Many directors will tend to stay within their preferred genre when they make films. Some of the more talented directors can direct in multiple genres. Of course, many genres cross many boundaries, making it easy to slip from one into another. However, there are still some genres that are separate enough to require the need for different award categories. These broad genres are those of drama and comedy. Those familiar with the masks of the early Grecian theatre will know that the masks of drama and comedy (i.e., Melpomene and Thalia) are the defining icon of the theatre. Because they require very different acting and directing skills, a director who can successfully direct both dramas and comedies can be a rare find indeed. Robert Schwentke hasn’t directed many films, but those he has have covered both drama and comedy genres. This week’s two movies are from each of these categories.
Length: 111 minutes / 1.85 hours
Robert Schwentke started his film career in Germany with two films in 2002 and 2003. His second film was Eierdiebe (2003), a comedy about testicular cancer, an ailment he also survived. In 2005, when he started making films in America, Schwentke began showing his skill in adapting other works into his own films. While he has adapted two novels into films, The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009) and Insurgent (2015) (the second film in the Divergent series), he has also adapted two comic books into films. Even though the tone of the original comic books might have been different, Robert Schwentke took a more comedic approach in his adaptations. The latest one of these adaptations was R.I.P.D. (2013), which was a project he was probably given after the success of his first comic book adaptation: RED (2010).
After being attacked in his home by six assassins, Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) figures that the team had tapped his phone, which is why he immediately heads from Cleveland to Kansas City to pick up the woman he’s been talking to a lot on the phone: Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker). Since she only knows him as a retiree who hasn’t been getting his retirement benefits, she isn’t willing to go along with him to find his former associates. Frank essentially takes her hostage and meets up with his mentor, Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman) in New Orleans. The two of them track down the paranoid Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), who tells them that they are all part of a hit list based off of a 1981 mission they performed in Guatemala. Now they need to figure out why this particular mission was a trigger for the hit list, as well as keep avoiding the CIA hit-squad led by agent William Cooper (Karl Urban).
The Time Traveler’s Wife
Length: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours
Balance is key to many areas of our lives, but it can also apply to directing. Schwentke tends to only stay in a particular genre for a maximum of two films, switching to the other genre in a pretty regular pattern. With his breakout German film, Tattoo (2002), he showed that he could excel in directing a suspenseful thriller. This was repeated in 2005 with the American film, Flightplan. However, between these two films, he directed his first comedy film, the aforementioned Eierdiebe. One of the traits of Schwentke’s recent works is that they infuse science fiction. From the sci-fi comedy of R.I.P.D. (2013) to the sci-fi drama of Insurgent, Schwentke has shown his skill of genre mixing. Of course, the first science fiction drama he directed was none other than the adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife.
Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) travels through time at random. As a result, sometimes Henry knows nothing about the situation, whereas other times he knows everything. This is made evident when he met Claire Abshire (Rachel McAdams) in a library in 1991. She tells him that they’ve met multiple times before, even if it’s the first time he ever remembers meeting her. As time passes normally for Claire, their relationship deepens, eventually leading to their marriage. Unfortunately, since he cannot control when he time travels, Henry will sometimes disappear, causing Claire to worry. To make matters worse, his temporal abnormality is genetic, which causes Claire to miscarry a few times due to the baby time traveling. Even though fortune eventually smiles on the couple with a pregnancy, Henry is killed a few years after their daughter’s birth through a freak time traveling incident.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Robert Schwentke genres