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                                                            Radio 04/18/08

 

            This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my commentary on some films now showing at The Majestic Theater in Greenville :

 

“Forbidden Kingdom” features two of the premier kung-fu stars of current cinema, Jet Li and Jackie Chan.   At least there’s a semblance of a plot around all the kickboxing sequences.  An American teenager from Boston , played by Michael Angarano, turns out to be the chosen one to return the magical staff to the legendary Monkey King.  Except that our All-American boy is completely unaware of his uniqueness, until he happens upon the staff in a pawn shop in Chinatown .  When he finds himself transported to China in a place where feudal warlords still fight with hand weapons, like Jedi knights, he trains to fulfill his destiny under the watchful tutelage of the silent monk (Li) and the drunken magician (Chan).  Sure, there’s a girl in there somewhere, and some mumbo-jumbo about a mystical king and queen who re-appear every 500 years or so whether they need to or not.  Despite all the fanciful antics, we root for this unlikely blend of Americana , martial arts, Chinese fable, artful cinematography, and a good, old-fashioned sense of humor.

 

“88 Minutes,” by contrast, is completely humorless, and for good reason.  A forensic psychiatrist, played by Al Pacino, seems to have his world imploding around him, as a serial killer he helped send to Death Row somehow allies with his young defense attorney, who then becomes Pacino’s student, the better to haunt him and cast suspicion around him.  Pacino is again typecast as the grizzled, overwrought intelligentsia, but, he does it so well.  The torture scenes are, well, tortuous, but you can get all wrapped up in who’s doing what to whom, despite the intermittent lame acting sequences.  Be prepared to suspect everybody.

 

“Stop/Loss” is the honest movie about our ground troops in Iraq that many folks don’t want to see because it’s, well, too intensely real.  Some American soldiers experience the horrors of house-to-house urban combat, then come home barely able to cope, so ready to get out, but are then told they have to go back, you know, because the military has to stop its loss of troops.  Gut-wrenching at many levels, but probably more important to watch than fanciful fiction.

 

This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93-5 KICK FM