Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Box

The Box
Originally uploaded by wbmoviesgirl
Norma, Arthur and their son Walter are a happy family but like most people are strapped for cash and having trouble making ends meet. Just when Arthur discovers NASA has rejected him from the astronaut program Arlington Steward shows up on their doorstep with a box and a proposition. The box contains a button, and if Norma and Arthur push the button they will get one million dollars, but somewhere in the world, someone they don’t know will die. Desprate and unbelieving, Norma presses the button and she and Arthur are sucked into a mystery that neither one of them can understand or find their way out of.

Not surprisingly, The Box is a movie that most people won’t like. This is a morality tale and if anyone wants to be honest that means it’s a movie that can’t have the easily accomplished, cop-out ending. As a true morality tale The Box makes sure it has a lesson to impart and does so in the best way it can: just like Icarus got caught up in the moment and plummeting into tragedy, Arthur & Norma help cause the tragedy that unfolds around them and they have no one to blame but themselves.

Part of what I loved about The Box is that it’s a true Richard Kelly film – it’s a morality tale with a B-movie, science fiction slant. By setting the film around NASA in the seventies Kelly is allowed the room to play with a world that is still wary of technology, space and the mysterious “other”. Arlington Steward is a mystery instead of a search on the internet – genuine gumshoe work is required. This lends an aura of mystery to the film that is hard to accomplish in a film set in a contemporary period. Even though this mystery involves the supernatural it is one that could be easily resolved now adays as it revolves around one central figure, one who could be easily tracked on the internet or in any computerized database. I assume Kelley added this element to the short story himself as he said the concept for Norma & Arthur in the film were based around his parents.

Richard Kelly films thrill me in a way that I have talked too much about to those that know me. He makes movies that can still surprise me, movies that have visuals I want to emulate, and stories that astound me. I am sad that the mass audiences no longer have the film vocabulary to view and enjoy as Richard Kelly film, but I have to hope that the more movies he makes and the longer they pick up followings on DVD that the easier it will be for a mass audience to see and enjoy his films in the theatre.

Director & Writer: Richard Kelly
Norma: Cameron Diaz
Arthur: James Marsden
Arlington Steward: Frank Langella
Dana: Gillian Jacobs
Walter: Sam Oz Stone

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