Several years ago, on a cold February morning, I was involved in a multi-car pile-up while on my way to work. Snow the night prior had given way to freezing rain, making the driving conditions extremely slippery. Being a lifelong Vermonter, I knew to proceed with caution and put plenty of space between my car and the vehicles in front of me. Everyone else on the road seemed to be taking heed of the situation so I assumed that I would get to work without too much difficulty. Unfortunately, I was very wrong. I was coming down an incline when the pile-up began, giving me a birds-eye perspective of the situation. There were six cars ahead of me on the road, all traveling at the same slow speed. In front of this line of cars a small red vehicle appeared from a side street and, instead of waiting before pulling out, attempted to jump ahead. As this driver pulled out, his wheels began spinning, rendering him limited traction on the icy road. When he was unable to move forward, the first car in the line coming toward him hit his brakes to avoid a collision. Just before impact, the little red car gained traction and sped away. Unfortunately, the car that was braking spun around and came to a complete stop sideways in the road. What followed was one crash after another as each car attempted to brake to avoid a collision. I watched this event unfold and had enough time to realize that I was inevitably going to be part of it. Sure enough, as I attempted to gingerly tap my brakes, my car spun out of control and I broadsided the growing pile of automobiles. Not more than three seconds after I made impact, another car hit me, and then another car hit that car. In the end, nine cars were involved. Fortunately, no one was hurt, mostly due to the slow speeds of the vehicles involved. However, an interesting thing happened when the state troopers arrived to clean up the situation: almost everyone involved in the accident had a different opinion of what had transpired. I listened as a few of the drivers explained their stories. One driver insisted that a dog was involved; another claimed that one car was trying to pass another. Only one other driver (the first guy in line) acknowledged the little red car as the initiator of the pile-up. I waited my turn and told the officer my story, adding that from my unique vantage point I could give him an absolute retelling of the events as they actual happened. I assumed he would be pleased with my information, but instead he simply took a few notes and moved on, giving as much credence to my explanation as he had to the person who claimed it was caused by a dog. I learned that day that one event can be interpreted several different ways depending on an individuals vantage point. That concept is exploited in a rather interesting way in this weeks feature, Vantage Point, an upbeat thriller that reworks the standard movie-making approach. Vantage Point is the story of an attempted presidential assassination. Nothing new with that storyline except that in this film the span of events are rewound and retold several times from several different vantage points. This quixotic approach allows the film to unfold in a unique way. As each new angle is reviewed, more information is delivered to the viewer, slowly revealing the absolute truth of the event. I noticed that some viewers in the audience seemed displeased every time the film rewound and started again from a new perspective. I imagine that these people rarely leave their comfort zone when it comes to movies. For me, the unique twist on chronology added a whole new level of excitement. Had this story simply unfolded in a standard beginning-to-end format, it would have been forgettable at best. We live in an era where a film must stand out in order to survive. Sometimes we notice a film because of great acting or great special effects. In this case, Vantage Point is worth noticing because it is entirely different than what you are used to. I encourage you to check this film if youre in the mood for an exciting, fast-paced, and extremely different motion picture. Its not going to end up on any Best of lists at the end of the year, but it is a film that you will not soon forget. A timely B- for Vantage Point.
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Video Pick Of The Week
Heres another classic from acclaimed filmmaker Mike Nichols (The Graduate, The Birdcage, Closer). Carnal Knowledge is the story of two college roommates who have dramatically different opinions concerning women. One sees them as objects meant to be conquered, the other sees them as goddess meant to be worshiped. The film follows the two as they move in and out of relationships over the course of several years. Considered fairly risqu_hen it was released in 1971, Carnal Knowledge is a spirited critique of the varied relationships between men and women. Check this one out just to see the bevy of great acting performances, most notably from Jack Nicholson and Ann-Margaret.