Saturday, June 8, 2002

The Sum of All Fears (Phil Alden Robinson 2002) - This may be the first Hollywood film where a Russian president is a better man than the American, and an ex-KGB agent is the secret hero. Otherwise the weakest of the Jack Ryan films: the others hinge on moral issues--however convoluted--but this is strictly straight-forward save-the-world stuff where manly men do manly things. Interesting that chronologically this is the earliest Ryan film but otherwise it takes place clearly in 2002, well after the other three. This sort of mixed continuity drives comics fans nuts but nobody else will much care (though you do wonder about The Hunt for Red October: shouldn't the characters there have been saying, "Ryan? Aren't you the guy that saved the world from complete immolation?").


If the Atlanta Film Festival has never been a disgrace it's also never been of any serious interest. Badly selected and ineptly promoted, it's the kind of festival that's geared more towards promoting second-rate student films (OK, they're actually independent films and the filmmakers struggled and sacrified to make them: doesn't mean they deserve any support) than anything dedicated to film as an art form. Proof was their screening of Shock Corridor which was not a film print but only projected video, something barely mentioned on the schedule. I would have considered it unthinkable that any festival would even consider showing a film on video except in extreme cases such as a retrospective where a missing work would otherwise be unavailable, something that clearly didn't apply here.


Four Weddings and a Funeral (Mike Newell 1994) - For the first hour there's enough decent dialogue and pleasantly charming acting that you can dismiss the hints of cynical middlebrow-ism (such as showing exactly how we should feel about the singing duo) as mere bumps. But halfway through, the film collapses so utterly into cynically obvious genre moves that any brightness in the first hour comes to seem like the bumps.