Friday, October 22, 2010

Movie Review: Hereafter

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Another weekend with lots of movie choices due to the Hawaii International Film Festival but due to working so many volunteer shifts, time has been limited. The only full program I saw was Short Program #3 which of the five shorts showed, Table 7 was the most entertaining. And I got to sit in on about 40 minutes of Old Damien Road which talked about the Hanson Disease patients on the island of Molokai. The anime movie, Welcome to the Space Show will be probably the one other HIFF film I'll see this fall showcase. When we go to the movie theater, what are we after? We're here after a good movie! Unfortunately, Hereafter was not what we were here after.

I don't know what got into Clint Eastwood. He's given us wonderful movies like Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima, Flag of our Fathers and Grand Torino; all are excellent films. Then he gives us Hereafter. It's the story of three people and their connection to death. After watching this film, you'll join their connection with this film that would bore you to death.

The first person we meet is Cecile de France who plays Marie LeLay, a french journalist who happens to get caught in a giant tsunami wave and sees the proverbial white light and then comes back to join the world of the living. They didn't mention specifically and even though the location looked like Maui to me (it was), they wanted to make it look like an area that was caught in the horrific December 26, 2004 tsunami that ravaged and devastated South East Asia.

The second person is Matt Damon's big role as George Lonegan, a psychic who can make a connection with the dead via a touch to a living person. He's the real deal as they show other frauds who tarnish the reputation of psychics across the globe! He's had enough of dealing with the dead but his brother Billy (Jay Mohr) thinks that he should rake in the bucks by doing readings for those that want to communicate with the departed.

The last are the 12 year old twin brothers Marcus and Jacob (George and Frankie McLaren). Jacob is 12 minutes older than Marcus and is unexpectedly taken into the hereafter. Marcus is searching for meaning to his brother's death when he almost falls victim to an event that happened in England in 2005.

Eastwood sets up a time frame for the movie with these two major events. Because of the mature thematic elements including disturbing disaster and accident images, and for brief strong language, the movie was rated PG-13. The time line in the movie is very deliberately set out but at 129 minutes, it could have and should have been trimmed down.

Many of the visual pulled you into the story, but then you got pushed back by the plodding of the plot. The set up didn't give you the pay out that you would have hoped. As you watched the tsunami happen on screen, there wasn't a sense of urgency or true helpless conveyed as we watched. Yells and screams for help or fear or anguish were absent. The same with Marcus' close call.

The plot was so slow moving that a guy in the row behind me fell asleep and started snoring. LOUDLY! The guy in my row sitting in front of the snorer woke him up not once, but twice during the course of the movie. Then Mr Alarm Clock took a call on his iphone and left the theater. He wasn't there to wake up Mr Snore Machine a third time and we spent the last 15 minutes of the movie hearing logs being sawed over the soundtrack.

Eventually the paths of the three end up crossing, but by this time who cared. There was no emotional investment in Marie, George or Marcus. When the movie ended there seemed to be a big collective yawn come from the theater. This would seem to indicate that the longevity of this movie is going to move very quickly into the hereafter. And in case you want to cure your case of insomnia and don't want to head to the theater, go to the official web site of Hereafter at and click SKIP for viewing the trailer. Make sure your speakers are on. When the main page comes up, I think you'll agree that music like this would cause a visit from the sandman so that you too can sound like you are sawing logs!

The Movie Monkey

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