Saturday, September 21, 2002

Review – Anima

There are all kinds of different movies about Nazis. The two sub-genres that concern us here are Spooky Nazis and Sentimental Holocaust Nazis. With promises of mummies, evil taxidermy and the like, the box made this one sound like a member of the former group. Instead, it’s even more firmly anchored in the latter than the likes of The Music Box. Our protagonists are a couple of postwar refugees trying to live out their remaining years in quiet, rural seclusion. Unfortunately for their quaint, blissful lives, a video producer discovers that the old man is either a Nazi war criminal, an expert in a lost form of taxidermy, or both. Once I figured out what I was getting, it was easier to meet the film-makers on their own terms and enjoy their efforts as best I could. However, when I watched it I really wasn’t in the mood for an extended parade of artifice, go-nowhere subplots, bathos, bathos and more bathos. Maybe on another night I’d have formed a higher opinion of it. Mildly amusing

Review – Death to Smoochy

Though this Danny DeVito production isn’t quite as clever as it wants to be, it’s still an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. Edward Norton plays a do-gooding, guitar-strumming crusader in a pink rhino suit who gets hired by a kid-oriented TV network to host a Barney-ish variety show (wow, is that enough hyphens in one sentence?). Though the execs hire him specifically because he lacks the legal, ethical and moral woes of his predecessor (Robin Williams), our hero’s efforts to do the right thing at every turn soon put him at odds with the money men and a Mafia-esque charitable organization. With the mob and the disgruntled ex-host trying to do him in, our hero muddles on to save the day and get the girl. Clever allusions to other classic movies include the distinct flavor of Comfort and Joy in a couple of scenes and a sequence toward the end that must be a conscious tribute to The Manchurian Candidate. The only drawback here is that sometimes the film-makers strive so hard for quirkiness and irony that all they end up with is silliness. However, such moments are relatively few and concentrated mostly toward the end. Worth seeing