Be Kind, Rewind

Year: 2008
Production Co: Partizan
Director: Michel Gondry
Writer: Michel Gondry
Cast: Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, Melonie Diaz, Sigourney Weaver
Michel Gondry movies are always cause for excitement. Less so than when he isn't backed up by early muse Charlie Kaufman, but since the critical praise for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was heaped on the writer Gondry seems determined not to reteam with Kaufman but to make his own mark.

This effort is nowhere near the searing heights of Eternal Sunshine but it's much better than the uninteresting, gimmicky Science of Sleep.

Jack Black and Mos Def are two less than intelligent friends who live in a Brooklyn-esque neighbourhood in New Jersey. Jerry (Black) is a mechanic living in a caravan beside the power plant, and Mike (Def) helps his erstwhile father Mr Fletcher (Glover) run his old-time video store.

When Jerry becomes magnetised during an abortive attempt to sabotage the power plant, and unwittingly wipes every video in the store, it's a fairly contrived set up to deliver the premise; the pair grab an ancient video camera and recreate the highlights of all the movies formerly available in the store, bringing not just the story but Gondry's visuals to life.

The plot leads them to a battle-for-the-old-ways-like resolution where they have to fight to stay open, screen their final film and win the day, and the final scene of the crowds standing around watching the film appears to be Gondry's thesis; a Cinema Paradiso -like love letter to the cultural institution of watching a movie with a bunch of strangers.

It's funny, sweet and good-natured. At times it seems the movie doesn't know what it wants to be, but that could just be Gondry's avoiding the plain emotional markers and familiar milestones of characterisation we're used to in a studio movie.

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