Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
'Buck' advocates empathy in animal-training and life
How is training horses like life? In just about every way possible, according to the Tao of Buck Brannaman, the self-effacing hero and subject of Buck, an engaging and evocative documentary from filmmaker Cindy Meehl. A modern-day cowboy on the road nine months out of every year conducting four-day horse-training clinics all across the American west, Buck doesn't dispense folksy wisdom, nor indulge in any New Agey, touchy-feely palaver, so much as he talks plain common sense to troublesome horses and their owners. "I don't help people with horse problems," Buck reflects. "I help horses with people problems."
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.