No one has ever accused Luc Besson of being a master filmmaker – despite gems like Léon: the Professional, La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element. Part of that is because he likes to juxtapose things that are utterly real with things that are utterly ridiculous. Usually, that means putting a down-to-earth old school spy next to someone who looks like Emma Peel, or creating an utterly fantastical world and making the lead a real-guy cabbie. With Lucy, he takes three genres – an intense drug thriller, an over-the-top action movie, and a psychedelic would-be philosophical statement – and crams them together in unexpected ways. Somehow, it works.
It’s a story we’ve seen many times before: curmudgeon (of not the lovable variety) succeeds in business while keeping himself in self-exile through a cloak of bitterness until a kid or a woman (sometimes both, as in this case) come into his life, break down his walls and reveal the wonderful person underneath. Usually, the result is a ham-fisted, overdone movie that is either mind-numbingly boring, or offensive in its sheer inoffensiveness. And So It Goes is a happy exception.
In real life, espionage is not glamorous. It’s like police work – mostly plodding detail work and following up and generally boring ninety-nine percent of the time. John le Carré worked in that field long enough that when he writes about it, he writes with a real understanding of mechanics of the spy game. His ability to make the mundane thrilling is without equal and the creative team behind A Most Wanted Man translate his work to the big screen faithfully. They, like le Carré know how to build the mundane to make that one percent that isn’t mundane harrowing.
Wish I Was Here is the movie that Zach Braff partially funded from Kickstarter. He wanted to do that so he could make the movie he wanted – and it’s several steps up from his decent but not quite wonderful Garden State. This is a movie about a man who has wake up and realise that his dream – which he has followed most of his life – needs to be adjusted to the realities of his life with his family. It’s another coming of age tale about a man-child. It’s also pretty good.
An alcoholic English teacher faces off against a partially disabled artist in a challenge to discover which is more powerful – a piece of art, or a piece of prose or poetry. Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche play the agreeably disagreeable pair as they set out to win their students to their respective views.
Annie writes a ‘mommy blog’ and her latest entry is bemoaning the lack of opportunities to have sex with her husband and recalling the way they screwed like bunnies when they were first together. One night she gets the kids off to Grandma’s place for a sleepover, but she and Jay can’t quite get things going until she comes up with the idea of making a private sex tape.
Earth to Echo is not an ET/Super 8/Close Encounters clone. It is deeply influenced by them, but takes the kids-meet-aliens premise and gives it a fresh approach that is surprisingly well thought out.
For Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the great Roger Ebert wrote – in a fine example of restraint, ‘If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.’ For Transformers: Age of Extinction, allow the kid and the choir about an extra fifteen minutes, subtract Shia LaBeouf and add Mark Wahlberg and Dinobots. It wouldn’t hurt to have a little extra seat padding, either. Only the noise kept me from dropping off…
21 Jump Street was an unexpected delight because it mocked every possible aspect of turning an ‘80s cop show into a movie. 22 Jump Street aims to do the same thing for sequels. It’s too bad that when it isn’t being meta, it loses steam – but it’s still a better than average sequel.
The movie adaptation of John Green’s celebrated novel is a darkly comic, epically intimate movie that will make you laugh, cry and think. Take that, blockbuster season!
What would you get if you blended Groundhog Day with military sci-fi of the alien invasion variety? First you’d get the Japanese novel, All You Need is Kill, then you’d get the westernized Tom Cruise vehicle, Edge of Tomorrow (which would have kept its unique, imaginative, original title instead of its current, homogenized one if the movie wasn’t PG-rated).