Meet Dave
Tell No One” is the French adaptation of a Harlan Coben novel by the same name, where a pediatrician is suspected of killing his wife, but must run from the authorities so that he can somehow discover the identity of the true killer.  Yes, the plot sounds a little like “The Fugitive” meets O.J. Simpson, but the sharp turns are even more convoluted than that.  This film requires the close attention of the viewer, not only because of the English subtitles, but also because of the screenplay condensing the many events in the novel.  Following the easygoing opening at a family picnic, the rest is all grim and harried, and even the truth comes at great price.
            By contrast, “Meet Dave” is a silly comedy with a warm heart.  Eddie Murphy mugs his way through a bizarre plot.  He plays the captain of a spaceship of aliens, disguised as a human who looks like…Eddie Murphy in a “Loveboat” suit.  Their mission is to find a lost orb from their planet that, when activated, would suck up the earth’s oceans for the salt which the aliens need to survive on their planet.  But Dave and some of his fellow aliens start becoming enamored with the humans, and their feckless, emotional, irrational, unpredictable ways, and then must deal with the “hardliners” on their ship who want to carry out their original destructive mission.  So, in essence, Dave must decide whether to sacrifice himself and save the earth, or save himself and forsake the earthlings, a vaguely Christological dilemma that is probably more high-minded than ever intended.  “Meet Dave” is an excuse for lots of “discovery” humor, an attempt to take a fresh look at things we all take for granted, like salsa dancing, or handshakes, or figures of speech, or homeless people in the streets.  “Meet Dave” is, in its own clumsy way, a sort of celebration of all that is human, which makes it more of a family movie than advertised, and less of a comedy than it intends.
            Speaking of feckless, emotional, irrational, and unpredictable, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is Woody Allen’s latest foray into the unending complexities of adult romance.  Two American friends, Vicky and Cristina (Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson) decide to vacation to Barcelona , Spain , where they immediately meet a painter, Jose Antonio (Javier Bardem) who invites them both for a romantic weekend.  The sensible, engaged Vicky is incensed at his verve, but Cristina is intrigued, and the unlikely threesome gets even more complicated when the artist’s old girlfriend Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz) shows up.  With a Woody Allen film, you can count on intelligent dialogue and relational complexity, seasoned with a halting, almost stuttering demeanor.  You know that romantic relationships will weave a tangled web.  And, of course, there is always his homage to complicated, articulate, sensuous young women.  Vicky Cristina Barcelona” suffers from too much unnecessary overdubbing, but the flamenco guitar sound track is just right, the European setting is quaintly idyllic, and somehow we just enjoy watching all these beautiful people make a mess of their lives.
            Speaking of beautiful people making a mess of their lives, “Brideshead Revisited” is the newest adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s novel of British gentry in the 1930’s, self-indulgent nobility with too much money and too much time on their hands.  Manor-born Sebastian  (Ben Whishaw) brings his new boarding school chum, Charles (Matthew Goode) home to his stunning estate in the English countryside to meet Mum (Emma Thompson), and sister  Julia (Hayley Atwell).  Emotions are swirling, wine is too freely imbibed, advances are made and awakenings are explored, and even after that indolent summer in Brideshead, when everyone tries=2 0to get on with the next chapter in their lives, they can’t forget about each other.  As in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” previous commitments are thrown overboard with dizzying cavalierness.  Lavish costumes, elegant settings, breathtaking vistas, and handsome characters with all the morality of alley cats.
Questions For Discussion:
1)      What would you do if you were accused of a crime that you didn’t commit?  Would you trust the authorities to sort it all out and arrive at the truth, or would you want to launch your own investigation?
2)      What do you find most charming, and most irritating, about humans in general?
3)      What do you find most charming, and most irritating, about love relationships in particular?
4)      What do you find most charming, and most irritating, about stories of the rich, idle English gentry?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas