Be Kind Rewind / Son of Rambow

Be Kind Rewind


(Michel Gondry, 2008)


Son of Rambow


(Garth Jennings, 2007)


Pairing movies together thematically because I’m so far behind in posting reviews.

Hey, we love movies. Let’s make our own!

I’ve been carried away by the whimsy of Michel Gondry in the past, but I still feel his best work has been in short-form, specifically in music videos and commercials. He became widely acclaimed for his 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where Jim Carrey, Tom Wilkinson and Kate Winslet were able to bring heart to the messy closet that is Gondry’s creative vision. In Be Kind Rewind, Gondry unfortunately gives the reins to two non-actors (Jack Black and Mos Def), who are thrilled to go for the wild ride, but unable to ground any of it in reality. What’s left is a lot of brilliant and creative ideas tacked together with an underwritten story and amateur performances from the professionals. However, the “Sweding” sequences, where Def and Black boil down popular movies to their core and refilm them guerrilla-style, are eye-popping and inspirational. So inspirational, in fact, that if you search for the term “Sweded” on YouTube, you’ll be treated to real-life individuals who’ve taken the movie’s message to heart. Influencing others to create is never a bad thing, so kudos to BKR, at least in that respect.

Son of Rambow takes a different approach. Two awkward English boys form a friendship while writing and creating their video response to 1982’s First Blood, the first Stallone/Rambo film. I looked up director Garth Jennings’ profile and sure enough, my hunch was right: we’re the same age, both born in 1972. I suspected this because my childhood was colored by the original First Blood much like the boys in the film. Cable was new in our neighborhood, as was VHS, and First Blood thrived on both, particularly among prepubescent boys. It was an adult movie, that explained to kids certain adult matters. Watching that movie felt like an elaborate game of cowboys and Indians, and it was my first exposure to the effect of the Vietnam War. Kids played Rambo for a couple of summers by hiking up their shirt sleeves, tying bandannas around their heads, and generally running wild, felling trees and scaring the elderly.

I know the friendship of boys playing war and the film captures it with ease. The two leads (Bill Milner, and especially Will Poulter) come off as genuine kids who desire to recapture Rambo in their own movie. Their friendship is tested when others get wind of the project and threaten to derail the whole matter, but essentially, the folly of movie-making boils down to the relationship that is born out of it. It’s sweet without being icky or sentimental, and it uses the device of mimicking art to reflect the impact of movies on our interpersonal relations.

One can’t help but wonder what the upcoming Fanboys will teach us about how Star Wars effected our view of international politics.


Posted on September 19, 2008, in Film log and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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