After my five most overrated last week, it only makes sense to print my most underrated this week.
28 Weeks Later – Well reviewed, but somewhat lost in the year-end shuffle of films this year has been the sequel to 28 Days Later, a film proving enormously influential, as proven by this weekend’s box office success of I Am Legend. The modern zombie movie is powerful War on Terror metaphor, and this film’s leaps from reality should be viewed as nightmare logic and judged for their metaphorical power. Weeks is most profitably viewed as an answer to last year’s Children of Men, The two films have the same basic idea, but Weeks takes a more cynical, and perhaps more realistic view of childhood, with the youth seen as the carrier of the disease (metaphorically, cultural hatred) rather than the cure.
Bridge to Terebithia – I’m not a big children’s movie fan, but this classic child lit tearjerker had me weeping just a bit. A great supporting performance from Robert Patrick, the T-1000 turns tough but loving farm dad.
The Invasion – This much-delayed, much-maligned, much-fiddled-with late summer release arrived with the indignity of re-shoots and a pounding from critics. But while some viewed it as an update of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it’s more of a weird ode to Stanley Kubrick, particularly to A Clockwork Orange. With the First Lady of Scientology, Nicole Kidman, presiding as a psychiatrist, The Invasion quietly explores a Kubrick-ian subject – the conflict of human instincts, even the worst ones, in the interest of society. During one tense dinner scene, it does something audaciously daft by making the breakout of world peace seem alien. A film for the Age of Ritalin, and a deeply flawed masterwork.
The Namesake – I didn’t think this film was underrated until I started seeing how absent it has been from year-end lists. But who knew. Great performances from Irfan Khan and Tabu as the Indian couple moving to the United States. A truly touching portrait of the baffling contradictions of my country.
Ocean’s 13 – I had the considerable good fortune to re-watch the John Boorman-Lee Marvin masterpiece Point Blank a few weeks before watching the third movie in the. Stephen Soderbergh assisted in the DVD commentary, so I was in the right frame of mind to appreciate this film on another level. Soderbergh borrows a basic conflict – a master criminal from a different age comes up against the modern world. In fact, George Clooney’s nostalgic little speech in front of one mega-hotel’s fountains is a bit of soul in the midst of all the splash. A fun movie on top of that, but with a bit of a weak ending.