike Brunk simply notes that whatever the HBO series was, the film simply amplifies… and draws out to nearly two and a half hours. “If you’re a fan,” he says, “you’re going to see this movie no matter what I say. If you’re not a fan, this review isn’t going to change your mind.” He also notes that the film won’t make you one, either. The film, he writes, “is basically a really long movie about nothing much at all—the cinematic equivalent, perhaps, of a lightweight romance novel sponsored by Louis Vuitton, Vera Wang, and Mercedes Benz.” With occasional sex and nudity, including male genitalia.
Also in the R bin is Surfwise, a documentary about Dorian Paskowitz, a once-successful doctor who packed it all in for the sea and the surfboard… and raised nine kids in a 24-foot camper. “The lessons that the Paskowitz clan learn,” says Greg Wright, “are also extensible to any community that’s somewhat separatist. There are benefits to being called out… and there are dangers. Idealism doesn’t prepare you to live in the real world, and there are only so many walls you can hide behind, and for only so long.” The movies R rating comes from Dorian’s frank talk about sex, which Greg recommends you think of as part of anthropological study of a primitive tribe.
The Fall is also rated R, oddly enough. It’s a doggedly artful film that examines lost love, desperation, and the therapeutic power of storytelling. Like another film also out this week, the PG-13 India-based tragedy Before the Rains, its shortcoming is also its strength: an overwhelming visual style that renders storytelling almost pointless. Still, Greg Wright muses, what is the R rating “protecting our children from in this case? Art?”
Rounding out the R-rated lineup is The Strangers, which Jeff Walls compliments for at least being a good example of its genre. “I could not wait for this movie to end, and I mean that as a compliment,” he says with tongue in cheek. “I couldn’t wait for this movie to end so my pulse would return to normal, my heart would return to my chest where it belongs, and I could take a sip of my soda without the fear of choking on it and/or spraying it all over the back of the lady’s head in front of me.”