Thursday, August 26, 2004

WCBE 90.5 FM (NPR): "Hero," "Garden State," "Scarface"

WCBE #180-Final
“Hero”,”Garden Sate,” “Scarface”
Taped: 4:00 pm, August 25, 2004
Air Time: 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm, August 27, 2004
Streaming live on the web at

Yimou Zhang’s "Hero" is an assassin’s assassin . . .

"Garden State” is your garden variety "Graduate" . . .

Brain DiPalma’s “Scarface” lives on again this week at Studio 35 . . .


Richelle Antczak:
It's Movie Time in Mid-Ohio with John DeSando and Clay Lowe . . .

I'm John DeSando

And I'm Clay Lowe.

John ("Hero")
Clay, Now and then it’s good for both Eastern and Western cultures to redefine the concept of “hero.” Brad Pitt’s recent success as Achilles (“Troy”) reconfirmed the heroic warrior’s physical excellence and foolhardy courage as a hallmark of Hollywood’s version. From the East, in the time before China’s first emperor, Jet Li’s “Nameless” in the film “Hero” takes a different turn: Although physical like Pitt’s Achilles, he is even more the cunning Ulysses, the hero with brains and a heart with an insightful vision of his country’s future and a humble realization about his place.

The film’s action at times looks like the digitized and ballet-like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and its cinematography has blindingly vivid colors.

The definition of hero changes depending on the culture and the times. The dynamic heroes of “Hero” do not fit Emerson’s prediction that “every hero becomes a bore at last.” Perhaps in the sequel.

Clay ("Hero")
John, there’s nothing boring about the movie’s sullen young “Hero,” who according to his version of the story, masterfully disposed of the three assassins who had set out to murder the king.

The movie’s fight scenes, staged against a backdrop of visually magnificent landscapes, are resplendent in color. but the battles themselves become tedious because the filmmaker, like many of today’s mainstream directors, tends to rely too heavily on the use of special effects.

Our hero lunges like a tiger, soars like an eagle, and is able to leap tall mountains in a single bound, but is he really the best swordsman? In these days of digital enhancement only his visual designer knows for sure.

The hero’s best line:

“The ideal of a true warrior is to lay down his sword.”

John ("Garden State")
Clay, Like the parkway of the same name in New Jersey, “Garden State” is not as pretty as it sounds, not as much fun as a semi-stoner film could be, but it gets you to where director/writer/star Zach Braff wants you to be—in a funky state of awareness that our purpose in life is to accept who we are and love when possible. Andrew Largeman (Braff), like his obvious counterpart Benjamin from “The Graduate,” is lost in L.A.

Returning to the Garden State for his mother’s funeral, Andrew meets Sam (Natalie Portman), who releases, as Elaine did for Benjamin, new feelings and insights.

Director Braff laces the film with references to death such as the burial of Sam’s gerbil, and, of course his mother but manages to keep the tone light, for example, when Andrew and friends smoke weed and play spin the bottle. That admixture makes “Garden State” enjoyable and manipulative at the same time.

Clay ("Scarface")
John, Brian DiPalma’s 1983 version of "Scarface" is not just one more of those Hollywood grab the money and run re-makes. Completely re-conceptualized, the updated version began in the summer of 1980 when Castro unloaded his jails and packed the prisoners into boats headed for Miami.

One of those immigrants, played by Al Pacino, was to become, as was Paul Muni’s original “Scarface” character, the king of the mob. But instead of dealing in bootlegged whiskey, Pacino’s “Scarface” climbed his way to the top on a mountain of cocaine.

Unspeakably violent -the bad guys get hung from copters and the good guys get sawed alive- the movie’s script, penned by Oliver Stone, is tough talking and replete with the “f” word. You know, the word recently used on the floor of U.S. Senate by our Vice-President in what he characterized as a moment of therapeutic relief.

[John, a tip of the brew to Studio 35, the Drexel Theatres, the Wexner, Dayton’s Neon Theatre, and Yellow Springs Little Art for providing of us with the offbeat therapeutic relief we see often seek.]

But enough of the proud and the profane, it's grading time.



"Hero" earns an "A" for its ACTION and its ART. . .

"Hero” gets a “B” becauseI find live action more aBsorBing than CGI . . .

"Garden State" is a "B" for having a BIT of BENJAMIN. . .

"Scarface” gets a “B” because Al Pacino gives a bully performance . . .

Clay, I'm going to prove I'm a HERO by driving on The Garden State Parkway. I'm outta here!

I'm outta here.

John, not to worry, in New Jersey a Hero is only a sandwich. I'm outta here too.


OOOOPS. See you at the movies, folks.


The Award Winning "It's Movie Time" with John DeSando and Clay Lowe is produced by Richelle Antczak in conjunction with 90.5 FM, WCBE in Columbus 106.7 FM in Newark, WYSO, etc.


Copyright 2004 by John DeSando & Clay Lowe