Saturday, August 23, 2014

The One I Love

In one line of the film, the Twilight Zone is referenced. Good idea - just stay in that mindset. This is a soft, elegant comedy about people who don't really get along anymore but don't know what to do. They go to a marriage therapist and try. But because the trust is gone, the going is rough. I say it is a comedy because I laughed more during this than I do at most SNL skits. But it is also a film with a very interesting and sci-fi sort of premise- and to explain it would ruin it for you. It is very well written- though the premise is, for the curmudgeons, ludicrous, it is also inventive and fun to watch unfold. It was nothing like what we thought it would be, and we almost didn't go- I am so glad I didn't miss it. Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Mark Duplass (you've probably never seen him) play all 4 of the characters. The setting is beautiful. Special thanks were given to Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen- it could have been their house for all I know. We went to dinner after and talked about the logistics of the premise for quite a while. They could have done more to help explain it- it is explained in 20 seconds of dialogue near the end. But oh well- it was very nicely acted and very well written, and that is enough sometimes.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Though this violates the "say it in under 2 hours or get a new editor" rule, it still keeps you in your seat and entertained for a full 2 hours and 45 minutes. You heard me. But since it uses the same actors over a 12 year period, if you get bored, you can simply spend some time looking for all the physical differences in the actors that occured over the 12 year span. Richard Linklater used the 6 year old Ellar Coltrane in the lead, and used him for 12 years.  He used Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, too. The story is gentle. Despite some marital violence, some divorces and a little bullying here and there, there are no horrible moments or surprises. It's just the way the story goes with Ellar Coltrane in the lead. There are moments we all could identify with. And, there are moments were are grateful we never had. Unlike a lot of movies, I think this one will translate well to the on demand feature on your cable. You don't need to rush out and see it despite the glowing reviews. In fact, because of its length, it might best be viewed in 2 or even 3 sittings.  Sitting through the credits we saw the name of one of my daughter's former classmates as "band member #3".  Ethan Hawke does a great job as a father who had disappeared for a year but comes back to be in his children's lives. We hate him for being such a ne'er do well, but then we grow to like him because he truly loves his kids and tries. In many ways, though he is the one who seems least dependable, he is the one who is the refuge his kids can depend upon. Patricia Arquette plays a mother who has to be beaten to discover she has a huge problem with liking jackass alcoholics who try to be authoritarians with the kids. She lets them. Her peacemaking almost gets her killed. It takes her years to wise up. The kids in this are so likable. It leaves you with some thinking to do.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

 What a slam bang 3D sci-fi movie! Lots of action, some really funny lines, a silly (of course) premise, a talking raccoon, a tree with a limited vocabulary, a few alien women with attitudes and Chris Pratt (not to be confused with Chris Pine).  They take on bad guys, and it all revolves around an orb with some magic powers- which really is just a device to move things along.  It's been a long time since the first Star Wars, and boy, the special effects are non-stop and really fantastic. I can see how it has made so much money. Don't sit too close- I think that is part of the trick. Our 3D glasses made the movie so dark that in some scenes, I had to take mine off. If you watch Halt and Catch Fire on AMC, you will enjoy seeing Lee Pace in the role of Ronan the Accuser. Even if you don't recognize him, you'll recognize his voice. If you like sci-fi action movies with plenty of shooting and some sly jokes, you'll like it. I am giving it 3 stars because I think it was a lot of fun. I took a star off for it being so dark that it was hard to see the action.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Get On Up

Ahhhhh, I feel good, nanananananana...etc. Not bad. Not bad at all. Chadwick Boseman (42, Draft Day) plays James Brown in the biopic , which, for once, is close enough to the true story to be worth seeing. Boseman does a fabulous job following in the huge footsteps of Gretchen Mol in Bettie Page,  Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis, Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash,  Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, and Will Smith as Mohammed Ali.  Boseman sings the songs and dances the dance, and he is phenomenal. I think that it is of note that Nelsan Ellis (everybody's favorite Lafayette on True Blood) is fantastic as Byrd, Brown's sort of whipping boy who was a performer in his own right but was sabotaged in real life by Brown just to keep Byrd in the background. Only once or twice did I think "Hey there's Lafayette", which means he was doing a great job. I would not be surprised to see Ellis nominated for Best Supporting Actor- he highly deserves it.  Yet again, the white man is evil- and the film tries at least to compensate for it by painting an overly sentimentalized version of Brown's manager, Ben Bart- played by Dan Ackroyd. By the time Bart died, Brown and Bart weren't on the best of terms, even  though Bart was certainly a father to Brown in many ways.  Knowing the horrors of Brown's childhood and adolescence, it is reasonable to assume that we are lucky he was only a quasi-violent, wife beating entertainer as opposed to a mass murderer. There is almost no way a person could have that sort of beginning and not pay for it the rest of his life. But James Brown tried- and in many ways, he succeeded.  It certainly is a movie that leaves you wondering if James Brown would have been greater had he not had such a hard childhood, or would he have become nothing without it.