More than a harmless piffle, this Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg comedy was replete with cute moments and laugh-out-loud jokes. I know, because I was the only one in the theater. (Several days later I watched Caddyshack via Netflix. By comparison, that movie was stupid – the Rodney Dangerfield character embarrassing. I didn’t cringe once at The Other Guys.)
A very disappointing documentary about a Marine outpost called ‘Restrepo’ in remote Afghanistan. It had none of the characters, none of the action, none of the suspense, none of the message of Matterhorn, the book about a Marine company in Vietnam that Siri and I had both just finished reading. The use of talking heads filmed after-the-fact drained drama from the situation and, except for the lieutenant, I didn’t find the individuals interesting or terribly engaging. There was never any sense of whom the Marines were shooting at or the danger, undoubtedly real, that they were in. Symptomatic of the film’s emptiness was the name ‘Restrepo’ – given to the camp in honor of a fallen comrade, whom we saw only once, in a snapshot and who, consequently, meant nothing to us. If it hadn’t been for a postscript about the military’s abandoning this valley a year later, there would have been no point at all to the exercise.
A showcase, if not vanity project, for Patricia Clarkson, the movie stands or falls on how you view her character’s actions. We’re handicapped by not knowing much about where she comes from and what her husband is like, until it is too late. But existing in a kind of vacuum doesn’t excuse her blithe ignorance of her surroundings – walking into a men-only coffee shop, walking down the Cairo streets showing cleavage, hopping onto a bus to Gaza without guidance or help. I didn’t see Siddiq Ali’s lure as lover (but the women I was with did). So without a compelling romance or an understandable central character, all that was left was a formulaic travelogue, in which each scene was too obviously designed to show off a Cairo tourist attraction – mosque, felucca, souq, pyramids, etc. I’m only surprised they didn’t go to the Cairo Museum to see King Tut.
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