Thursday, August 28, 2014

Movies July-August 2014

BEST

MicMacs. What an amazing film. A dark-comic story about a man's crusade to take down the global arms trade with the help of some kooky friends and using some really clever strategies.

Wit. The film of a play that must be even more powerful on the stage. Emma Thompson plays a woman facing terminal cancer, and despite that the movie is quite funny at times and certainly thought-provoking.

Temple Grandin. What a delightful story, a true story about an autistic woman who not only has the life she wants but changes the life for autistic people coming after her. I'm very impressed with Claire Danes, I didn't know her range would extend this far.

The Book Thief. I thought this was a film for young people, but it stood up very well to adult scrutiny, thanks in part to an excellent performance by Geoffrey Rush.

The Grand Budapest Hotel. What a fun movie, as I expected it to be, coming from Wes Anderson, whose Moonrise Kingdom was one of my favorite films two years ago. I watched it twice and wouldn't mind a third time around, there's so much going on around the edges, like the keys on Gustave's lapels, that may go unnoticed the first time through. This must have been such a fun change for Ralph Fiennes after being Voldemort for so many years. The music is wonderful, as everything from Desplat seems to be. Don't miss the hat Tilda Swinton's character wears, or the end of the credits.

GOOD

Apocalypto. Surprisingly good considering I don't care for its director, Mel Gibson. The images have stayed with me, and if the story strained credulity at times, I think it was trying to tell a good story about a man very devoted to his wife and child.

Dear Mr. Watterson. A documentary about the impact of the cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes on readers. A few times I wanted to say to the director, "Get a life," but it was fun to see and hear about so many cartoons that I've enjoyed so much.

Afterwards. Starring one of my favorite actors, Romain Duris, an odd, somber story that never quite gripped me fully, and which seemed to suggest that people around you are going to drop like flies.

DIDN'T LIKE

Empire Falls. What an inordinate waste of talent on the part of a superlative cast. I haven't read the book, so I don't know if this was a case of a 10-pound novel being shoved into an 8-ounce bag or what, but it's awful.

Oblivion. Predictable sci-fi film.

The Great Beauty. Some beautiful cinematography in this story about the beauty of Rome, but I found the main character, Jep, hard to like. He's a wealthy man who attends parties with socialites and snarks about people to their face. He has a miniature awakening when he learns of the death of someone he used to know, but by the time he shows any depth of character I had lost interest in him and the film. There are many more beautiful films to watch.

TV

Top Gear. Apparently a favorite British TV show. If you enjoy listening to people whine about what's not working for them, with tantalizing scenery in the background that never gets its due, be my guest.

RE-SEEN

Amelie. It hadn't occurred to me that Amelie qualified as Magical Realism until I saw it listed, but considering how many other films in that genre are among my favorite recent films I shouldn't be surprised. The film has stood up very well to the passage of time, it's not at all dated.