Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Vanishing on 7th Street - Hayden Christensen Battles Apocalyptic Darkness

Some mysteries are too bizarre to forget, like the ones of the Roanoke Colony who, in the late 16th century, were among the first European settlers in America. They attempted to establish a community in 1585. They elected a governor named John White, but his hamlet’s small population soon bemoaned the lack of food and supplies. America wasn’t always the land of milk and honey that it’s touted to be. John White travelled back to Europe which was in turmoil (the Anglo-Spanish War was in fervent swing). For years, Mr. White wasn’t heard of, until his return 3 years later. But he returned to a ghost town. Everything else vanished, even the houses, except for a few items: some small cannons, an open chest, and a tall fence around the perimeter of the village. At one of the fences was an inscription written “Croatoan”!

No one knew what what it meant, although Croatoan is supposedly the name of an island near this settlement! Did the early settlers join the natives of Croatoan, if there were indeed any? In almost slapdash fashion, this was referenced to somehow explain the phenomenon occuring in the film, “Vanishing on 7th Street”.

Director Brad Anderson weaves a story of four strangers: TV personality Luke (the gorgeous Hayden Christensen), movie projectionist Paul (John Leguizamo), bereaved mom Rosemary (Thandie Newton) and young boy James (Jacob Latimore) who survive a mysteriously catastrophic event that occurs in darkness, like a black smoke enveloping people who then disappear into thin air. What’s left are heaps of empty clothing plopping down floors and chairs. The whole world is a vast deserted landscape where, as darkness envelopes Detroit, a sinister smoke-like force roam to sequester any remaining human life.

Hayden Christensen makes for a perfect lead, navigating his world in punctiloius fashion, as he discovers he isn’t the lone survivor. Thandie Newton who’s grieving for the loss of her baby does an uneven characterization that swings from sympathetic to overwrought. Meanwhile, Leguizamo has this exasperating character who’s fast on his conspiracy theories and unexplained mysteries, but really keeps his comrades on their toes while he’s mostly confined lying down on his back over benches, floors and tables.

Though I am aware that some of the greatest mysteries are those that bear no explanation, in cinematic language, this isn’t so. There has to be a degree of rendition to explain the event because why thrust a narrative that doesn’t make sense, right? The film feels a bit unfinished and under explored, but it’s hard to deny the biting, tension-soaked atmosphere as our protagonists roam the darkness, bearing flashlights that seemed to have been made in some crumbling factory in China. More over, the movie fleshes a conclusion that feels rudimentary at best. Nihilistic, even.

Despite its inadequacies, I am just too thrilled to be oggling at Hayden Christensen’s face who looks like he’s been sent down by the Gods to show us what physical beauty is like. And my heart went pitter patter! ;->

Hayden Christensen as Luke who's looking for his wife from whom he's separated. "She doesn't want me," he says. I am telling you, Hayden, I am benevolent. I take leftovers. LOL

John Leguizamo, once again on his back!

Hayden Christensen: beautiful in color, black and white.

Be still my beating heart! His thoughts on happiness: "All I want is all what my mother wanted for me when she raised me - to be happy. For that, I don't need to be in a relationship. I don't need to have a certain level of respect. I just want to care very much about what I do and be kind to everyone in the process. It's important that I can feel that. That's happiness."

Hayden finished a movie called "Beast of Bataan" set in Tokyo and Manila about post-occupation issues that involve a Japanese who may be responsible for the Bataan Death March. His next movie is "Money For Nothing" about an honorable husband and father who has been receiving a check for $1,000 once a month from an unknown benefactor for seven years. Then he meets the benefactor. What was all the payment for?

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