A Forward Look at the Academy Awards
RACHEL MARTIN, host:
So we're heading into the last weekend in February, which means it's still cold outside. But it also means the long drought of quality movies might be coming to an end. And just in time for the big show. That's right, the Oscars, finally coming along to wipe 2007 from the nation's collective movie screen.
And while it may be hard to ignore the impending showdown between "No Country for Old Men", "There Will Be Blood", or the one between "Away From Her's" Julie Christie or "Juno's" Ellen Page, we actually have some new movie to talk about this weekend, right, Daniel?
Mr. DANIEL HOLLOWAY (Movie Critic, Metro Newspapers): Oh, yeah.
MARTIN: Daniel Holloway, movie critic for Metro Newspapers is on the line, as he often is.
Daniel, let's start with "Be Kind, Rewind."
Mr. HOLLOWAY: Thankfully, yes.
MARTIN: Thankfully. We're starting out easy. I know you kind of like this one. From the very creative mind of Michel Gondry, who we all remember, maybe not all of us, directed "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." This one has another kind of creative bizarre premise.
Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah.
Mr. HOLLOWAY: Well, unfortunately, Gondry also directed "The Science of Sleep," which was not...
MARTIN: I didn't see that. Was that...
Mr. HOLLOWAY: ...really well-received.
Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah. A little bit of a stuffy film. This - with this he's going in a much more accessible direction but still keeping that Michel Gondry -interesting might be the only way to describe it - approach to putting together a movie.
The premise is that Mos Def plays Mike, a Passaic, New Jersey, native who works in a video store. His friend, Jerry, is played by Jack Black. And through a, sort of, freak accident, Jerry becomes magnetized and erases all of the video tapes in the video store.
This happens at the same time that we're establishing my favorite screen comedy premise of all time, which is you have to raise X amount of money by X date in order to save X thing. And in this case, they have to raise money to save the building that the video store is in from being condemned so that high-end condos can be put in its place.
They begin making their own remakes of films like "Ghostbusters," "Men in Black," "Rush Hour II"...
MARTIN: We should also say that the store only stocks VHS tapes, right?
Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yes. They do not - they have not made the transition over to DVD. So there's a little bit of a, sort of, you know, push-pull between yesterday and tomorrow, as far as technology going on. It's a sort of a "All the Pretty Horses" kind of thing.
MARTIN: Let's listen to a little bit of this.
(Soundbite of movie, "Be Kind, Rewind")
Mr. MOS DEF (as Mike): Look, look, all of the tapes are like this. All the tapes. I've tried every tape...
Mr. JACK BLACK (as Jerry): Relax, it's the TV, Mike. The TV is malfunctioning. It's not all the video tapes.
Mr. DEF: Well, show me what it's doing.
Mr. BLACK: Think about it.
Mr. DEF: Show me how - what was that? Maybe that's the picture coming back. Wait du - what was that? Why is it doing that?
(Soundbite of electronic noise)
Mr. BLACK: Does that happen when you do it?
Mr. DEF: No, it hasn't done that at all. Wow. What is that? Why is it doing that when you do that? What is wrong with you? You're magnetized. You, you erased these tapes. It's you.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MARTIN: That cracks me up. That's Mos Def and Jack Black discovering that Jack Black is apparently magnetized.
Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah, in that scene he's actually holding Jack Black's head in both hands and rubbing it up against the television.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. HOLLOWAY: You've got to love Mos Def. I mean, the guy is just...if you saw Dave Chappelle's "Block Party" movie...
Mr. HOLLOWAY: ...he was just, you know. He's a really funny guy, and this is a great part for him. He plays this extraordinarily earnest character. And the nice thing about this film is that you're dealing with working class people, Danny Glover and Mia Farrow are also in the film. The film is worth seeing just so that you can see the two of them reenact "Driving Miss Daisy."
MARTIN: It sounds worth it.
Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah.
MARTIN: Okay. Let's move on to "Charlie Bartlett." This is a film that's getting a lot of buzz. It's about one of those self-possessed obsessed kids that you kind of only see in movies. This guy is the smartest kid in school, but he can't stop getting in trouble. Robert Downey, Jr. is the principal at his school.
And let's play a little bit - this is a scene where the title character, Charlie, is holding these makeshift therapy sessions in the boy's bathroom at the public school. He's in one stall, a parade of self-conscious fellow students are across the metal divide. Let's listen.
(Soundbite of movie, "Charlie Bartlett")
Unidentified Man #1 (Character in Movie): I can't handle this place.
Mr. ANTON YELCHIN (As Charlie Bartlett): Well, duh, dude, this place sucks. I just worry that one day we're going to look back at high school and wish we'd done something different, so maybe you should...
Unidentified Woman (Character in Movie): Get breast implants. I mean, a lot of my friends are getting them.
Mr. YELCHIN: Well, that's up to you. But speaking as a guy, it's kind of a turn-off when a girl isn't cool as being herself.
Unidentified Man #2 (Character in Movie): I'm not saying that I'm gay. What if, you know, I'm not attracted to girls? It sucks, man.
Mr. YELCHIN: Well, at least you're attracted to somebody.
MARTIN: What do you think?
Mr. HOLLOWAY: This is a poor little genius film.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. HOLLOWAY: Which could get a little annoying sometimes. What this movie actually is, is if you took the third act of "Rushmore," which is now 10 years old, which is really depressing for those of us who remember that movie fondly, if you take it from the point where Max Fischer enters public high school...
Mr. HOLLOWAY: ...and you just made a movie about that. I mean, there are things in this film that are straight uplifted out of "Rushmore." He shows up on the first day of school wearing his preparation school uniform. The movie ends with a bizarre sort of stage play. And, you know, it's really just taking that movie and expanding it into a whole film, and doing kind of a not-so-good job of it.
Robert Downey Jr. is in the film. He does a good job as a sort of alcoholic principal. But I have to say that Anton Yelchin, who plays the lead here, and also played in a movie that was pretty forgettable, a few months ago, called "Fierce People." He's a 19-year-old kid so you don't want to rag on him too hard. But this movie is getting a lot of buzz, and I honestly don't see why, because Yelchin's screen presence is one of the most annoying that I've come across in the past year.
MARTIN: That you have it, Daniel Holloway. One more movie opening up this weekend, though, it's actually nominated for an Oscar. Tell us about "The Counterfeiters."
Mr. HOLLOWAY: "The Counterfeiters" is the true story of Salomon Sorowitsch who was held in several Nazi concentration camps. In 1944, he was transferred to Sachsenhausen. And he was the king of counterfeiters. He was arrested trying to counterfeit the dollar in 1936, I believe. In '44, he gets moved to Sachsenhausen and put in charge of the largest counterfeiting effort in history. The German government was attempting to destabilize both the pound and the dollar, and used Sorowitsch and several other prisoners to run a large counterfeiting shop.
They're successful in both efforts. They crank out, I'm not quite sure, I believe $130 million pounds worth of English notes. They then go to the dollar, but through efforts of sabotage manage not to crank out too many dollars because they realize that what they're doing is actually funding the German war effort...
Mr. HOLLOWAY: ...because they realize that the Nazis are bankrupt.
MARTIN: An interesting story.
Mr. HOLLOWAY: An extraordinary film.
MARTIN: Finally - I can't let you go. Real quick, who's going to win Sunday night, best film?
Mr. HOLLOWAY: Best?
MARTIN: Seven seconds.
Mr. HOLLOWAY: "There Will Be Blood" best film, Cohen Brothers get best director.
MARTIN: There you go. That's why you're a pro. Daniel Holloway, friend of the BPP, movie critic, thanks so much.
Mr. HOLLOWAY: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.