New on DVD - 9/30/08
FTFR DVD Pick of the Week
You could call it an anti-war film, but I think that puts too neat a label on what it is trying to do. Beaufort is about the soldiers and the internal battles they fight that have nothing to do with guns or bombs. This is bold, powerful filmmaking about the bonds between soldiers and the challenges they face.
IRON MAN (***)
"Iron Man" may be a breezy, wildly entertaining superhero flick, but at its core is a very timely, post-9/11 revenge fantasy. For the film's first half, Iron Man is a one-man anti-terrorism unit before turning his sights on the ultimate villain for the strangely anti-climactic final battle, at which point the film loses some of its momentum.
Downey's performance is doubtless the highlight of the film, which he infuses with a wink of ironic humor that adds buoyancy to the movie's comic-book atmosphere. This is not a serious film by any means, but it has a kind of unifying theme (weapons are bad, but terrorism must be stopped) that will contribute to its massive universal appeal.
OSS 117 may be supremely silly, but it's the best kind of silliness. There is an intelligence at work behind the ridiculousness, and it makes for a highly enjoyable experience that doesn't feel as though it's playing to the lowest common denominator. It's a hilarious genre spoof that puts all the recent films in that subgenre to shame. It has intrigue, romance, action, and plenty of laughs to go around. This is skillfully executed comedic filmmaking that uses slapstick to its advantage along with witty repartee to make one zingy cocktail of a movie.
TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE (***½)
Taxi to the Dark Side is a an essential documentary, one that, while much more narrow in its focus than some other current war documentaries (like the searing No End in Sight), is still the kind of thing that demands to be seen and considered. As the Iraq war continues to lurch forward and America finds itself buried deeper and deeper in endless conflict, Gibney dares to ask the question that must be asked - when will all this end, and who will be the ones to stand up and say "enough?"