MaltaToday | 10 August 2008

MoviesToday with Eric German | Sunday, 10 August 2008

A haunted psychic


The film reaches us six years after the end of the series but the passage of time is well accounted for the screenplay.
Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) no longer work for the FBI and they live together. Mulder is a recluse and Scully has become a doctor who’s very involved with the case of a young patient with a brain disease.
A female agent goes missing in mysterious circumstances and the FBI agent in charge of the case, Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet), asks for Mulder’s help.
The only clues to this and other similar cases are provided by a convicted paedophile priest, Father Joe (Billy Connolly), who claims to be a psychic and who has led the FBI to the discovery of severed limbs buried beneath the snow.
Mulder believes in Father Joe but Scully remains sceptical and she’s outraged by his paedophile past. She begs Mulder to abandon the case and when he becomes more involved, she leaves him. Another woman disappears and the severed limbs are found to have traces of a tranquiliser used for dogs.
I Want to Believe was trashed by US critics but I found it a needlessly maligned film. Granted, it’s not your typical X-Files film but it’s an absorbing mix of drama, thriller and spiritual and human conflicts.
It retains some of the X-Files characteristics, mostly through its psychic connection, but the plot is stronger, more varied and makes for a watchable film in its own right.
Writer-director Chris Carter gives the film a terrific opening that’s visually eerie as in the dead of night, an army of FBI agents poke the white snow for what it may conceal and they’re led by the dishevelled, feverish priest.
Carter makes it bristle with tension as he intercuts between the search and the female agent arriving home where her dog barks persistently and her abductor lies waiting. Big, fierce dogs feature prominently and give the film a sinister edge, especially in the scenes showing the ‘caged’ victims.
Unfortunately, it’s only towards the long resolution when the tension mounts, that Carter is inspired to come up with other imaginative sequences and bizarre images full of menace and dread. The solution to the mystery is hardly original but it’s used for a scary and, at times, horrific, effect.
The film benefits a lot from Connolly’s sturdy portrayal of the anguished, priest who’s haunted by his past but who hopes to redeem himself with his newly discovered psychic gifts.
But the best performance comes from Gillian Anderson who has an occasionally unsympathetic but always committed character to portray. She does that by expressing her emotions and thoughts, torn as they are between her love for Mulder and her disapproval for what he’s doing.

Despite its departures from the X- Files conventions, this is the best of the three X- Files films.

The penis and poo film

I had hoped to avoid using the “antipathy” rating which I had introduced in The Sunday Times. But I can take so much insulting punishment and no more.
I’ve always considered Canadian Mike Myers as an extremely limited comedian. But none of his previous films indicated that he would stoop as low as he has in this miserably unfunny film which he also wrote and produced.
Hidden beneath a huge beard, Myers plays guru Maurice Pitka who wants to be as popular as the number one self help guru Deepak Chopra. He gets an opportunity to do so when the owner (Jessica Alba) of a hockey team hires him to cure the cuckolded star player in time for the Stanley Cup finals.
The film simply cries out to be developed as a satire on the craze and practically beatification of self help gurus. Myers has taken the nauseating way out by plumbing the depths of the slop bucket and coming up with the expected muck.
His idea of comedy is an overdose of wannabe gags about small or large penises, juvenile slapstick and gross-out lines like “I’m making diarrhea noises in my cup.” Instead of wit we get single meaning double meanings like having the rival team star player named Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Justin Timberlake).
Myers is in almost every scene and since watching the film is unrelieved agony, he makes it feel much worse by insisting on laughing at his own flinch-inducing jokes.
Throughout it all he keeps up an embarrassingly cheap and clichéd imitation of Peter Sellers’ inspired personification of an Indian doctor in The Millionaires. By provoking comparison with Sellers’ genius, Myers emphasises his own mediocrity.
His dung heap mentality reaches its peak when he has two elephants copulating in public during the climatic match.


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