Summer Movie Reviews: Mel Gibson, Jessica Alba, and Harper Lee on the Valley’s Silver Screen
Mel Gibson’s The Beaver, Jessica Alba’s An Invisible Sign, and Mary Murphy’s biopic Hey Boo, about To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee, all have ties to the Hudson Valley
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With Thor and Fast Five tearing up the box office, you know that the summer movie season has officially begun. But if you seek out the little indies — and there’s been a flood of ’em in the past couple weeks — you can find glimpses of local scenery.
Let’s start with The Beaver, the new movie directed by Jodie Foster and starring Mel Gibson. It’s dark and strange, about a man (Gibson) who experiences crippling depression and finds he can rejuvenate his life — if he only communicates through a stuffed beaver hand-puppet. (The bad parts of his personality stay in his human form, he explains, while the good parts are channeled into the puppet. Somehow, this makes him talk like Ray Winstone.) The Beaver’s release ran into trouble when it came to light that Gibson’s suffers from mental illness that no amount of hand-puppets can heal.
In the film, though, his character has a shot, and he tries to give his family the happy suburban lifestyle they deserve. How do you accomplish this? A trip to Playland, of course. The quick, wordless montage-of-fun doesn’t mention the amusement park by name, but it’s unmistakable. The family even goes through the mouth of the Dragon Coaster!
Changes are in store for Playland. I’d say its cameo in The Beaver should help raise its profile — it’s portrayed as a place of family togetherness, bonding, and fun, after all — but that’s only if an audience will bother to go out and see it. Besides the off-screen Gibson drama, the film is dogged with only so-so reviews.