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Notes From the Back Row

Adventures in speed

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Two new flicks at the Village 8 this week and first up is Adventureland , the next film from Greg Mottola ( Superbad). Jesse Eisenberg does his version of the uncertain hero type as college graduate James, an overly honest, virginal, Pittsburgh theme park employee circa 1987 who's looking for love and an understanding of life.

Kristen Stewart ( Twilight) plays the troubled-youth love interest working a few booths over. She's also screwing around with the park's married handyman rocker-type played by Ryan Reynolds, whom Jesse confides in. The characters navigate their angst and mundane jobs, smoke pot, drink, and try to figure it all out.

Adventureland is not bad but its themes about the anxiety of facing adulthood, love, and getting laid are treated in a very familiar manner. While there are a few nut-punching jokes and some minor comedic roles by Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, it's really a just-higher-than-average teen drama - and are we really supposed to believe that a kid can do four years of American college and not get laid even once?

Rather than pure comedy Mottola instead delivers a sweet coming of age flick with a few funny moments, as if he's hoping Adventureland can sit next to Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club in your DVD collections.

On the other end of the spectrum, Fast and Furious , also opening, reunites the original cast for more over-the-top car chasing mayhem. It's been eight years since Vin Diesel and Paul Walker raced their way to box office success and both of those guys could use a career boost these days. Unfortunately, this might not be it. While the opening sequence is killer action-tastic, the film then dives into a solid twenty minutes of soap opera emoting to explain feelings and plot. Piss on that, I say, give us more cars. This movie is more like a well rendered video game you can't control but it has racing and explosions which is enough for some. And while some hardcore nudity would make Fast and Furious a lot better, you're shit out of luck - it's PG-13.

The DVD of the week is Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In, a creepy, wintry kid vampire movie set in late-cold war Sweden. Totally different from Hollywood fare, Let the Right One In is more drama than fright but you come out the end of it with a mix of joy and dread that sticks around for a few days.

Of course, Hollywood is watching and Matt Reeves ( Cloverfield) has signed on to remake the much-loved Swedish hit with a North American release scheduled for January 2010. Internet chatrooms are on fire and Alfredson himself has questioned the point behind remaking a movie that had nothing wrong with it the first time around. Since foreign films usually only play a few cities in North America and our audiences seem to have a real problem with subtitles (or subtext for that matter) these remakes are bound to happen.

Another remake original is the Spanish horror hit [REC•] , about a news team following some firemen on a routine call that turns into a nightmare. [REC•], like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield , is one of those shaky-cam hand-held movies that watches much better on the small screen. Cloverfield looked like a decently shot home movie gone wrong and [REC•], shot as a reality style news program, watches best on your laptop. It feels legit, like all the other times you watch news footage online . Quarantine , the American remake, is good too but the plot is more spelled out, the camera is jerkier, and the news reporter actress is nowhere near as good, or as hot as her Spanish counterpart.

 

 

 

 

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