Worth It: 'The Chronicles of Narnia'

Daniel Holloway, a film critic for Metro Newspapers and a staff writer for US Weekly, discusses this weekend's movie releases.

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RACHEL MARTIN, host:

It's Friday, folks. We're happy. That means movies. And in our world, that means only one thing, one man, his name is Daniel Holloway. He reviews films for Metro Newspapers, and every Friday, he joins us to talk about what's new at our local cineplex. Two films out this week, one big-name, summertime adventure film, and one semi-obscure, cerebral Norwegian flick. We at the BPP tackle both, because that's who we are, that's what we do. Hey, Daniel.

DANIEL HOLLOWAY: Hey, Rachel.

MARTIN: What's going on?

HOLLOWAY: Not much. I actually couldn't come in today, because I was at a midnight screening of "Prince Caspian" last night.

MARTIN: Because that's how seriously you take your work, Daniel.

HOLLOWAY: Yep. And you know, I'm just an insomniac anyway.

MARTIN: Oh!

MIKE PESCA, host:

Were you surrounded by screaming kids who couldn't wait for the Friday opening? Or I guess that's the first version of a Friday opening.

HOLLOWAY: Yeah. I was surprised that there was about 10 people in the midnight opening with me. So I don't know - my wife included, so I don't know how that bodes for "Narnia" at the box office, but that's not what we're here to talk about.

MARTIN: No. And we are going to talk because Mike's also seen the film. Haven't you seen the film, "Caspian"?

PESCA: I have seen the film.

MARTIN: We're going to talk about all this. But before we do, before we go to the big film, we want to start small, and work our way out. So we're going to start first with this Norwegian film called "Reprise." This is a relatively small film by director Joachim Trier. I'm saying his name - it's probably pronounced something completely differently in Norwegian. But - so I understand it, Daniel, that the structure of this movie is a little bit complicated. So, before we get any further, can you summarize the plot of this film for us?

HOLLOWAY: The plot of the film is, you're dealing with two 23-year-old, very good, very high-minded, young literary stars named Philip and Eric. The movie opens with a sort of montage-y, jump-cutting scene with a lot of narration, talking about the path that Philip and Eric would have taken, as you see them both sticking their manuscripts in the mailbox, both had been accepted and published, how they would become stars, how their lives would have been, and what paths would have crossed over the years, and after about five minutes of this, you see that this is not the case.

One manuscript was accepted, one was not, and then you - what you get after that is that despite some pretty interesting techniques used by Trier, it is, at its core, a very normal coming-of-age film, about 23-year-old young men trying to find their way in the world. One of them starts off less successful, and becomes more so, and the other one becomes - starts off very successful, and becomes less so.

MARTIN: Well, we have a couple of clips here. Part of this film is about boy culture. This is what Trier has said he wanted to write about. Kind of akin to what Sophia Coppola did for girl - girl culture, excuse me, in "The Virgin Suicides." And in the clip we are going to hear now, this is a part where this guy is explaining to his friend why he should ditch his girlfriend. Let's hear - this is subtitled, by the way, or narrated, rather, by the BPP Players, because after all, the film is in Norwegian. Let's listen.

(Soundbite of movie "Reprise")

Unidentified Actor #1: (Through Dan Pashman as translator) Guys in long-term relationships become so lame. They get sucked into this feminine sphere of TV series and nice dinners. They get less and less time to read, and listen to music. Eventually, they don't even miss it. They end up as under-stimulated bourgeois retards.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: And then as you say a lot of this film is based on these hypotheticals. You're not quite sure what's going on, what's real, what's not, and the narrator kind of provides the glue in this. Let's listen.

(Soundbite of movie "Reprise")

Unidentified Actor #2: (Through Ian Chillag as translator) If you broke up now, Lillian would think it's because of the novel. You'd be a phony who dumps girls once he succeeds. She'd think she wasn't good enough for him, which wasn't entirely true.

PESCA: I think the translation's wrong, because that guy was whispering in the movie.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Daniel, does this get confusing, all these would of, could of, should of things?

HOLLOWAY: No, actually it doesn't. I think the best way to watch this film, is to sort of sit back, and not try to decipher what Trier is doing, but to accept everything that he's throwing at you, the various paths that these characters might be taking, at service value and then what you find is a movie, as you heard there in that wonderful performance, by the BPP Players.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HOLLOWAY: It's a movie about guys, you know, who are being a little too macho, and being a little too insecure and...

MARTIN: But you liked it?

HOLLOWAY: I did like it, yeah. I did like it quite a bit, and I think it's, you know, it's Norwegian and its obscure, but I think it's a movie that if American audiences find, that they're going to rather like it.

MARTIN: I want to move now because we don't have a whole lot of time, and you went through all the effort to see it, "Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," this is, of course, the latest in the adaptation of the C. S. Lewis novels, beloved by many children and adults alike. So what do you think about this movie?

HOLLOWAY: I thought it was a good sign when I was walking out of the movie, that the things I had to complain about, were all micro things rather than macro things. As a whole, it works rather well as a children's adventure film, as we have seen a lot of them in the last few years with, you know, "Harry Potter" and "The Golden Compass," and any number of other movies, but...

MARTIN: Do you think it's as good as those?

HOLLOWAY: No, well I think - I don't think it's quite as...

MARTIN: I'm just skeptical.

HOLLOWAY: Good as Potter, but I think it's better than most of the other ones that we've seen.

PESCA: I think it was better - I thought it was better than early Potter and I think - what do you think - I think it might have been better than the first one, just in terms of good battle sequences, but though I've heard maybe it's more for the boys.

HOLLOWAY: I think you're right about that. Part of the reason I believe that is, is because you're not having to set up the machinery, the way that you are in the first one. They get thrown right into the soup. They're pretty much running around shooting arrows, and swinging swords...

MARTIN: They assume you know that they live this dual life, and they go to this fantasy world, and go back again and everyone's on board.

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, they're English kids living in the Blitz to kind of travel back and forth between their dreary, blitzy English lives and Narnia, this fantasy realm where they are kings and queens.

MARTIN: I mean, it's a no brainer, really. I'd rather live in Narnia than war-torn Europe any day.

HOLLOWAY: But that's where all the allegory comes in about fantasy, and being young and grown up, and you know, the real world, or the fake world, or yada, yada, yada, which is all besides the point. Really, you go to see some sword fighting and some arrow shooting.

MARTIN: And it does a good job at that. Hey, Daniel, thanks for going to that movie. We appreciate it. Daniel Holloway reviews movies for Metro Newspapers, and for us here at the BPP. Thanks, Dan.

HOLLOWAY: Thanks, guys.

MARTIN: Have a good weekend.

HOLLOWAY: You, too.

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