AT THE MOVIES: Reviews of Analyze That, The Way Home and Personal Velocity

Analyze That
by Jeff Frost
4 Hatchets

“You. You. Yoooouuuu. You’re good.” Oh DeNiro, he’s such a kidder.

In Analyze That, Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal return for a sequel that should pale in comparison to its predecessor. Instead, Analyze That, the sequel to Analyze This, surpasses the original.

Paul Vitti (DeNiro) has been in prison for 850 days fantasizing about home-cooked tuna casserole. After he has an “episode,” Dr. Ben Sobol (Crystal) is called in to treat his old patient. A musical, and apparently catatonic, Vitti is released into his custody.

From there, Vitti tries to adjust to life on the outside as Sobol tries to adjust to his new houseguest and personal problems of his own. But old habits die hard, as do old gangsters. It doesn’t take long for Vitti to return to his criminal element, and for the element to return between Vitti and Sobol.

This sequel is far and away funnier than the original. Though the first was characterized by a subtle humor, DeNiro’s newfound appreciation for comedy shines through. His ability to deliver one-liners and even a bit of physical comedy is impeccable. Crystal does the same thing in this movie as he did in the first, but remains funny in his role nonetheless.

The film is odd in that the first half is a “laugh-a-minute” comedy, and the second half becomes focused on Vitti’s gangster activities, particularly a gold heist. Though the film remains funny throughout, the elaborate heist scenes keep it from getting stale.

The first film made the mistake of focusing on the already neurotic Sobol’s uneasiness with the mob. This one makes confident gangster Vitti the fish out of water, providing funnier, more interesting material.

The overall light and breezy tone of the first film is the same, but Analyze That triumphs over its predecessor in every way.

The Way Home
By Matt Windman
3.5 hatchets

The Way Home is a valentine to emotionally distant grandmothers everywhere.

The story concerns a South Korean child Sang-Woo (Yu Seung-Ho) who is sent to spend a summer with his grandmother (Kim Eul-Bun) in a country hut. The film follows his emotional adjustment to his new surroundings and the slowly-formed bond he forms with his grandmother.

The movie resembles the work of a theatrical scene study. The characters themselves are the heart of the movie and demand the strict attention of the audience.

Jeong-Hyang Lee and Lee Jung-Hyang, who both directed and wrote the film, are willingly ready to criticize contemporary society and its emphasis on isolation among cultures and generations.

Sang-Woo comes across as an everyman of the America Online generation. He is overtly intolerant of his new, technologically-relaxed environment.

The grandmother, likewise, is the typical victim of loneliness and a distanced society. She comes off as the typical old woman that no one can easily understand. Her connection with her grandson feels well-earned and rewarding.

The movie explores human and environmental psychology through the adventures and emotional changes of both characters.

Its aim seems to tell younger audiences that cultural barriers, however unyielding, can be broken. A mutual human connection with our elders grows slowly and is quite precious.

Although the Korean film is performed with subtitles, it feels natural to even the English-speaking movie-goer. College students can easily enjoy it, especially after a movie season bursting with wizards and British spies.

Overall, the movie remains simple and well-spirited. It is a great movie for the family without the familiar add-on of Disney animation.

Its chicken soup-like qualities can be easily digested by any generation.

Personal Velocity
by Lauren Spitzer
3 Hatchets

Insignificant events often drive a person to reach a turning point in their life. Rebecca Miller’s independent film Personal Velocity, based upon her collection of short stories of the same title, chronicles the lives of three women who have reached this point.

The film begins with Delia (Kyra Sedgwick) whose story begins at age 12, when she is outcast by her peers. Sedgwick plays a strong-willed wife and mother. She abandons her husband in search of power, not only over men, but also over her life and future.

The film then turns to the more lighthearted Greta (Parker Posey). Her story is one of a brutal editor, and how fate can bring success. Destined to be prominent like her father, Greta finds herself torn between her uncontrollable infidelity and her “perfect” marriage.

The final vignette involves a young woman, Paula (Fairuza Balk) coping with her newly discovered pregnancy followed by her desire to help a young, abused hitchhiker.

Perhaps their most compelling performances, Sedgwick, Posey and Balk all offer a profound look into the reality of women’s lives. The women have separate, unconnected and complicated issues, yet can be understood on some level.

The reality of the characters’ stories is furthered by the use of digital video with little technology, capturing the intimacy of each of the women’s lives. Miller’s Personal Velocity seems to master the film’s dramatic genre with the camerawork, along with still frames accompanied by narration taken from her book.

Personal Velocity explicitly and powerfully portrays the struggles many women deal with, while providing a sense of overall hope as Greta’s father explains, “Everyone has their own personal velocity.”

Although geared toward a female audience, Personal Velocity is not a criticism of the men in the character’s lives, as it shows the slight victimization of two men and involves a variety of issues. Although a dramatic film, Personal Velocity provides much humor and wit and is well worth a viewing.

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