Between Two Worlds

Doggedly literal-minded, The Mummy tunnels into its subject. The action takes place largely in tombs infested by flesh-eating beetles while, not too tightly wrapped, the eponymous monster appears mainly as a manic moldering corpse. Alternately clownish and bemused, Brendan Fraser rehearses his Dudley Do-Right campiness in the requisite role of the brash treasure hunter (it's a footnote to the part he played as muse to James Whale in Gods and Monsters). As the season's second ample and tousle-haired Brit gal of the Sahara, Rachel Weisz shares Fraser's sense of humor—she's introduced toppling the bookcases of an entire library. All characters are imagined as types, although the presence of several crude American cowboys can scarcely compensate for the sort of egregious Arab bashing that seems far harder to eradicate in Hollywood than the dread Mr. Mummy.

Making the ephemeral real: Oda Erika and Arata in After Life
Artistic License/Film Forum
Making the ephemeral real: Oda Erika and Arata in After Life

Details

After Life
Written and directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu
An Artistic License release
At Film Forum
Through May 25

The Mummy
Written and directed by Stephen Sommers
A Universal release

Like the newly dead of After Life, the Mummy is stuck with a single memory—albeit not a happy one. If the monster were placed under psychoanalysis (as he was by film theorist Bruce Kawin), he might be diagnosed as a symptom come to life—an ambulatory "repetition compulsion," forever doomed to reenact the frustrated sacrilege and consummate the passion that got him mummified in the first place. Drop the romantic aspect and that analysis would equally well describe the mindless force behind Sommers's larky remake.

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