Wednesday, November 30, 2016

July 2016 Movie Round Up

Life got in the way majorly this year and so I am very behind on my reviews.  But lets catch up with some movies I saw way back in July!

We Are the Best! (Lukas Moodysson, 2013):  We Are the Best! is one of the most purely joyful movies about being a young teen that I have ever seen.  Klara and Bobo are best friends and wannabe punks in the Stockholm suburbs in 1982.  Bobo may have a single mother who is slightly unstable and Klara’s parents might fight too much, but ultimately they are two happy girls who decide to start a punk band mostly to spite some older boys at the community center who annoy them. There is just one problem, neither girl can play an instrument or read music.  They recruit Hedvig, a Christian girl who is something of a guitar prodigy and they begin preparing for their upcoming gig, a talent show of some kind.  

The details of the plot are unimportant, in fact there isn’t much plot other than that, We Are the Best!  just enjoys hanging out in the presence of the girls and delights in their love of punk, or what they think punk is.  The girls meet a teenage punk band of boys, Hedvig cuts her hair short and they write their one song “Hate the Sport”.  All three girls are wonderful characters and they have a natural glee that is infectious. Mira Barkhammar is particularly wonderful as Bobo, the smallest and most awkward of the three girls.  In the wrong hands Bobo could have been almost a tragic character, her aforementioned mother is a mess, she “cheats” with Klara’s “boyfriend” (by cheats, I mean goes to his house and talks with him) and is unhappy with her role as drummer.  Instead, Bobo is the movie’s heart, she is clever, sweet and endearing.  We Are the Best! is a lark of the best kind.  And you won’t stop singing “Hate the Sport” for weeks.  

Hail, Caesar! (2016, Joel and Ethan Coen): I watched this movie on a plane, and it was the perfect plane movie for a fairly bumpy flight.  I am not the worst flyer but having this ridiculous and entertaining ode to Hollywood made the anxiety of turbulence melt away.  Eddie Manix (Josh Brolin) is an executive at a movie studio in 1951, he loves his job but is contemplating taking a new, less demanding position with an aerospace company. 

In the course of a few days, we see Eddie help DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johannsen) deal with an unplanned pregnancy, set up two young starlets and most of all, try to solve the mystery of the missing Baird Whitlock (George Clooney).  Alden Ehrenreich is utterly adorable and captivating as Hobie Doyle, a cowboy actor moving into an upper class romantic comedy, his fish out of water sweetness and unfailing desire to please director Laurence Laurent (Ralph Fiennes, pitch perfect) is a wonderful combination and his set up with Hispanic actress Veronica Osorio has a undeniable romantic spark.  

Anyone with familiarity with the Coen Brothers may miss some of the biting darkness of  many of their films, Hail, Caesar!, shows the seedy underbelly of Hollywood but it is just so damn charming that I was enchanted.  Channing Tatum’s dance number that becomes increasingly and ridiculously homoerotic had me giggling and I loved Tilda Swinton in duel roles as twin sister gossip columnists.  Hail, Caesar! isn’t going to go down as one of the Coen’s best films, but it is a great way to spend a couple hours.  If you can, make it a double feature with Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels, its spiritual predecessor. 

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016, Dan Trachtenberg): To be honest, 10 Cloverfield Lane kind of went exactly where I thought it would (I am a canny movie predictor) but although predictable, I enjoyed this nifty little thriller until it becomes a “Cloverfield” movie in the last ten minutes.  Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is running away from her fianc√© and is involved in a car accident in the middle of nowhere.  She wakes up chained to a bed but also with her wounds tended to. Her captor is Howard (John Goodman), who claims to be her saviour, telling her he saved her from the car after she was in an accident and that the world has been taken over by some kind of catastrophic event.  She’s lucky, really, that he will let her stay there with him and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), who knew about the underground shelter and begged Howard to let him in.  From there, the story goes exactly where you think it will, flipping from suspecting Howard to trusting him and back again.  The idea of taking a small story in the face of the apocalypse is clever, the tension builds appropriately and the shit hits in the fan in the end satisfyingly.  Winstead and Gallagher have good chemistry and are strong enough but Goodman is great, playing someone clearly with social problems, perhaps with much deeper ones. I wish the movie had ended about ten minutes earlier and continued as a chamber piece and character study.  

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