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Monthly Archives: July 2008

Cowards Bend the Knee (2004) - Im not even going to try to explain the plot.

"Cowards Bend the Knee" (2004) - I'm not even going to try to explain the plot.

Style is a wonderful thing, especially when you come across one that you can recognize as belonging to a particular director. What are movies by Federico Fellini, Preston Sturges, or Stanley Kubrick without the trademark styles of their directors?

But some directors, even the best, can go overboard with and depend too much on their style (think Tim Burton’s lesser films). Maybe I take Guy Maddin way too seriously, but “Cowards Bend the Knee” is nothing more than an overly silly exercise in style.

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penelope poster

"Penelope" (2008) - A modern-day fairy tale about a girl with a pig snout looking for love.

“Penelope” arrives on DVD Tuesday.

I’m a fan of magical realism, but I have a problem with the concept of a “modern-day fairy tale.” I believe the idea can be executed well, but the magical elements must be handled realistically. “Penelope,” the most recent example of the modern-day fairy tale, doesn’t work because the filmmakers don’t realize that even suspension of disbelief has its boundaries.

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"CJ7" (2008) - The lives of a poor father and his son in China improve when the father discovers a mysterious creature at a junkyard.

“CJ7” arrives on DVD August 12.

For entertainment value alone, I haven’t seen a better movie this year than “CJ7,” the new film from director/actor/co-writer Stephen Chow (“Shaolin Soccer,” “Kung Fu Hustle”). The movie isn’t some kind of revelation, though: one subplot could have been handled better, and from a technical level, the movie isn’t phenomenonal. But like the character of the father who finds shoes in the dumpster and improves them, Chow takes bits and pieces from different genres and styles to make what is, on the whole, a wonderful piece of work.

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