PG-13, for avoided language. I think it is because there is the mildest sexual innuendo in the movie. The movie is targeted at adults, so ultimately, the MPAA rated it as "a movie that adults would enjoy." I was surprised by how innocent this movie was overall. There's a little mild references to racism, but it is done in such an absurd way that there isn't anything really hateful behind it. An odd PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Michel Gondry
I really and truly thought that I wrote an article on Be Kind Rewind. I have a vivid memory of having seen this in the past four years, since I've started this blog. Maybe time is just slipping away from me and I can't tell the difference between yesterday and last year. It's probably a good sign, right? The reason why I thought that this one was fresh to me was the fact that I used to assign it as summer viewing for my film class. But I will never mind watching this movie again. I actually picked it for family movie night on my birthday, so that's kind of a testament to how much I enjoy this movie.
Part of me chalks it all up to being a Michel Gondry snob. When that man comes out of with a movie, I'm there front row. I just realized that I should be throwing his name into lists more often because I get as excited for a Michel Gondry movie as I do for an Edgar Wright movie. Gondry is the kind of director who makes the gutsiest calls with such ease. At least, it all looks easy. I have a DVD with Gondry's music videos on it. I am not really into music. I'm probably even less into music videos. The only music videos I own are Gondry's and the Beastie Boys anthology, and that's just because it is a Criterion release. I'm a bad person and I'll admit that.
But Gondry seems to really enjoy the art of making movies. I don't know if there's necessarily an active Gondry tone to his films. But the very nature of making art seems to put him in a playful mood. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is bleak as all get out. It's a real bummer of a movie. But the nature of making that movie always gets a big smile out of me. He's this expert at actually contrasting the visual tone with the content of the film. The same can probably be said about The Science of Sleep. These are movies that are about heartache and pain, yet they are so playful throughout. My film teacher knowledge is starting to slip because I know the term for this, but Gondry is one of the directors who wants you to admire the beauty of the film, not get lost in the film itself. His work with non-gory practical effects is completely unique. Very rarely do you need to know the history behind a director before appreciating his or her work, but Gondry's biography only enhances the joy that you can get out of one if his films.
With Be Kind Rewind, the DIY elements that made him such an effective music video director work marvelously. If I had to go against something I said previously, Be Kind Rewind doesn't fight against its story with tone. It's probably why it's not the highest on my list because I love the give and take that the visuals have with the imagery. But Be Kind Rewind embraces the nature of filmmaking and discusses it in the most universal way I've ever seen a movie do. I'm all about movies about movies. The episode of Community we watched last night kind of poked at Charlie Kaufman for doing exactly that, but I don't really care. There is a theme so quintessential to my heart for movies about movies that I just fall in love with them every time.
When we talk about making movies, we talk about the value of art. The stakes are so brutally low that we have to transcend into what it says about us as people. For the world of Be Kind Rewind, this means the death of a video store, and ultimately the home. Gondry places Mr. Fletcher's video store in such a time period where it is mindblowing that it is still open. Relying on VHS in a time when DVD reigned supreme for years is telling. Fletcher's video store isn't one that has a million titles. The customers who rent there regularly probably have seen the majority of his titles. It's actually so small, that the story is dependent on people knowing what a movie is supposed to look like enough to appreciate the Sweded versions of the movie. This is a love of film that isn't snobby. It's a love of film that is universal and communal. What brings people back isn't access to these films, but rather a sense of tradition. Mr. Fletcher watches out for Miss Falewicz and that's why she keeps renting movies from Mr. Fletcher. It's this symbiotic relationship that is celebrated throughout the film.
There's this wonderful shift that happens in the movie that absolutely epitomizes what it means to be a film fan. From a plot mountain perspective, the movie's inciting incident is that Jerry erases all the tapes. To make sure that they don't get in trouble, they decide to refilm each movie one at a a time. The conflict is that they don't want to get caught by Mr. Fletcher when he returns. But the movie abandons that premise at one point and it only thrives because of it. The inciting incident gets the ball rolling for the movie to pick up a wonderful theme along the way: the value of making something. Mr. Fletcher returns exactly when he was supposed to. Gondry doesn't abandon his premise so much so that he retcons it. He just doesn't place the same value on it that it once had. Mike and Jerry don't even try covering up that the films are Sweded. Instead, there's a sense of pride. Some may construe it for celebrity, but there's more of a pride in the product that these two guys made. It's why it is so crushing when Mr. Fletcher doesn't really understand that pride. From an outside perspective, and I suppose from our perspective as well, there's little value to these movies. They are only twenty minutes long and were shot on a camcorder in one take. Without looking at the effort that went into these films, they have no objective value. But the neighborhood, through their involvement and appreciation of these films, see themselves in that effort. In a way, Be Kind Rewind is a bow to the credit sequences of a film and everyone who made something happen.
It's such a gutsy move to have the studio be the bad guys. Yeah, Be Kind Rewind screams indie movie. But at the end of the day, I think it's a New Line Picture. Because the studio is technically right, in the most evil way possible. From their perspective, they are officially breaking the rules. I find it adorable that this tiny little outdated store in Pasaic, New Jersey brings down the suits from the studio, but there is something that is very confusing about the entire situation. (Can I also applaud that Sigourney Weaver, star of the non-Sweded Ghostbusters, is the voice of these suits?) But in a brilliant stroke of abandoning a second premise for a third, the movie then shifts into the value of art as a whole.
These movies that we watch, the ones I write about. We should be watching them critically. This blog is an attempt to stop watching movies passively and to watch them with an understanding of an author's purpose. The people of Pasaic found their love of movies by being inspired by them. But the message of the movie is to take it to the next level. My students interviewed Brian Michael Bendis and asked him what his favorite project was. Because he's a smart guy, he said that it is always his current project. There's something dangerous about being completely shackled to the past. Think about those shifts. The conceit is that they have to hide that they erased the movies. Then they gain pride in making what someone else made. But then they find their value as artists in making something new and original. That's the story of how art comes around. To many, art has no value. It's why people are so mad about the lack of sports right now. (Shots fired!) But then we become influenced with art. That's where I mostly am. I write about movies all the time because they inspire me to want to talk about them and to watch more. It's that next level that Gondry is at. It takes a lot of pain and reexamination to get to that point. It shouldn't be easy to get to that point because that's the journey of the artist.
Be Kind Rewind is a celebration of film. I show it to everyone who wants to get into movies. My kids wanted to watch a lot of the movies that were being Sweded. (Sorry, but there's very little that's cool for kids yet.) But the amount of excitement that they gained from watching joyful people talking about movies joyfully was a blessing. Gondry does what he sets out to do. Be Kind Rewind is not a love letter to Hollywoodd, but to the process of making movies. It takes entertainments as an ultimate goal and deepens it. It doesn't deny the fun element of moviemaking, but shows that it's more than just fun.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.