Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
Is it just me, or has this been an especially lame summer at the movies? Hollywood is dishing up its usual junk-food of robots, super heroes, kiddie (or frat) comedies, and sequels, but even the alternative films have been lackluster. Sure, there have been bright spots, but how many times can a person go back to see Midnight In Paris? And surprise indie charmers like Beginners are few and far between.
Where are all the good movies? As we head into midsummer, let's scan the horizon and find a few upcoming films to dream about.
Sly teen angst comedy 'Submarine' runs out of air
Teen angst is nothing new at the movies, and every micro-generation gets its own version. The latest entry in the why-must-I-be-a-teenager-in-love sweepstakes is Submarine, an often slyly deadpan teen comedy from the chilly seacoast of Swansea, Wales. Laced with wit and sarcasm, it takes its 15-year-old, lovestruck protagonist almost as seriously as he takes himself, although served up with a slice of wry. But while the film gets off to a smart start, it never really gets anywhere, so blinkered by the character's self-absorption that the whole narrative begins to feel claustrophobic.
The film is adapted from the 2008 Joe Dunthorne novel by writer-director Richard Ayoade, a stand-up comedian who has a facility for rapid-fire repartee. Rising young Welsh actor Craig Roberts stars as Oliver Tate.
Coming to terms with life and loss with gusto, ‘Beginners’ is downright charming
Coming of age: it's not just for kids any more. At least that's true for the characters in Mike Mills' winsome, yet sneakily affecting comedy-drama, Beginners. On one hand, Mills explores choices (and compromises) made, roads not taken, and baggage inflicted in the course of one's life, along with a residual legacy of sadness passed through the generations. But the film is also a wryly humorous celebration of love in all its guises, friendship, family bonds, and finding oneself, at any age.
Ewan McGregor is wonderful as protagonist Oliver Fields, a 38-year-old graphic designer in Los Angeles whose romantic relationships never work out. Granted, he's had a lot to process in the last five years, since the death of his beloved mother.
Malick's 'Tree of Life' an uneven, yet visionary original
Don't expect linear storytelling from Terrence Malick. His rapturous last film, The New World, plunged viewers into first contact between English Puritan colonists and native American peoples without a road map, or a translator, or any idea on either side of the customs and culture of the other. Audiences who expected conventional storytelling were dumbfounded; there was no way in except to surrender to the strangeness—as the colonists and tribespeople themselves must have perceived it—and let the experience wash over you.
Malick's new film, The Tree of Life plunges us into more familiar terrain—growing up in suburban Middle America in the second half of the 20th century—and turns it into something strange and mysterious, a metaphor for the eternal search for grace and meaning in life.
J.J. Abrams delivers a powerfully engaging outing
If Stand By Me met a much more modern—if not fierce—E.T. it would resemble something like Super 8. This wildly exciting new film is cleverly written and masterfully directed by J.J. Abrams and it’s one you’re apt to remember for quite some time.
Abrams, you may recall, was responsible for rebooting the Star Trek film franchise a few years back—although whatever happened with that idea is still a mystery—as well as delivering a fascinating turn in the heartpounding Cloverfield. And let’s not forget all the fun he fueled into TV offerings like Alias, Fringe, Lost. But with Super 8, which has Steven Spielberg’s producer stamp on it, Abrams delivers a real surprise: a genuine summer movie event that hearkens back to the days when there actually were, well, summer movies you gave a damn about.