Sunday, March 9, 2014

Weekly Round-Up (3/2/14 - 3/8/14)

The World's End (Edgar Wright) **** - The third and last (?) film in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's Cornetto Ice Cream trilogy. A very funny film about a group of childhood friends who reunite to do a "pub crawl" in their old hometown only to find the townspeople replaced by alien/robot copies a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Once again, like with the other two films, the film is a really clever homage to classic genre pictures as well as being a really funny, really fun and absolutely delightful film on its own. However, this film cuts a bit more deeply because it also manages to be a bit more poignant than the other two. I think I still regard Shaun of the Dead just a wee bit higher but Edgar Wright still continues his perfect batting average. Loved it.

Twenty Feet from Stardom (Morgan Neville) *** - This is one of the Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Feature this year and it's all about background singers, the unsung heroes of the music industry. It focuses on a few including Darlene Love and Judith Hill. It's a puff piece. I don't mean that as a slight but my problem with this film is not that it is a puff piece about background singers but that it doesn't really cut deeper than expected or share new insights that I was half-way expecting a film like this would have. The filmmaking is also competent and doesn't really do anything new. It is enjoyable. It features some great singing. You'll have some newfound respect for these people, especially if you're a music fan, but overall, it's not something that I would vote for as "Best".

12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen) **** - Finally! I've seen all 9 Best Picture nominees. Did this deserve the big prize among them? It's a VERY close race. 2013 has been such a strong year that even the Academy could not make an embarrassing choice. After challenging and difficult films like Hunger and Shame, director Steve McQueen tackles yet another challenging and difficult subject matter: American slavery. A free black man is kidnapped and sold as a slave where he spent 12 years of his life. It features absolutely shattering and beautiful performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o as well as Michael Fassbender and Sarah Paulson (who's VERY underrated, IMO) as their masters. Among McQueen's three films, this is probably his most "accessible" but it's no less a harrowing piece of work as the other two.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman (Rob Minkoff) ***1/2 - It's shaping up to be a fairly strong year for animation. After The LEGO Movie, yet another animated film hits it out of the park and from Dreamworks, no less. I'm finally happy that Dreamworks has got its act together and is putting out actual good work. I may have seen an episode or two of Mr. Peabody cartoons by Jay Ward because the original designs look naggingly familiar but I wasn't all that familiar with it otherwise. I didn't grow up with it. The film is fun, zippy and sweet. It's also surprisingly quite funny. I'm not generally not a fan of kiddie style scatological humor but I didn't mind them here. They even manage to weave in grown-up adult humor organically without snarky winking. There's an incest joke, a masturbation joke and a blow job joke In this movie which kids will most likely not get but grown-ups will. Best one to do since Animaniacs. It is pure fun. I wanted more.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I'm glad peabody and sherman is good, I watched a lot of rocky/bullwinkle as a kid