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"Knight and Day" or Ozu? (Definitely Ozu.)

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Eric Kohn June 23, 2010 at 11:49AM

"Knight and Day" or Ozu? (Definitely Ozu.)
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Let's say you're hanging around New York City this weekend and have a burning desire to plop down some hard-earned dough for a good movie. Assuming you've already done your crying duties with "Toy Story 3," your latest multiplex option is "Knight and Day," an airy, feel-good action movie that combines the whiz-bang premises of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with "Collateral," and raises the bar in the canon of campy Tom Cruise performances with the actor playing a rogue FBI agent who does a lot of sprinting, ducking, shooting, etc. Aw, hell, just watch the trailer:

Yep, it's just like that. A very fast, enjoyable ride, to be sure, but one increasingly devoid of meaning even on those terms. Cruise and Diaz play off each other as if attempting to channel the classic loopy chemistry of the best romantic comedies, but they're perpetually stuck in a world of tired explosions and aimless banter that never fully escalates to the next level of involvement. The wheels keep on turnin', but to what end?

Now, if you want a serious mind-fuck of a dramatic experience at the movies this weekend, I'd say your best bet is "Dogtooth." But there's also Yasujiro Ozu's brilliant 1932 silent comedy "I Was Born But...," a tender story that looks today like "The Little Rascals" randomly inserted into the suburban yearnings of a Douglas Sirk melodrama. Playing at the IFC Center for two weeks with the rare 1929 Ozu short "A Straightforward Boy" (starring future Japanese star Tomo Aioki), the movie earns its tears with, dare I say, far more class than "Toy Story 3" -- a movie I like a lot, but Ozu's movie displays the tenderness of childhood simplicity slamming into grown-up struggles in a manner that remains potent to this day. And that's a far more profound degree of emotional investment than you'll get in the sleek, impeccable universe that Pixar routinely creates.

Still, given the two-week run for the Ozu film, I'd say your money could be well spent helping "Dogtooth" out at the box office, too. "Knight and Day," on the other hand...look, if you want to see Tom Cruise running around a lot, I can take care of that for you right now:

Ozu's "I Was Born, But..."

"Dogtooth"

'Nuff said.