Sunday, June 22, 2014

We Are The Best!

   A new Indie film from Swedish director Lukas Moodysson, captures youthful rebellion in all it's joy and heartbreak. Taking place in Stockholm circa 1982, this is the story of Klara and Bobo, two 13 year old non-conformist girls who decide to start a punk rock band even though they have no idea how to play music.

    Considered outsiders and weird at their school, they find happiness at a local youth center thrashing around a set of drums and a bass guitar. When they actually write a song, they decide to become serious about the music and enlist the aid of Hedvig, a 14 year old loner who can actually play guitar. They form an all girl punk trio, still without much talent but plenty of spirit.
The three leads, Mira Barkhammar (Bobo), Mira Grosin (Klara) and Liv LeMoyne (Hedvig) are just terrific and perfectly cast. Ms. Barkhammar and Ms. Grosin, in particular, have great chemistry and talent to spare.

     Part coming of age drama, part musical, the film celebrates teen spirit with humor and grit. Boys threaten to break them apart and parents don't understand them but the girls determination lead them on. I would have liked even more musical performances but it's still a joy to watch. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

22 Jump Street

     Jonah Hill & Channing Tatum return in this predictable yet fresh sequel to "21 Jump Street". Predictable since they basically do the same film again although now they are undercover in college rather than High School. Fresh because they are self deprecating and constantly making fun of the fact they are doing a sequel.

     The twist this time is that the "bromance" may be over but the chemistry between the two actors still holds the film together. The jokes remain crude but the tongue in cheek gags are very funny even if they sometimes get lost in the toilet humor. The story itself is too long and the film feels like two movies stitched together but it's worth it just to get to the credits for a look at the imagined sequels to come.

      Ice Cube returns as the foul mouthed police captain in charge of Jump Street division. This time out he is given more to do and is obviously enjoying spoofing himself. There are a few surprise cameos but the film belongs to Mr. Tatum and Mr. Hill who are funny throughout.

      If you enjoyed the first film, you won't be disappointed. And if you don't catch it in the theater, they are already advertising the DVD...coming out any minute.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

     Director Doug Liman really knows how to hold your interest. This new action adventure is a science fiction "Groundhog's Day" and it easily could have become repetitive and silly. In Mr. Liman's capable hands however, he manages to keep things fresh and moving despite the repetitive nature of the story. 

      The most important element to it's success however is it's star. Tom Cruise is just terrific in one of his best roles in years. Here he plays against type to start and grows into the hero role guided by his equally terrific co-star, Emily Blunt. Mr. Cruise is at his most charming and yet conveys a genuine vulnerability we usually don't see in his action films. Ms. Blunt has come a long way from "The Devil Wears Prada" becoming an action hero in her own right. 

      The film co-stars Bill Paxton as a tough talking sergeant stuck in Mr. Cruise's repetitive loop as well as Brendon Gleeson as the General who sets things in motion. Noah Taylor plays the requisite scientist who knows the truth and how to defeat the enemy. There is also a ragtag group of soldiers all played by fresh faced actors that support Mr. Cruise.


 The special effects are quite good and the film is fast paced and very exciting. The premise is a bit far fetched by this is a summer blockbuster so just go with it. You will be very entertained.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Million Ways to Die in The West

   If you are expecting this generation's Blazing Saddles, you will be disappointed. Although there is one scene that completely out grosses the famous campfire scene in that classic. Writer/ director Seth McFarlane straddles the line between a sweet comedic story and outright crude silliness never really committing to either one. 


   There are some good laughs, especially due to surprise cameos but Mr.McFarlane would have been better served letting someone else direct his material. He overplays too many jokes and they lose their effectiveness. He is also obsessed with western vistas as scene after scene of endless wide angle background shots go on forever. I get the satire of a few shots but they just keep coming with no discernible end. 


     It's a fun cast that seem to be enjoying themselves as well as serving the audience. Some of the scenes between Charlize Theron and Mr.McFarlane appear improvised and they crack each other up quite a bit. Liam Neeson makes a good villain and Sarah Silverman is perfectly cast as a foul mouthed prostitute...with good Christian morals (you will understand when you see it). Neil Patrick Harris steals every scene he is in besides stealing the heart of Amanda Seyfried.


     I could have done without the few racist jokes (although one in very poor taste is redeemed during the credits). Fans of Seth McFarlane will find the film critic proof and probably hysterically funny. I thought it could have been funnier.