Notes from the back row 

Jack Black and John Rambo

And the January cinema doldrums roll on. I’m still in Indonesia where my buddies Dustin and Beau have found a kick-ass outdoor theatre where, if you’ve got about 12 bucks, you can rent the theatre, screen any movie you want, invite all kinds of people and basically have a movie party, with drinks and everything. We’re watching B-grade HorrorFest movies right now.

While we do that, dear readers, you finally get a break here at home because a new Jack Black flick is dropping Friday and, provided Village 8 brings it in, it should be a good time.

Be Kind Rewind is a title after any movie lover’s heart (unless you were born post-1990 and have never rented a videocassette and seen that smiling little sticker urging you to be a conscientious viewer and rewind your tapes). Written and directed by French genius/director Michel Gondry ( Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) Be Kind.. is about a regular guy (Jack Black) who, in trying to sabotage a power plant he blames for giving him headaches, accidentally magnetizes his brain so that when he later walks into his buddy’s (Mos Def) video store, he ruins all the tapes. In order to satisfy the store’s most loyal customer, an elderly woman who’s not all there, the duo decide to remake a string of classic films such as Ghostbusters, The Lion King, RoboCop and Driving Miss Daisy.   In the process they become celebrities in their neighbourhood and are praised for their innovations and directorial range. Then the FBI steps in…..

Why is this awesome? A) It’s a major movie that salutes and celebrates B-Grade shittiness. B) The movies within the movie provide plenty of opportunity for Black and Def to run free with improvisations and off-the-cuff comedy. C) Gondry is innovative and fun, he imbues the film with a quirky-yet-innocent humour and a real sense of love. Anyone who’s ever made a movie is gonna dig this, as will most people who’ve ever watched one.

On the other hand, if you’re not a fan of Jack Black I could see how you may think Be Kind Rewind is a one-trick flick and not funny at all. And it is only PG-13 (which usually suck) but remember School of Rock? That was a kid’s movie and it was freakin’ awesome, thanks to Jack Black.

On the opposite end of the spectrum but still a bit comedic is Sly Stallone and his new (sort-of) movie, Rambo. It’s been 20 years since Rambo 3 and, fittingly, John Rambo has retired from the ass-kicking profession and now runs riverboat tours in Northern Thailand. Until a group of human rights missionaries go missing in nearby Burma and Rambo, in attempting to rescue them, gets involved in the world’s longest running civil war….

Stallone, who will be 62 this year, wrote and directed this flick and you know what? Good for him. Dude’s in his 60s, he just cleaned up last year as Rocky Balboa (which was pretty good and made decent money), might as well bring John Rambo back. While most senior citizens are shopping at Sears, getting free coffee at McDonald’s, and sending their grandchildren $12 for their birthdays John Rambo is single-handedly shitkicking an entire army. How can it not rule?

Stallone is reportedly eyeing up the Death Wish franchise as his next project. Awesome. Now if only Schwarzenegger would grow some balls and jump into another Conan movie then perhaps I’d actually feel like coming home from movie-paradise Indonesia.

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