February 16th, 2005

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Hide and Seek" is NO "Godsend"

Remember when Robert DeNiro's name above the title
meant a cinematic event? In the last 5 years, DeNiro
has averaged 3 productions a year with diminishing
returns. DeNiro's most reliable films have been
comedies ("Meet the Fockers" and "Analyze This"),
but his most unintentionally laughs have come from his
horror movies.

"Godsend" started off with a unique idea about
domestic loss and cloning. The son of Greg Kinnear
and Rebecca Romijn dies in an accident. Dr. DeNiro
clones the boy. On the anniversary of the boy's
death, the boy starts having nightmares about either
himself or his clone. DeNiro is revealed not to be
the altruistic humanitarian. "Godsend" fails to live
up to profound ideas and climaxes with unmemorable
schlock.

"Hide and Seek" is better schlock and deals with
another domestic nightmare. Alison (Amy Irving) plays
hide and seek with her daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning)
before bedtime. Alison takes a pill with a glass of
wine and goes to bed. Her husband Dr. David Callaway
(Robert DeNiro) wakes up at 2:06 am and finds
Alison’s body in a bloody bathtub. Emily is
traumatized and the Callaways move to the country.
David and his daughter try to make a clean start with
their new lives. They meet friendly neighbors, but
Emily is too shy to open up. Emily does make friends
with Charley, an invisible friend. When things go
bump in the night, David suspects that Charley is no
longer an invisible friend. As life becomes more
violent for the Callaways, a mystery evolves from the
question of
"Whose Charley?"

When you have studied as many horror movies as I have,
you become numb. You can predict the fear technique
and you know when the boogeyman will strike. There
are only so many ways in which you can predict when
the knife will fall. The differences between "The
Sixth Sense" and "Hide and Seek" lies in the
cinematography execution and the emotional pay off.

Substituting Academy Award nominee actors and actress
is a poor excuse emotional connection, especially when
an 11-year-old actress steals the motion picture from
these bloated Oscar winners and losers. Wednesday,
February 23, 2005 will mark Dakota Fanning’s birthday
and this actress provides a mature performance with
emotional depth.

Then there is the emotionally less mature performance
of Robert DeNiro. If emotional shallow, Dr. David
Callaway is a likeable dweeb early in the movie.
However as the film progresses, DeNiro lose emotional
value and the performance bakes into a comic ham. Amy
Irving, Elisabeth Shue and Famke Janssen could all
take a course from the Linnea Quigley School of
Humorous Scream Queen Acting. These three actresses
seem only interested in hitting their marks.
Unintentionally, all the adult performances “Hide.”
Ticket buyers may not want to “Seek” this motion
picture out.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

A Thai film with a unique story = "Beautiful Boxer"

One of the most influential books for Hollywood
screenwriters is Professor Joseph Campbell's "The
Hero with a 1000 Faces." George Lucas often referred
to this book when he was creating his "Star Wars"
saga. Professor Campbell's thesis states that
regardless of different cultural influences, the story
of the hero was always the same. Frequently born in
poverty, the antagonist would go on a journey, learn
something important about them self and return to
their home. Once home, the hero would then use his now
found powers and become a community hero. Ulysses,
Frodo Baggins and Luke Skywalker all share this
similar pattern in their story.

"Beautiful Boxer" is a movie from Thailand.
"Beautiful Boxer" has much in common with the
American made "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" movies
because all these leading characters mask their secret
identity. Parinaya is a sensitive young child who is
taught by his parents to avoid violence. Parinaya's
parents work long hours for a laundry service. Like an
Irish Mother who sends one of their sons to seminary,
Parinaya's mother decides that her little guy needs
further education in a Buddhist commune.

Besides prayers and meditation rituals, Parinaya
learns that he has a talent for kickboxing. Among his
peers, Parinaya becomes the prodigy of his temple. As
he begins to gain national recognition, Parinaya
begins to feel uneasy. He is shy in the communal
bathing area and has problem sleeping when his male
colleagues are near. As Parinaya rises through the
ranks towards the kick boxing championship, he begins
to act more effeminate. Taking on the public name of
Nong Toom, Parinaya becomes a media sensation in Asia
and develops a large cult following.

Based on a true story, "Beautiful Boxer" features a
likable character whose motives are bigger than his
personal need. While his initial motivation is to
support his family, Parinaya personal struggle is
identity. Parinaya wants to raise enough money for a
sex change operation.

Given the subject matter, Director Ekachai Uekrongtham
needs to be commended for not creating a "Jerry
Springer" show rip off. The dramatic scenes are
handled with taste and dignity for all the characters.
Humor does arise from these situations. Rival kick
boxers provide peculiar reactions to battling this
girlie man. A mentor encourages Parinaya to obtain
waterproof make-up due to the heat and sweat of
battle. One rival attempts to out diva the diva. The
most brutal beating Nong Toom issues goes to a former
friend. These old friends become new rivals because
the old friend broke a moral code. The friend lied.
Despite the flamboyant Muhammad Ali showmanship, all
participants generally emphasize the respect for the
sport. The fight scenes in the ring are well done. In
fact, fans of "Rocky" and "Rambo" will appreciate
this manly art of self-defense. The avant-garde crowd
will appreciate the issues of sexual identity and
social norms. Either way, one will appreciate the
flamboyant visual perspective. One interesting
footnote, the real Parinya Charoenphol has a cameo
appearance as the facial masseuse in the beauty parlor
scene late in the movie.

While English subtitles are required given the
language barrier, "Beautiful Boxer" is an arresting
motion picture. The outdoor visuals enhance the
storyline. As Parinaya, actor Asanee Suwan gives a
universal and empathetic performance. There are many
cinematic elements that blend together that makes
"Beautiful Boxer" an entertaining two hours.