Co-written and directed by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, “This Is the End” is by far the comedy of the summer, one that will stay under the radar until you hear about it from enough friends, so let me be the first to say GO SEE THIS MOVIE.
For 107 minutes, you’ll laugh, you’ll break out in fits of laughter til it hurts, and you may piss yourself a little. “This Is the End” is the kind of movie that “The Hangover” was before anyone thought to
go see a dude from “The Office” and a dude from “Wedding Crashers” with Zack Galifianakis. In “This Is the End” there are only celebrities, most of whom you know already, or will know, since they all play themselves.
The Summer Blockbuster film season has kicked off with the release of Shane Black’s “Iron Man 3.” As the first stand alone Avengers film, “Iron Man 3″ is unique as the plot explores the post-Avengers life of Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), and while this is the first of three films leading up to “Avengers 2″ in 2015, there is no plot progression towards this end. The result is intense character exploration of Stark and the dilemma that surrounds superheroes as their double life progresses. Like most superheroes in their third film of a trilogy, the alter ego is having a crisis of conscience/health as filling the role has become a burden both physically and mentally. In that sense, “Iron Man 3″ is similar to “The Dark Knight Rises” and nearly as good a film.
When people say ‘The book is better than the movie’, they’re usually right. I wish I’d read “Life of Pi” before seeing it, because even though the film is visually stunning and absolutely incredible in telling this story, the prospect of the book being better is intriguing, to say the least. Ang Lee takes a tale of tragedy and survival and applies the most vivid lens imaginable,
The plot, while slightly far-fetched, stretches the imagination of the viewer, as we are taken through what looks like a completely plausible story once the tale carries on. A young Indian boy named Pi (Suraj Sharma) is moving across the Pacific Ocean to Canada, with his family and their zoo animals that will be sold upon arrival.
Silver Linings Playbook is probably the best romantic comedy in recent memory. I say that because I don’t watch romantic comedies, so when one is nominated for an Oscar, I’m interested. And I really did enjoy the film, especially the ensemble acting that combined two generations of actors and all points in between. There’s a lot of emotion and weight to the film, keeping you invested in the outcome, enough to justify award nominations, but not awards.
Bradley Cooper is Pat, just released from a mental hospital and looking to reconnect with his estranged wife, and coping with bi-polar disorder and treatment. He meets Tiffany through a friend, and starts the ‘who’s more fucked up?’ type relationship. Her husband was killed and she took to sleeping around to cope with the loss. They meet and worlds collide, then mesh, then lead to the big event of the film – a dance competition. While this winds up being a great story line, the twist that comes closer to the end makes it even more interesting, fully grasping your attention and leaving a pleased disposition on all.
I have never seen any of the live action shorts that are nominated for an Oscar, at least intentionally, before the Oscars ceremony. Knowing that the Spectrum 8 Theatre offered a chance to see these films – as well as the animated shorts – I took advantage to see some of the rarer films that were considered the best of the best in 2012.
With intermittent breaks with Luke Matheny, who won in 2011 for the short “God of Love,” we gain an idea of what smaller filmmakers are like and how their experience is at the Oscars in this overshadowed category. Three of these films deal with death, while four of them deal with finding your purpose in life. In two of the five where these themes overlap, we have what I would consider the two front runners for Oscar.
“Death of a Shadow” (Belgium/France)
A devil-like figure’s art gallery is filled with the shadows of the dead. These are killed by a photographer, Nathan Rijckx, who was killed during World War I but given a second chance if he can capture 10,000 shadows to replace him. Nathan has a crisis of conscience as he finds his true love Sarah who was left behind when he was killed. Faced with the choice to take her new love away, he sacrifices himself so she can be happy.
An aging piano player copes with the death of his wife and coming to terms with reality, in what might as well be a companion piece to the Best Picture nominee “Amour.” This film was touching, but deeply sad and depressing, and a look at producer/writer/director Yan England’s own experiences with his grandfather, Maurice England.
Best Picture Oscar nominee and likely winner “Argo” is one of the most engrossing films I have seen in quite sometime. Using the backdrop of the dramatic rescue of six American embassy staffers during the Iranian Revolution in 1980, “Argo” has a truly great story and riveting excitement throughout the film. The scenes that are recreated look incredibly similar to the actual scenes from that day; stay put for the first part of the credits to see proof of the authenticity sought in the making of this film.
Ben Affleck serves as director, producer and actor in this film, and although he was snubbed for an Oscar nomination, he has received virtually every award he has been nominated for, and rightly so. The directing takes you at a fast pace, showing the urgency of the escape that is needed. While it feels sped up, the quick cuts to ADD-fueled thoughts and thought processes allow you to get in the head of the CIA operative Tony Mendez (Affleck), who is tasked with getting the embassy staffers out of Iran. The Canadian ambassador and his wife take in the six captives and give them a place to stay and hide until they cannot wait any longer. The six are instructed by Mendez to take on their new identities as Canadian filmmakers and learn the plot to help them escape, cope with the risks and finally succeed. Even though you know the outcome before heading into the theater (you don’t recall a tragedy named “Argo,” do you?) you are still following along with breathless attention. The style of the filming – with 35mm film blown up to fill the screen – puts the action right in your face and appears larger than life, which for the characters in the movie, and in real life, the experience truly was.
Love is the name and theme of “Amour,” the Palme D’Or winner at Cannes and one of the year’s best foreign films throughout America and Europe. Written and directed by Michael Haneke (“The White Ribbon”), the film follows an elderly couple, retired from years of teaching music and enjoying their later years, until Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) suffers a stroke, leading her husband Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) to take care of her in a most patient and caring manner.
While it may sound depressing, the film is more a show of the long term effects of a relationship and the love within that does not cease or fade when faced with the beginnings of the end of life. The truest form of love, one that is unwavering in the face of the final stages of life, coupled with Georges’ calculated and paced tending to of his wife as she slowly falls victim to the affects of her multiple strokes is the truest definition of love and justifies the boldly named film.
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva are far from household names in America, but in France, they are two of the nation’s finest actors, and I would go so far as to compare Trintignant to Jack Nicholson and Riva to Jessica Tandy, both for their patient, calm and reserved demeanors, particularly in their later years. Both are capable of drawing your attention to their every line, their movement and particularly the emotion in their eyes, drawing you in deep enough that it feels as though you are in this large Paris apartment where one half of a couple takes care of the other half as though it were a routine part of life, sans argument or debate.
Offensive humor is an art perfected by Bob Odenkirk and Peter Farrelley throughout their comedy histories. For their latest film, “Movie 43,” they’re joined by nearly a dozen additional co-directors, continuing in the tradition of the 1970s classic “Kentucky Fried Movie” and their Zucker-Zucker-Abrams forefathers.
Dennis Quaid pitches a script for an incredibly loose and offensive movie that has no core plot. This is the actual plot of “Movie 43″: there’s a bunch of 3-15 minute shorts coming up. And thus begins the laughing… if you’re into that sort of thing.