Reviews: 'Changing Lanes,' 'Beckett on Film'
Video review: 'Changing Lanes'
(Entertainment Weekly) -- "Sometimes God likes to put two guys in a paper bag and just let 'em rip,'' seethes legal beagle Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck), reflecting on his daylong battle with luckless Everyman Doyle Gipson (Samuel L. Jackson). He almost nails it: Change God to a screenwriter and guys to stock characters, and you'll know what to expect from ''Changing Lanes,'' a hospital-corners morality play that pleasantly exceeds itself.
Filtering the Golden Rule through ''Spy vs. Spy,'' the story fates Banek to sideswipe Gipson on FDR Drive, then hurriedly abandon him at roadside. This makes Gipson disastrously late for a child-custody hearing and ignites his ''path of the righteous man'' vengefulness (a mode Jackson might consider retiring). A Pong-like feud ensues, supposedly illustrating how ''everything decent is held together by a covenant...not to go bats---.''
Non-profundities like that are the only real potholes on this briskly morose tour of New York City -- or rather, the Hollywood version, where rain falls on Feckless White and Angry Black stereotypes alike.
-- Scott Brown
DVD review: 'Beckett on Film'
Playwright Conor McPherson, one of the 19 directors behind the Gate Theatre of Dublin's astonishing, comprehensive collection, makes a persuasive case that without Samuel Beckett, there would have been no Harold Pinter, thus no David Mamet, thus no Quentin Tarantino.
It's a sharp point, but one that scarcely needs making since Beckett's plays themselves -- all of which are here, from the full-length masterpieces ''Waiting for Godot'' and ''Endgame'' to the 45-second-long ''Breath'' -- are as relevant in grappling with both the metaphysical and mundane as they were the day they were written.
You can quarrel with some of the interpretations (which range from stunning successes to interesting misses); you can even argue, as one critic does in an accompanying documentary, that the mere act of filming Beckett ruinously distorts his work. But there's no quarreling with the array of talent both behind the camera (Anthony Minghella, Neil Jordan, Atom Egoyan, Mamet) and before it (Jeremy Irons, Alan Rickman, John Hurt, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Julianne Moore, among others). Since no theatergoer has ever left a Beckett play without thinking, at least once, ''What was that?'' the opportunity this collection provides to find out by repeated viewings makes it an utter treasure.
-- Mark Harris
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