Thursday, August 18, 2005

March of the Penguins

The makers of the French Documentary "March of the Penguins" should start practicing their own march along the red carpets of winter when the awards season kick-in because their movie, surely, should reap all possible awards there is out there for this genre.

Painstakingly filmed in the harshest region in the world, the movie is more than interesting it is involving. It is more than educational it is enlightening. It is more than entertainment it is serious filmmaking!

Delicately shot for nearly a year in below freezing temperatures of the Antarctic, the crew of Luc Jacquet filmed the Emperor Penguins on their annual trek across the continent to return to the place where they were born to participate in an age-old ritual of courtship and mating. In the process, the crew was able to document a peculiar role-reversal in parenting. After giving birth, the females leave her egg in the care of the male as she takes to the ocean to find food for the offspring when the egg hatches.

This movie has a very simple story to tell but the incredible images show otherwise. The perilous journeys the penguins take to secure their offspring are quite heartwarming and so is their dedication to one another as they struggle over their natural adversaries.

The care and commitment they show towards their chosen partners are remarkable. They remain monogamous for the entire season!

Many more observations and revelations can be gleaned from this marvelous film and I leave it to the viewer to discover them for themselves. This movie is a beauty. It is simple yet it invokes a very powerful theme, that of love, dedication, responsibility, family and the grand succession of generations. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

The Dukes of Hazzards

I thought watching the "Dukes of Hazzards" would be hazardous given the mostly negative reviews it is getting from critics.

Surprisingly, I was entertained out of my wits – to some extent, that is.

The cousins, Bo, Luke and Daisy try to prevent the corrupt Boss Hogg from converting their small lovely town of Hazzard into a mining site. That in essence is the plot, or for that matter the entire story.

However, the film still works because of the engaging performances turned in by the lead stars. Jessica Simpson’s acting debut is as revealing as the skimpy dresses she wears in the movie. She was good for the role and I enjoyed her performance. Johnny Knoxville is less obnoxious and offensive here than in his previous turns. Ditto with Sean William Scott.

I have no memories of the TV version of this movie so my judgment will be based on how I perceive it cinematically. I found myself, however, confused with the movie's setting. I thought it is set in modern times but the characters seem to act as if they were in the seventies.

For an afternoon without nothing much to do, this movie should be just good enough to while that boredom away but expect nothing much, although, the car chases are amazing and Daisy Duke’s apparel should cool you enough.

Must Love Dogs

In "Must Love Dogs" we are treated to a story of a divorcee as she reels through a life of solitary dinners and set-up dates.

Sarah Hurlihy (played thankfully by the lovely Diane Lane) is a preschool teacher whose recent divorce has sent her entire family on a mad dash to find her a new mate.

She resists the idea and nixes all the date offerings until she meets two men who are worlds apart but whose playful flirtation will push her back into the so-called wagon again.

The first man is his pupil’s promiscuous (which she purposely overlooks) dad and the other is a recent divorcè also who may have a lot more in common with her than she might think. Dermot Mulroney and John Cusack unconvincingly play these men respectively. They are miscast. It could have been the make-up design or lighting, but both men looked so old (much older than I would think their characters ages were). Should I add that their performances border on boredom?

The story has the cutesy feel to it but it fails to elicit anything at all. The pace is slow and scenes are almost repetitive. Even Lane’s performance, although effective and likable, didn’t help at all. Too bad because the trailer was good and I came to the theater expecting to be entertained.

As much as I’d like not to quote a recent review I read about this movie, I just can’t help myself. In that review the writer eloquently wrote: "…must love dogs, must hate this movie…" Ouch!

Oh, there is, however, one scene I enjoyed and gave me reason to stay on until the credits have rolled. During one of the school activities (presumably to establish Lane’s character as a teacher) a dance, very similar to our local Tinikling, was being performed complete with the bamboo poles and the familiar music. Later, the credits called it the "Bamboo Dance." If only they made that dance longer, I would have been distracted some more and perhaps may have made me rethink about this insipid formula. - entertainment