Some thoughts on the holiday weekend...
I was not the most enthusiastic supporter of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, but curiosity and the Easter weekend got the better of me when it came to the THE PASSION RECUT. Rather, curiosity would have got the better of me if I could have seen it. The film wasn't playing anywhere in Columbus come Good Friday, which is a surprise considering that the area isn't exactly short on screens and that this was the one weekend where resurrecting the year-old film made sense.
For THE PASSION RECUT Mel Gibson trimmed six minutes of violence in order to make the film more palatable for those folks put off by the gore. (Doesn't this editorial decision undermine last year's arguments supporting the depiction of graphic violence as the key to understanding Christ's sacrifice?) I'm skeptical that removing six minutes would have softened THE PASSION sufficiently for those with gentler constitutions. The scourging sequence aside--which is where I understand the majority of the cuts were made--this is still a very violent film, but not having seen the recut version, I can't say if the edits made any difference.
Outlasting THE PASSION RECUT locally is ONG-BAK: THE THAI WARRIOR. I make mention of it because it's remarkable that this martial arts film is now playing for a fourth week here despite less than ideal conditions. ONG-BAK opened with little advance warning--no press screenings or local reviews the first week--and has not warranted much in the way of local promotion or advertising. It's playing on one screen at a 30-screen multiplex, which is not exactly the place where you'd expect to find a Thai import. I don't have access to the box office numbers, but apparently it has done well enough to merit a longer run than some aggressively promoted arthouse films. If ONG-BAK isn't performing up to snuff, why would the AMC brass keep it when they could cast it aside to play the latest blockbuster on four screens instead of three? ONG-BAK is a real hoot that demands to be seen with an audience reacting to the crazy stunts Tony Jaa performs, so I'm glad that this underdog film has found some success.
Strange musical synchronicity: "Black Betty", a folk song popularized by 70s rockers Ram Jam, popped up in two of this weekend's releases. MISS CONGENIALITY 2: ARMED AND FABULOUS uses Spiderbait's cover of the song during a fight in a casino. GUESS WHO employs "Black Betty"--also Spiderbait's version?--when Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher race go-karts. Since GUESS WHO touches upon discomfort regarding interracial relationships, the song may be ill-placed in this film, especially considering the one-time controversy over it.