Friday, December 19, 2008

The Double Feature

"I don’t see how any review could really spoil what may be among the most transcendently, eye-poppingly, call-your-friend-ranting-in-the-middle-of-the-night-just-to-go-over-it-one-more-time crazily awful motion pictures ever made. I would tell you to go out and see it for yourself, but you might take that as a recommendation rather than a plea for corroboration. Did I really see what I thought I saw?

And I wish I could spell out just what that was, but you wouldn’t believe me, and the people at Sony might not invite me to any more screenings. So instead of spelling out what happens in 'Seven Pounds,' I’ll just pluck a few key words and phrases from my notes, and arrange them in the kind of artful disorder Mr. Muccino seems to favor (feel free to start crying any time):

Eggplant parmesan. Printing press. Lung. Bone marrow. Eye transplant. Rosario Dawson. Great Dane. Banana peel. Jellyfish,...Car accident. Congestive heart failure.

Huh? What the ... ? Hang on. What’s he doing? Why? Who does he think he is? Jesus! That last, by the way, is not an exclamation of shock but rather an answer to the preceding question, posed with reference to Mr. Smith. Lately he has taken so eagerly to roles predicated on heroism and world-saving self-sacrifice — see “I Am Legend” and “Hancock” — that you may wonder if he has a messiah clause in his contract. Which is not to say that he doesn’t show range in these films, in which he credibly plays a research scientist, a dissolute superhero and, in this latest one, an I.R.S. agent.

An I.R.S. agent who wants only to help people. This is a nice, small joke that provides a few grace notes of levity in what is otherwise a lugubrious exercise in spiritual bushwa. For all its pious, earnest air, 'Seven Pounds' cries out to be remade as an Asian horror movie, so that the deep, creepy grotesqueness of its governing premise might be allowed to flourish, rather than to fester beneath the surface.

As it is, the movie is basically an inverted, twisted tale of revenge."


-- A.O. Scott, glimpsing the evil behind NewAge cinema's message, in The New York Times.