Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mister Atlas - LegendHeroFriend|
Director: Karen Arbeeny
Fantastic adventure abounds in this story about a boy and a god. Danny Nielsen (T.J. Lowther) goes for a stroll one day when he unwittingly falls into a deep hole. Unable to get out, the boy begins to search around and fin... more »
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Wayne F. (WWIIpfc) from COLORADO SPGS, CO
Reviewed on 11/23/2011...
It's a very good story.
E. Beckstrom | Indiana, USA | 10/13/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
A review by Romulus Crawley, Nebraskan Desolate Times (Copyright 2002)
Every so often, a long-neglected film is finally released on DVD, and what for some releases would be a mere event becomes an Occasion. Such is the case with "Mister Atlas," a 1997 gem which made a significant splash in the ocean of popular audiences, who saw its value, but which then promptly sank beneath the overbearing tide of the elitist film reviewing industry, which, at the time, just didn't get it.
The plot of "Mister Atlas" centers on Danny, a lonely, pre-adolescent boy who encounters the Greek god, Atlas, in an abandoned gold mine. Said mine is on the property of the boy's aunt, who has taken care of him since his parents were killed in an archeological dig. Danny lives with this kind yet romantically-challenged aunt and her boyfriend, who is scheming to sell her property for his personal profit.
As the DVD packaging points out, conveying an unadulterated sense of family values is at the center of the film's purpose. "Mister Atlas" can be viewed on a number of levels, but clearly wants first and foremost to be a family picture. In this regard, it succeeds splendidly. For instance, the aunt's semi-abusive, shallow relationship with her live-in-boyfriend (whom, it is implied, she met on a one-night-stand), including his fondling of her posterior, as seen from Danny's point of view, is handled with taste and good humor. Thus, "Mister Atlas" is a family movie in the truest sense of the term. The tag line, "Mister Atlas: Legend...Hero...Friend," also reflects the film's place within that subgenre. Nonetheless, the filmmakers were not satisfied to simply conform "Mister Atlas" to tried-but-true generic conventions.
Prior to the appearance of Atlas, Danny's closest male friend has been the lovable drunk Irishman and farmhand, Gus. Even more so than this relationship, however, which is itself fully fleshed out with delicacy and subtlety, the friendship that develops between Atlas and Danny is handled with a depth and rigor rarely seen in contemporary mainstream cinema. One endearing and utterly non-disturbing scene in particular, in which Danny hoses down a naked, glistening Atlas (the god's frontal is tastefully hidden behind a strip of farm fencing), is a touchstone example of the complex values the film emphasizes: loyalty, innocent man-boy intimacy, friends helping friends. That the film doesn't shy away from such moments is a testament to its sincerity and depth. A similar, albeit more understated moment, finds Danny walking down a dirt road with the nearly-naked, sweaty Atlas, a complete stranger to everyone in town. A police car pulls up, but rather than the third-degree scene one would expect from an interaction between law enforcement officials and a half-naked, strange man seen walking down a desolate road with a twelve-year-old child, the interaction is instead characterized by trust, along with an absolute faith in the motives of men wearing loincloths. Refreshing, to say the least, in these days of cinematic cynicism.
The hosing-down-the-Greek scene, and the fact that the police officers do not fall prey to the stereotypes associated with ancient Greeks and young boys, reflects another of the film's positive attributes; namely that "Mister Atlas" daringly plays with, but does not buy into, ethnic stereotypes (e.g., whiskey-swilling Irish farmhands; Greeks). These moments are a tribute to the film's courage, honesty, and social-progressiveness. Yet, scriptwriter Elaine Chekich and director Karen Arbeeny are not heavy-handed in their approach to these complex and potentially controversial elements. At its heart, "Mister Atlas" remains a family entertainment movie.
Nonetheless, Chekich and Arbeeny do indeed tackle complex ideas even as they craft a deft family-oriented dramedy. Atlas, the epitome of mature maleness, as juxtaposed with the pre-adolescent boy, represents what the boy can become. But even as he beckons the future, Atlas also embodies the past, both in terms of what has been lost and what has been inherited. As part of this thematic project, the film deconstructs one of the tacit claims made by (post-)(post-)modernity, and reveals something that should be obvious, but which our (post-)(post-)modern society so often forgets: that modernity is built upon the past. The ancient Greek god's struggle with technology (light switches, pasta) is sublime. Atlas, representing innocence and other values that cinema and society often treat as being "outmoded," erupts from the past--literally emerges from a "gold mine" of ancient (but still crucially relevant) wisdom. Mister Atlas, film and character both, pleads, If only modern society would set aside its shallow sophistication and work the mine of its past roots! Man / child, past / future, old ways / modern ways, ancient wisdom / contemporary shallowness: "Mister Atlas" quickly and efficiently establishes these supposed dichotomies in the first 15 minutes of the film, but then masterfully deconstructs their allegedly oppositional relationships. Ultimately, the film reveals the falsity and cynicism behind society's insistence upon such oppositions, but it does so with subtlety, in a manner which leaves the family pic intact.
(Note that as a bonus, Digiview Entertainment's deluxe DVD release of "Mister Atlas" includes special features such as English, Standard Full Frame, Approx. 82 Min., Color, Stereo Sound, and Interactive Menus.)