Film Reviews

Thomas Doret and Cécile De France in The Kid with a Bike

Folks, I’m here to tell you we have it good. So good I can’t just devote this space to one film this week. Skipping over the usual buffet of blockbusters, you can make a case that Honolulu, when it comes to the selection and ticket availability of movies, is on a par with Hollywood or Manhattan. Maybe even better.

This Is Not a Film: Under house arrest in Iran, director Jafar Panahi finally turned his circumstances into art–shot partially on an iPhone–and smuggled the result out in a cake. The reviews have been spectacular. Doris Duke, June 8, 6–9:30pm, reception and speakers.

The Kid with a Bike: The Cannes 2011 Grand Prix winner is reputed to be the most accessible film yet by the no-gimmicks Belgian brother filmmakers, the Dardennes. Often compared to Brit Ken Loach, their brand of social realism can feel less doctrinaire. Kahala Theatre.

Bernie: Jack Black inhabits one of more droll true-life murderers in recent history: a beloved, closeted, small-town funeral parlor proprietor who befriends and eventually kills “the meanest woman in Texas.” Kahala Theatre.

As a sign of how Hawaii’s diversity of audiences contributes to a much richer selection of movies, we also have several choices that may have strong appeal, even if the films themselves exhibit more heart than polish:

Crooked Arrows: A Native American team enters a prep school lacrosse tournament–confronting the appropriation of a sport they invented by the, ahem, Mitt Romneys of this world. Dole Cannery, Pearlridge West 16.

The Manzanar Fishing Club: director-producer Cory Shozaki and writer spent six years and taped 70 hours of interviews to tell this story of how a band of Japanese internees at California’s Manzanar Camp played a cat-and-mouse game with guards to sneak under the barbed wire and cast for rainbows. Kahala Theatre, starts Friday.

This week we also have what amounts to a mini-Christian film fest, first with For Greater Glory in fairly wide release (Dole Cannery, Pearlridge West, Koko Marina). About a Catholic peasant revolt against Mexico’s revolutionary government’s ban of the church, the movie already faced long odds in unseating Graham Greene’s novel about the same period, The Power and the Glory, or its film adaptation by John Ford with Henry Fonda, The Fugitive. But the would-be 143-minute epic pivots around two main characters, the unreligious General Velarde (Andy Garcia) and his hot-but-devout wife, played by Eva Longoria, whose motivations are, ironically, pure Hollywood–and thus unfaithful to the Cristero War’s legacy.

The second film, Hardflip, is the second in a month to use skateboarding as a plot vehicle–see our May 2, 2012, review of local Chuck Mitsui’s superior One Kine Day–perhaps indicating that a moratorium should be called on the genre. Mitsui’s small-scale moral tale kept it real, while this one involves sick skating, a very sick Mom, a boy’s search for his deadbeat Dad and a crazy preacher who Gets The Word Across. I don’t know about you, but for me message films cached in popular teen enthusiasms are like candy cigarettes. Besides, Father’s Day is just around the corner, for Heaven’s sake! Dole Cannery.

To return to my claim ofHonolulu as filmgoer’s Mecca: : While living in Southern California and Manhattan, I saw the great palaces and art houses close down and the chains move in. New York got crappy 9-plexes the size of a Metro-North rail car. SoCal,a hundred theatres all showing the same six films. Both places have improved, but for now, for my money, Honolulu’s the place.