Saturday, March 10, 2007

'300' scores millions, but you might prefer to spend time with 'The Host'

I can't truthfully say I was terribly disappointed when I had to blow off a preview screening of 300 earlier this week while preparing for my journey to Austin for SXSW. Truth to tell, the trailers struck me as promising... Well, let's just say that A.O. Scott confirmed my darkest suspicions (and made me laugh out loud in the bargain) when he wrote yesterday in the New York Times that the CGI-suffused flick is "a bombastic spectacle of honor and betrayal, rendered in images that might have been airbrushed onto a customized van sometime in the late 1970s." (Not that there's anything wrong with that, you understand -- but it's not exactly high on my list of priorities.) On the other hand, judging from Nikki Finke's box-office report, millions of other moviegoers were appreciably more impressed.

Even so: If you can't get into any of the sold-out screenings of 300 this weekend, and you're lucky enough enough to be living in a city where The Host (pictured above) has opened in limited release, you'd be doing yourself a favor if you check out that Korean-produced import, which I've been raving about ever since I caught it last fall at the Denver Film Festival. Indeed, you'd be doing yourself a favor even if you have no intention of ever seeing what Nikki Finke has dubbed Gladiator Lite. As I have written elsewhere, Bong Joon-ho's audacious and exhilarating crowd-pleaser is a startlingly poignant family drama that also happens to be a tremendously exciting, smartly subversive and often explosively funny horror flick. To put it simply and gratefully, The Host is the damnedest thing you're likely to see all year.

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