Don't Open: Richard Kelly's "The Box"

by robbiefreeling
November 6, 2009 9:57 AM
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Take me seriously!

Many reviews of The Box will start out like: “After the disastrous reception that greeted Southland Tales, director Richard Kelly...” This opening apologia acknowledges the massive blunder that was Southland (though there are still a handful of defenders), and opens up wiggle room to reinstate Kelly as a filmmaker worth watching, regardless of the relative quality of The Box itself. His intelligence and ambition—perhaps even “vision”—will be referenced, his genre-mashing sensibility lauded, and even if the film might be not be any good (more on that shortly), Richard Kelly himself will likely emerge unscathed to fight another day. In reality, what should be said of The Box, especially in the wake of Southland Tales, is that when it comes to Richard Kelly there’s no there there, and likely never was. Click here to read the rest of Jeff Reichert's review of The Box.

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  • dontstealmyidea | November 9, 2009 1:53 AMReply

    i was referring specifically to the following line:

    "Set in Richmond circa 1976 so that Kelly can make needless reference to the Mars Viking missions (his reliance on locating his narratives within imagined near pasts and futures to create critical distance has grown tiresome)"

    also, i don't particularly think that the autobiographical element makes it more arbitrary. perhaps from a story point of view, if you assume that stories arrive fabricated entirely out of thin air. however i think people tend to write/create material they are close to ("write what they know", perhaps?) it seems that if details were tweaked to get around the fundamental similarity between the main characters and their inspiration, it would be even more random still.

    also, i will direct you to the line in my comment "not that this changes any of the reviewer’s substantive criticisms". cool it with the vitriol.

  • clarencecarter | November 9, 2009 12:36 AMReply

    So, basing portions of THE BOX's ridiculousness on his parents somehow makes the whole thing less arbitrary? Did Kelly's dad shoot his mom in the chest after they received a box in the mail and a man with half a face showed up offering money? I didn't mention it in the review because it only made the movie seem even more useless. The autobiographical cast only makes the whole thing MORE arbitrary--as if Kelly's just grabbing at bits and pieces of whatever's available to him for inspiration. This would be fine if there seemed to be any overall design for the piece (see: Quentin Tarantino).

    And tsuhhuh, if ONLY this movie were all the level of Shyamalan's craft. If only...

  • eshman | November 8, 2009 11:39 AMReply

    As I've always said, give Reichert 25 minutes and he'll give you nothing but a bag of boring zings. Give him 30, though, and some of those zings can really pass the time.

    At 45 mins Reichert is motherfuckingzingmonster.

  • tsuhhuh | November 8, 2009 5:48 AMReply

    thoughtless review, you obviously only saw the film once and wrote it off after 25 minutes. your criticisms are so surface level ("hey, i'm going to make fun of the phrase 'lightning people' to make it seem silly and m night shamalayanesque") that i doubt you truly took the time to understand the film's message. Which is fine, just don't write a mediocre (not to mention unintelligent) review filled with boring zings (as if reverse shot didn't have enough of those already).

  • dontstealmyidea | November 6, 2009 11:24 AMReply

    worth noting, for the sake of the review, that the film's setting is largely based on kelly's own upbringing. the main characters are almost entirely based on his parents, the area is that of his childhood, etc.

    not that this changes any of the reviewer's substantive criticisms. we merely cannot accuse him of using an arbitrary time/place.