Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend of Sequels

It was a weekend full of sequels for Memorial Day, but only one of the three series represented was worth revisiting.

I'm not going to waste any more - well, not ink - space on the world wide webs or what have you on the "Fast and the Furious" and "The Hangover" franchises. But to be fair, I'll admit that the "Furious" sequels have gotten better as time goes on, whereas the latter series has gotten less funny. Not that I was a huge fan of either series from the beginning.

On the other hand, it was a pleasure to meet up once again with Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke), the central figures of "Before Midnight," which is the third in Richard Linklater's "Before" series of films.

While the first two pictures told an almost-storybook tale of romance, this one's much more grounded in reality, I suppose you could say. It's certainly the least romantic of the three films and the saddest. I'd argue that the "Before" pictures are the American equivalent of Michael Apted's brilliant "Up" series - the only difference being, of course, that "Before" is fiction, while "Up" is a documentary.

Here are my Patch reviews.

This coming weekend, I'll likely catch "Now You See Me," "After Earth" and "The East."

And, finally, Cannes Film Festival just wrapped up. Needless to say, there are a lot of movies I'm looking forward to down the road - namely, "Inside Llewyn Davis," "The Past," "Nebraska," "Only Lovers Left Alive," "A Touch of Sin," "Blue is the Warmest Color," "Venus in Fur," "Like Father, Like Son" and "Only God Forgives," despite the mostly negative reaction.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Funny 'Ha'

Noah Baumbach's "Frances Ha" is a wry, witty and charming picture. And while its lead character is a sad sack, of sorts, she's a far departure from some of the more misanthropic figures that popular the director's ouvre.

That's not a criticism, by the way. I've been a fan of Baumbach's work for some time now. So, while "Frances Ha" is not on the level of, say, "The Squid and the Whale" or "Greenberg," it's still a very recommendable mashup of the French New Wave and Woody Allen - but with Baumbach's touch and Greta Gerwig's personality in tow.

I wasn't a huge fan of "Star Trek Into Darkness," while at the same time not being exactly a detractor. It's a pretty by-the-numbers affair in terms of its storyline and relentless number of action sequences. It's a well-shot and well-enough acted picture, but more of a minor entry in the franchise.

Here are my Patch reviews.

This coming weekend, it's sequel-itis. One of them - Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight" - I'm highly anticipating. The other two - "Fast and the Furious 6" and "The Hangover Part III" - meh. But I'll catch them all and report back to you next week.

Meanwhile, anyone see "Mad Men" last night? One of the more surreal episodes in the program that I've seen. Certainly memorable.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Roundup: Gatsby, The Iceman and Sightseers

I'm gonna keep it real short this week as I'm in a poor state of health and feel as if I'm at death's door. OK, that's a slight exaggeration.

I found half of Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" to be decent enough, especially Leonardo DiCaprio's performance. Unfortunately, the first half of the picture was just as over-stylized as everyone feared it might be. All in all, it's not a bad movie, just a flawed one.

I was pretty riveted by the true crime story "The Iceman," particularly by Michael Shannon's spellbinding work. Sad to say, I was not such a fan of Ben Wheatley's latest, "Sightseers," a grim comedy that wasn't particularly insightful, funny or inventive.

Here are my Patch reviews.

This coming weekend's reviews will include Noah Baumbach's "Frances Ha" and "Star Trek Into Darkness."

Monday, May 6, 2013

Weekly Roundup: Iron Man 3, Something in the Air, Post Tenebras Lux

So, it wasn't the summer kickoff I was expecting. And, no, I'm not referring to "Iron Man 3," which was adequate, but only slightly better than the second entry in the series.

Olivier Assayas's "Something in the Air" is a decent period piece on 1970s radicalism, but it's no "Carlos." That being said, it's still the best of the four films I saw this past weekend.

But Carlos Reygadas's "Post Tenebras Lux"was sort of a bust. The picture certainly had some evocative imagery and sequences, including one in which a young girl stands in a field filled with cows and dogs as an overcast sky looms, another during which a devil sneaks through a home as a little boy looks on and, finally, another in a sex spa. But it's a scattershot effort.

Here are my Patch reviews.

Lastly, I caught "Greetings from Tim Buckley" on On-Demand. The picture had some great music, naturally, but was a little slight in the storytelling department.