Monday, August 11, 2008

Oh, Canada

I saw two films this weekend, both of which filled their respective screens with snow and ice, one of which was very, very good, and one of which wasn't. (I wonder, is it easier to release icy films in the summer, so that the moviegoer isn't tormented by thoughts of what awaits them outside after the credits roll? Does the excess a/c of summer theaters add to the experience of watching characters take white puffy breaths on screen?)


I can't put my finger on what went wrong with the "X Files" movie (I know it has a title, but I'll be damned if I'm going to muster the energy to remember it or research it), but it just didn't work. I like the idea of a stand-alone, non-mythology-related mystery, but this particular one was not much more than a retread of multiple horror film plots (with a dash of "Futurama" thrown in for good measure.) Add an exceedingly boring secondary plot about a child patient of Scully's and you have your two hours (although I am convinced that the second plot had more screen time than the main one - or did it just seem like it dragged on forever?) Something was off throughout, and it wasn't just a misplaced nostalgia for the old days. When Scully accused Mulder of still being hung up on finding his sister, I became really annoyed - wasn't that already covered? Over and over? But it didn't matter, as it was a throwaway moment that meant nothing to the plot of a throwaway film. Sigh.

But before I was asked to believe that Canada could pass for West Virginia, I spent a couple of hours watching a truly wrenching story set on the border of Canada and upstate NY. "Frozen River" is a film about two women whose paths cross one night just before Christmas; one, a mother of two with a runaway gambler husband and a balloon payment due on a double-wide mobile home she is doomed to lose, and the other, a young Mohawk woman with a dead husband and an obsessive need to continue his illegal alien smuggling operation in order to give money to the mother-in-law who has stolen her baby son. These two women have more chemistry than any two long-suffering FBI agents, and the bitter dark nights they spend crossing a frozen river on the border are more haunting than any moment Mulder is seen stumbling, bloodied, through the snow.


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