Frequency , Jackie Chan’s First Strike , Father of the Bride
Weekly DVD/Video Picks
by STEVEN D. GREYDANUS | Source:
An ideal Father’s Day movie, Frequency is newly available in an inexpensive “mini-DVD” edition. Starring Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid, Frequency is about the legacy of fatherhood and the inheritance of sonship. Most of all, Frequency touches upon the profound human longing to escape the constraints of time, to see the wrongs and mistakes of the past somehow set right, redeemed.
The story: A Queens cop whose firefighter father died heroically 30 years earlier has a mysterious opportunity to communicate across time with his father. The second half falls back on some standard time-bending complications involving efforts to stop a serial killer.
Why are time-travel type stories so compelling? God has placed eternity in our hearts; we aren’t satisfied to be bound by time. We long to see the tragedies wrought in time undone, to see all things work together for good. Even in this life there can be partial realizations of this desire. In fiction, time travel offers a metaphorical and imaginary way of exploring this desire. Frequency does this as well as any time-bending tale I know of.
Content advisory: Profanity and harsh language; some strong violence and gunplay; fleeting disturbing images (mostly crime-scene photographs). Could be fine for some teens.
Jackie Chan’s First Strike (1996)
So it’s not high art. Lighthearted and goofy, without a mean-spirited bone in its body, jaw-droppingly choreographed and executed, First Strike is an ideal introduction to Jackie Chan’s unique blend of slapstick physical comedy, cartoonish cops-and-robbers adventure, and inspired action stuntwork. Yes, he’s a martial artist, but in spirit Jackie’s appeal is closer to that of Buster Keaton or Fred Astaire than that of Bruce Lee or Jet Li. His work isn’t about kung-fu moves or beating up bad guys, but about comedy, athletic grace, creative choreography and acrobatic derring-do.
A big Jackie action scene, typically involving a dozen assailants, is more like a Broadway musical number than like a typical fight scene. When he leaps between the rungs of a folding ladder to get away from an attacker, then picks up the ladder and spins it around before plopping it like a cage over another foe, one marvels that anyone even thought up such stunts in the first place, let alone pulled them off.
Not all of Jackie’s films are worthy fare. Some are marred by less appealing aspects of Hong Kong cinema (e.g., sexist humor). Fortunately, First Strike, is free of such drawbacks, with a cheerfully silly story in a satiric James Bond mode (but without the womanizing or sadistic violence), making it a good film for Jackie newcomers.
Content advisory: Much martial-arts action; a bit of minor profanity; a comic scene involving a forced public disrobing (brief rear male nudity). Teens and up.
Father of the Bride (1950)
The quintessential father-daughter movie, Father of the Bride features Spencer Tracy in one of his most beloved roles as the bemused, doting father of a spirited young bride-to-be (Elizabeth Taylor) in a suburban domestic comedy of manners about that daunting rite of passage, planning a wedding.
How is it possible, Tracy wonders, to spend so much money, yet have so little say in how it’s spent? Sentimental and sweet, the film ekes comedy from the chaos, but its heart is Tracy’s devotion his daughter, and her love of him.
Content advisory: Nothing objectionable. Fine family viewing.
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