April 4th, 2003


The Sweet Hereafter

Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter is one of the few movies in existence that lives up to the book on which it is based. It doesn't have quite the nuance of the book (having much less artistic space to lay everything out), but in every way it lives up to it's namesake.

The two main characters in the movie are Mitchell Stevens and Nicole ?. A bus accident has taken the lives of many of a small town's school children. Mitchell Stevens is the lawyer using the townsfolk' grief and anger to drive a lawsuit against whatever deep pockets he can find. Nicole is one of the surviving children. She is paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. The movie examines the psyches of several other people involved as well.

Mitchell is driven by anger at it impotence in saving his daughter Zoe's life, and turns that anger to suing corporations on behalf of other angry people. Watch the deft way that he turns many to his side. Nicole is changed by the accident as well. Life at home is different afterward, and there is now a disconnect from her parents. She has become more independent in some ways while becoming more dependent physically. The other character I like was Billy Ansell, who followed the bus every day waving at his children. He got to witness his own children's death. He becomes extremely angry at those who have signed on to the lawsuit, figuring it will just drive the town apart, ruining it's spirit of leaning on each other.

There's not much of a plot to this movie. The movie is a study of characters. The meager plot revolves around the progress of the lawsuit, but the meat is in its effect on the participants.

Anyway, watch this movie. The acting is first rate, although none of the actors are well-known stars (this being a Canadian film and all). You'll recognize a few of them however. It's not a happy movie though. In some ways it is depressing and in others uplifting, but the overall tone is bleak.

5 stars.


Space Cowboys

A Clint Eastwood version of Armageddon that is almost as crappy. The only things better than Armageddon is that the actors aren't as annoying and the romance subplots are less obtrusive. Everything else is just as bad. Completely idiotic physics. Idiotic premise. In Armageddon the premise was a bunch of oil drillers were the only people qualified to drill a hole on an asteroid and plant a nuclear device to save the earth. In this version, the only people qualified are a bunch of astronaut rejects who became NASA scientists but are not long retired. They are the only ones qualified to repair a Russian satellite that used stolen U.S. designs. Even the ending is pretty much the same. And the camera work is just as bad, too jumpy to see what the hell is going on. Mostly I believe that's because the action can't sustain itself so the filmmaker used a jumpy camera to compensate.

1 star.