Based on the autobiography of Ramon Sampedro, a
quadriplegic whose right-to-die case became
something of a cause celebre in Spain, this Best
Foreign Film Oscar-winner was directed by
Alejandro Amenabar. The picture chronicles the
28-year crusade to legalize euthanasia mounted
by Ramon in the wake of the tragic diving
accident that left him paralyzed while still in
the bloom of youth.
It stars Javier Bardem who exhibits an
impressive range of emotions as Sampedro, in
spite of the limitations inherent in playing the
bed-ridden protagonist. Most of the film
transpires on his family’s farm in Galicia,
where Sampedro is lucky enough to enjoy a
panoramic view of a rolling hillside while being
attended to by his father (Joan Dalmau), brother
(Celso Baglio), sister-in-law (Mabel Rivera) and
nephew (Tomar Novas).
The ensuing gut-wrenching drama that unfolds
involves two women with diametrically opposed
agendas. Ramon’s lawyer, Julia (Belen Rueda),
sympathizes with her client’s predicament
because she herself is suffering from a
degenerative disease. And then there’s
salt-of-the-earth Rosa (Lola Duenas), a factory
worker and single-mom intent on convincing Ramon
that he still has much to live for. A most
unlikely romantic triangle evolves, resulting in
a tender tug-of-war for both the man’s brain and
Besides addressing the obvious right-to-die
issue, “The Sea Inside” simultaneously makes
significant statements about the meaning of
loyalty, love, fear, justice, morality,
relationship, friendship and of life itself.
Bardem grades out highly for rising to the
challenge of playing a person immobilized from
the neck down. Director Amenabar does assist a
bit in this regard via several escapes into
magical realism during daydream sequences.
|Team America: World Police
Don’t be misled into believing that “Team
America: World Police” is a wholesome puppet
flick appropriate for young and old alike.
Despite its patriotic plot line revolving around
a squad of super-heroes out to save the United
States from a terrorist attack, the film also
involves enough graphic depictions and lurid
descriptions of explicit sexual acts that it
deserved an NC-17 rating.
Who’s responsible for peddling this smut so
seductively wrapped in red, white and blue
trimming? No surprise, it’s Matt Stone and Trey
Parker, the brains behind “South Park,” the
irreverent cable-TV cartoon series with its own
cast of foul-mouthed kids.
“Team America” is
pretty much an in-house effort, with Parker
directing and sharing a scriptwriting credit
with Stone, while the two also supplying the
bulk of the voice for the marionettes. The pair
do dreadful, lazily-executed, one-note
impressions of well-known celebs such as Janeane
Garofalo, Danny Glover, Alec Baldwin, Samuel L.
Jackson, Ethan Hawke, George Clooney, Martin
Sheen, Liv Tyler, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Susan
Sarandon and Michael Moore, ridiculing each for
their liberal activities.
This makes the movie
seem more like an arch-conservative rant than
comedy. But far worse is the offensive ethnic
stereotyping. For instance, Trey’s caricature of
Kim Jong Il milks most of its humor out of the
diminutive North Korean leader’s mixing-up the
letters “l” and “r” when speaking.
repeatedly suggests that it’s okay to hate
people just for being different. Perhaps it’s
unfair to expect more from such a sleazy,
cheesy, sophomoric production, but it’s hard to
imagine that anyone would be interested in such
an irredeemable exhibition of ethnic intolerance
and moral depravity.