Archive | January, 2014

The Nut Job

17 Jan

‘The Nut Job’: As animated film noir with gangsters, ‘Gangnam Style’ is a mixed bag

By Tom Meek
January 16, 2014

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Who knew that in the city parks across America, all the furry vermin who scuttle, forage and burrow exist in a grand interlocked society built around the process of collecting a communal hoard for hibernation season? As nutty as that might sound (or not), it’s the crux of Peter Lepeniotis’ richly animated misadventure with shades of “The Wind and the Willows” if funneled through a rigorous round of urban planning.

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Much salt and seasoning is added to the archetypal recipe and, as a result, “The Nut Job” is an energetic, yet mixed bag. The impressive 3-D effect adds subtle, enriching depth, and the parallel human story about a bunch of no-neck thugs and their pet pug trying to pull off a bank heist is done with an odd noirish flair. I’m pretty sure that anyone one in the film’s target market of 4 to 10 years old has no idea who Jimmy Cagney was or what a noir is and will be totally wigged out by the vintage cop cars and milk wagons zipping about. Sure, that thing worked with Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes, but their heyday overlapped that of American film noir.  Continue reading

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August: Osage County

11 Jan

‘August: Osage County’: Evil stepsister to ‘Steel Magnolias’ gathers family for a fight

By Tom Meek
January 9, 2014

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There’s plenty of thespian timber and uncorked rage in this austere melodrama about familial dysfunction and reckoning out on the plains of Oklahoma. The emotional turbulence in “August: Osage County” is devastating, so much so you could think of it as an angry twister wreaking havoc across the sleepy farmland or the evil stepsister to “Steel Magnolias,” appropriately shamed and exiled to the prairie for bad behavior.

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If there’s any calm in the film, it’s the the one that comes before the storm, and even that’s not so pretty. It all begins serenely enough as Beverly (Sam Shepard) confesses to Johnna (Misty Upham, as the newly hired house help who has to, by job description, endure the oncoming onslaught passively) that he drinks too much, but that it’s tolerated by his wife because he puts up with her incessant pill popping. Beverly’s a dapper guy with a slight twang and a love for books. No sooner has he presented Johnna with a personal selection (T.S. Eliot) for her to read than his wife, Violet (Meryl Streep), lopes through the door red-eyed, in a bathrobe and hopped up on something. Her hair’s short, matted and falling out. She looks like an extra from a film exposing Nazi atrocities.  Continue reading