Friday, April 5, 2013

Movies of 2013 -- April through June

More flash than substance, Stoker is nonetheless an interesting, stylistic horror/suspense film.  The casting and editing are especially affecting, and where the script lacks, the style persists nicely.  Not great, but certainly good.

Strikingly filmed, Trance relies a little too heavily on its what's-real-and-what's-not (PLUS its who's-playing-who) techniques to come together quite satisfactorily, but it's a fun ride until you get there.

This Jackie Robinson biopic had great potential (and some great moments) but  it falls short of where it could have been.  Characters are introduced and dropped without notice, sentimentality is spread on far too thick, and the story seems to imply that ending segregation ended racism.  It's a safe movie about a man whose story is anything but safe.

The Place Beyond The Pines
Though it's not quite as cohesive as I'd like, The Place Beyond The Pines tells its three interconnected stories (each following a different protagonist) in three artfully shot, beautifully performed acts.  Its themes may be a little too broad and its acts may each be a little too long, but this is a film that absolutely sticks with you.  Director Derek Cianfrance (and cinematographer Sean Bobbitt) masterfully build tension in long, tracked shots and beautiful, dialogue-free stretches, and Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper (along with the rest of the cast) turn out remarkable performances.

The Great Gatsby
A surprisingly faithful adaptation, Baz Luhrman's The Great Gatsby still fails to reach the heights of its literary inspiration.  It is flashy, excessive, and over-the-top--and while a great argument could be made that these traits tie in nicely with the themes of the novel, that thread gets lost somewhere.  The oddest decision made in this adaptation is the framing device placing narrator Nick (Tobey Maguire) in a sanitarium, writing the story as a form of therapy.  On one hand, this decision reflects F. Scott Fitzgerald's issues with sanitariums and also gives a cause to include some of his beautiful prose.  On the other, it seems a betrayal of Nick's whole character.

Iron Man 3
As written and directed by Shane Black, Iron Man 3 is almost as reminiscent of his and Robert Downey Jr.'s (excellent) previous film together, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, as it is of the other Iron Man movies.  The cheeky voice-over narration, the witty banter between henchmen, and even the timing all call back to KKBB.  The best decision this film makes is to focus less on the Iron and more on the Man; the suit itself (not unlike girlfriend Pepper Potts and best friends James Rhodes) is relegated mostly to the sidelines of the film, making Iron Man 3 a good exploration of Tony Stark himself.  The weakest decision the film makes is to rely so heavily on the Cute Little Kid as a part of that exploration.  I've never been a fan of that particular trope, and Iron Man 3 has done nothing to change my mind in that regard.  Not as good as the original but certainly better than the first sequel.  Oh, and make sure to stay after the credits.

Star Trek
A fun, fairly light take on the classic series.  The cast remains likeable (if sadly underdeveloped in the minor characters), the effects remain shiny, and the storyline features fun twists and turns.  A good popcorn movie.

Now You See Me
My first true disappointment of the summer movie set.  Fun magic scenes and an admittedly clever ending do not make up for horrendous dialogue, continually stupid police work, and the need to explain every little detail, nuance, and attempt at subtext to the audience.

This Is The End
So dumb.  So funny.

Much Ado About Nothing
Joss Whedon's homemade adaptation of this Shakespeare comedy is full of heart, laughs, and some good old fashioned pratfalls.  Filmed over only a few weeks and all in black and white, Much Ado may not add significantly to the great canon of Shakespeare adaptations, but it's a fun film with some striking performances from Whedon favorites.

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