Saturday, April 25

Six Shooter's 'SPECIAL'

It's always a pleasure to discover a quality piece of independent cinema. There's just something infinitely more palatable about films that rely on content, creativity, and that most elusive intangible, charm. And while 'Special' might not grab you as a masterpiece of cinema, it certainly got these in spades- a well told story that reads on multiple levels.

The by-turns charming and stultifying Mark Rapaport stars as a comic book loving depressive who volunteers for an experimental drug designed to make its users 'feel better.' The side effects include, you guessed it... super powers. Well, not really. But HE thinks they're real, and in his blundering attempts to fight crime inadvertently draws heat from goons at the drug co. I guess a wigged out lunatic running around making the six o'clock news with your new psych-med's logo featured prominently on his 'super hero's outfit' is not good for business?

Relative newbys Hal Haberman and Jeremy Passmore deserve considerable credit not only for coming up with a slightly better-than-average plot device, but more importantly- for not totally biffing it up. What really makes the film work, in fact, is the constantly shifting perspective between objective reality and the subjective experience of our 'super-hero.' This disjunct becomes the film's central theme, a metaphor that reflects our own desire to be 'special.' Eventually, we want to believe his side of things. To indulge this very human urge, to be somehow be more than human.

Though I can't help but wonder how the film might have played without it's, a-hem.. star-power? M.Rapaport does a fine job, though he doesn't have the depth of acting that allows me to fully seperate him from previous roles. Especial his wonderful lead in 'Naked Man,' the similarly tripped-out comic-book-type tale (penned in part by Coen Bros. golden boy Ethan). A minor concern in a movie that grew on me as I watched it.

Wednesday, April 22

Guilty Pleasure...

Against all better judgment I started watching Cadfael... yes, the UK mystery series that I can best describe as CSI: King Arthur. A murder-solvin' God-fearin' Catholic monk kickin' it in Shrewsbury-- 12th century style.

Most anyone else in the store can point you to less embarrassing UK telly picks, but there's a certain pleasure in Cadfael. The acting is solid, and it doesn't fall into Xena-style action the way the recent Robin Hood series did. It's just a straight forward mystery show with a Benedictine twist.

Recommended for those who like Elder Scrolls, Agatha Christie, and swords.