Sunday, March 16, 2014
Weekly Round-Up (3/9/14 - 3/15/14)
Non-Stop (Jaume Collet-Serra) **1/2 - The first two acts of this film, I must say, are pretty solid. I wasn't expecting much but an entertaining, schlocky movie where Liam Neeson kicks ass on a plane, no more no less. And for the first two acts, that's exactly what I got. But then the third act plot reveal is kind of ridiculous (and more than a bit jarring). It mars what could have up until then to be a solid B-movie thriller. I can't excuse lame plot twists even in schlocky B-movies! This is the second film collaboration between Liam Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra and the second time in a row where this happened: Solid premise and first two acts then falls apart in the third.
Spring in a Small Town (Mu Fei) ***1/2 - This is classic from Chinese cinema. A dutiful wife married to a sickly man gets a visit from her husband's childhood best friend....who also happens to be her high school sweetheart and true love. What could have been a sappy, standard-issue sentimental weepie flick is of course given an artistic and emotional treatment. The third act in particular is spectacular. It takes a while to get there but once it does, it hits hard. This is In the Mood for Love before In the Mood for Love.
Need for Speed (Scott Waugh) *1/2 - I saw this film for one reason and one reason only: Aaron Paul. I love him in Breaking Bad. I think he's a tremendous actor. From the trailers, this definitely seems like cashing in the popularity of the Fast & Furious franchise. I was hoping it would give a bit of a boost in the genre with better actors in it (not to mention one of the writers is a freakin' Oscar-nominee). But alas, it is not to be. Aaron Paul tries his darndest and acts his heart out but it wasn't enough to save the lame script. The car stunts were, admittedly, pretty cool (LOOK, MA! NO CGI) but it's surrounded by so much bullshit that even those moments were not as exciting as it could have been. Aaron Paul deserves better.
Crumb (Terry Zwigoff) **** - An endlessly fascinating documentary on controversial cartoonist/comic book artist/satirist Robert Crumb. We get a peek into his life, his work and his family (among his brothers, as it turns out, HE'S the normal one.) You need not be a fan or even be familiar with his work to be fascinated by this remarkable documentary. It gets kind of personal, uncomfortable, shocking and sometimes really funny. Terry Zwigoff creates a fascinating document of a truly remarkable and unique artist. It must be seen by anyone even remotely interested in art.