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Uncross the Stars

Platinum // PG-13 // September 29, 2009
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted January 6, 2010 | E-mail the Author
Uncross the Stars:
Arghh! That's what I'm coming away with, after watching Uncross the Stars, not because it's 'bad' in the traditional sense of the word. It's just easy. It's mid-century computer programming; three buttons on a TV remote. Click. Click. Click. As the little metal bolt is thrown, the Sylvania switches from poignant Pop Song to even more poignant Strings Instrumental as the young, bereaved husband moves from denial to acceptance. Spare me the moldy platitudes. Uncross is tastefully photographed, skillfully assembled and taken far more seriously by the actors than necessary. It's adding insult to injury.

Corinne, the wife. She's dead, most likely cancer. Her husband plows through the funeral and after with stoicism that a statue would admire. He's a waxwork Kyle MacLachlan. Corinne wrote him a letter. She loved him, and he ought to help his kooky aunt out in the desert build a porch. Or deck. While there, Ron Perlman plays Yoda, and everyone wonders: Will Yoda somehow free Husband from his pain? And will Yoda hook up with kooky aunt Barbara Hershey? As they say; "if you have to ask ..."

As noted, there are no slack performances here. Hershey plays her annoyingly patronizing hip elder character with all the conviction that a Taos-living turquoise jeweler in her 60s might muster - she's totally convincing as a customer most folks would run from. That is, before she woos them with her earthy, mystical charms. Perlman's totally game, too, and it's so nice to see him without makeup. Sure, he can pull down multi-million-dollar paychecks to deck out in Hellboy gear, but he can also act, and he's simply an arresting presence. His desert-dwelling earthy mystic, (sense a pattern?) however, comes across a cheap Confucian, far too inclined to spout aphorisms on his way to enlightening them uptight youngsters. And so it goes.

Beautifully filmed, with plenty of gorgeous landscapes from which to draw, Uncross scores points for looks, and for making most viewers wonder what it would be like to live in a house with a gravel lawn and a few cacti to tend. Beyond that, it serves cliché like a slavish lickspittle, likely rendering even delicately seasoned viewers embarrassed, fumbling for the fast-forward button. Worse, for every senses-numbing nod to convention -each character, including the cadre of goofy/ mystical senior ladies Hershey tends, ought to be puppet characters from a Jim Henson fantasy - there's a plot-forwarding, mopey pop song or maudlin instrumental. At one point one trenchant troubadour leaves the stage for 10 seconds before another explains a little more of what Husband is feeling. We'll just say the soundtrack is overbearing (and clichéd, too).

Uncross the Stars tastefully enters the long queue of films wherein the loss of a spouse allows the survivor to grow emotionally. If it weren't for the ever-diminishing age of the survivors - or protagonists in general -it'd be much easier to toss this in the mid-life crisis bin. Wife's died, pal? Good for you, now you can grow up and find true meaning! It's not a bad message, basically asking us to open our eyes before it's too late. It's just too bad it's delivered in the indie-romance-tragedy-comedy fashion that's been done to death. Maybe now that these movies have reached death, their writers will wake up and find true meaning as well.

The DVD

Video:
Our 1.85:1 ratio DVD-Rom screener is absolutely no indication of the quality of final product, especially since it would not play for my machine, and had to be watched on my laptop.

Sound:
The same goes for the Stereo Audio Track, except it's fun to note the tracks are reversed on the screener, so when cars drive off stage left, the sound heads stage right.

Extras:
No extras were included on the screener.

Final Thoughts:
For a nicely acted, tastefully photographed and smoothly edited movie with Barbara Hershey and Ron Perlman, Uncross the Stars really aggravates. Its clichéd plot involving a young widower and his journey to emotional absolution via spiritually resonant personas in a Southwestern town never escapes orbit. We've seen it, we've read it, and it's always the same. Worse, this iteration jerks us around with so much leading music it's as if the producers credit us no intelligence at all. Skip It unless you're so easily swayed that television commercials make you cry.

www.kurtdahlke.com

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