Suspense, Sahara and Sartre

Dubby Bhagat


You have relentless, slow suspense in the beautifully filmed ‘Undertow,’ which is directed by the cinematic poet of the American deep south, David Gordon Green, who said, “We found locations that were burnt down, beat-to-hell hideouts that were fat on character and strong on stink.” ‘Undertow’ is about two children on the run with gold coins, chased by a demented uncle. One of the kids is played by Jamie Bell, the British actor of ‘Billy Elliot.’ The most difficult thing was for Jamie Bell to lose his British accent. He worked with a dialect coach with fantastic results. He says, “There was a girl on set the other day and all she saw was me doing a scene and then I just started talking normally and she was like are you joking? Are you putting it on, what are you saying, what are you talking about? So I had to say no, this is how I really speak.” Says critic Glenn Kenny of ‘Undertow,’ “Family secrets get an airing and then a reckoning and then the adventure begins.” The boys and meet extraordinary

characters and situations. There is a shooting, a drowning, a knifing and what happens to the gold coins is the stuff of adventure. ‘Undertow’ is worth a watch.

... ‘Sahara’ is about gold coins, too. But this time, the movie based on the Clive Cusslers novel has his series hero Dirk Pitt and sidekick Al Giordino looking for a battleship, incredibly, lost in the Sahara desert. ‘Sahara’ has plague, mad scientists, horrible dictators, chases, gunbattles and, as a critic says, it combines Indiana Jones and James Bond. Dirk is played by Matthew MacConaughey who said, “It seems great to make an all American action film that is cool and classic and has whole lot of actions and we get to play with the coolest toys around.”

Penelope Cruz acts as a doctor but it is Steve Zahn who plays Matthew’s buddy who nearly steals the movie. What’s fantastic is the kinds of means of transport Sahara has from ships to camels to helicopters to trains to … definitely worth seeing. ‘For I Heart Huckabees’ which calls itself an existential comedy gold is dross and what counts is existence as defined by Sartre and Camus and interpreted by two existential detectives Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin in a wordy but funny film by David O Russell.

‘I Heart Huckabees’ has environmentalist Jason Schwartzman trying to find why coincidences are happening to him and the detectives find it’s because of Jude Law and Naomi Watts who are with a chain store called Huckabees and are trying to infiltrate Jason’s group of nature savers. Mark Wahlberg acts as a firefighter also in need of getting his existence examined.

Says David O Russell, “I would describe my film as a sort of the Mark Brothers go into consciousness.” Dustin Hoffman adds, “It’s funny that’s the main thing. It’s like two philosophers talking about existentialism while they slip on a banana peel.” The detectives believe everything is connected while a French nihilist played by Isabelle Huppert is of the opinion that life is a series of random events. The last word goes to critic Jeff Shannon, “No brief description can do justice to Russell’s comedic conceit; you’ll either be annoyed and mystified or elated and delighted by this wacky primer for coping with 21st century lunacy. Deserving of its mixed reviews, ‘I Heart Huckabees’ is an audacious mess, like life itself, and accepting that is the key to enjoying both.”