Short Cuts: Reasons not to A) fly again, B) visit Denmark or C) watch ‘Finding Bliss’“Short Cuts” are expedient, pretension-free movie reviews. In this installment, Budgeteer editor Matthew R. Perrine tackles the startling TSA documentary “Please Remove Your Shoes,” the stays-with-you Danish film “Terribly Happy” and the ho-hum “hardcore” comedy “Finding Bliss.”
“Please Remove Your Shoes”
WHAT IT IS: Rob DelGaudio’s documentary “Please Remove Your Shoes” is a revealing look at the security flaws in America’s air travel system. One of its main focus points is the well-meaning Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which was created in response to the 9/11 attacks on America; it was designed to succeed where the airline security process overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration had failed, but a case of “too many cooks” and government red tape has hindered it from Day 1.
WHAT ONE JERK THINKS ABOUT IT: Like fellow filmmaker Michael Moore, DelGaudio is a bona fide patriot with the best intentions. Unlike that controversial storyteller, however, the man behind “Please Remove Your Shoes” sticks to the issues and doesn’t stoop to any low blows. In other words, this documentary takes a critical look at a very real issue in modern society (terrorists exploiting air travel) and delivers a startling piece of cinema. Viewers will walk away from DelGaudio’s film heated up; at worst, they’ll never want to fly again, but, erring on the side of optimism, perhaps they’ll also want to get involved and help our nation’s lawmakers see just how screwed up the TSA really is. (Speaking of lawmakers, longtime Minnesota representative Jim Oberstar gets a good chunk of screen time in this documentary, as travel issues are of grave concern to the veteran DFLer.)
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO ABOUT IT: See it any way you can. If this film doesn’t get you writing letters to your representatives in Washington, nothing will.
Learn more about “Please Remove Your Shoes” at www.pleaseremoveyourshoesmovie.com.
WHAT IT IS: An unnerving Danish thriller (with English subtitles) from director Henrik Ruben Genz. Following a nervous breakdown, Copenhagen police officer Robert Hansen (played by the superb Jakob Cedergren) is sent to a (very) small town where Coen Brothers characters would fit right in. Turns out, it was probably the last place he should’ve been sent.
WHAT ONE JERK THINKS ABOUT IT: I was just hoping “Terribly Happy” would be a letdown — you know, so my inner teenager would be able to say how “terribly crappy” the movie was. (Bad jokes just write themselves, don’t they?) Alas, it was no letdown. In fact, many parallels exist between the storytelling abilities of director Henrik Ruben Genz and David Lynch, one of my personal favorite moviemakers. The characters are completely believable, despite the fact that you never know 100 percent what’s going on. You even come to identify with some of them, even though something very sinister is brewing in all of their respective circulatory systems. … I apologize for writing in generalities, but, frankly, this captivating film relies more on surreal atmospherics and just-plain-bizarre behavior to tell the tale of a place you will hopefully never find yourself — à la the city of Lumberton in Lynch’s 1986 masterpiece “Blue Velvet.”
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO ABOUT IT: Rent it. Unless, of course, you totally like to depart from your current place in this world on a regular basis, then you’ll definitely want to purchase this fine film — escapism is a beautiful thing.
Learn more about “Terribly Happy” at www.oscilloscope.net/shop/view_film.php?ID=18.
WHAT IT IS: A romantic comedy that takes place in perhaps the oddest of locations: a film studio that specializes in pornographic — sorry, adult entertainment — fare. Down-on-her-luck recent film school grad Jody Balaban (the always-lovely Leelee Sobieski) takes a job at Grind Productions in the hopes that she can work on her own film, a romantic tale of celibacy, at night after the XXX actors and actresses have gone home for the night. Well, she does, but she also falls in love with … oh, wait, am I giving too much away?
WHAT ONE JERK THINKS ABOUT IT: What went wrong? I get that romantic comedies are supposed to be horrible by design, but just look at the cast members whose talents were wasted here: Leelee Sobieski (“Eyes Wide Shut”), Denise Richards (“Drop Dead Gorgeous”), Kristen Johnston (“3rd Rock from the Sun”) and Minneapolis native Tim Bagley, whom you might recognize from bit parts in “Knocked Up” and “Walk Hard.” Even Jamie Kennedy, a can’t-win comedy actor many find utterly annoying, was a welcome sight during this 96-minute slow death of a film. And don’t get me started on the plot. It’s so predictable it hurts. Comedy magic is supposed to happen when the porno cast is recruited to help finish Balaban’s movie about people actually in love, but the way it just all falls into place is terribly groan-inducing. It’s sitcom writing at best. An ABC sitcom, no less.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO ABOUT IT: Forget it. While the cast is largely enjoyable, there aren’t even enough good lines or memorable scenes to warrant a “DVR it.”
Learn more about “Finding Bliss” at www.findingblissthemovie.com.
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