Archive | February, 2014

Gloria

26 Feb
Gloria didn't make the Oscar cut — but it should have

Hats off to Sebastián Lelio for making a movie like Gloria. Films about divorced 50-something women looking to find their later-year footing don’t get made in Hollywood, which is why Gloria was made in Chile. And it’s a departure from Hollywood’s past attempts. Under the Tuscan Sun‘s fantastical whimsy that magically yields romance and revelations about life is something Leilo has no interest in. An Unmarried Woman, which starred Jill Clayburgh back in the ’70s, is a closer comparison, but even that’s a far cry other than offering a strong, liberated woman as the main character.  Continue reading

The Lego Movie

5 Feb

The Lego Movie connects family-friendly fun with adult humor

Block-buster

by 

Only a blockhead wouldn't find a lego-fied Batman dreamyThe Lego Movie, is sharp, smart, and clicks along snappily — at least for the first 80 minutes of the 100-minute running time. It’s also packed with a Lego case full of gags that cut many a wicked laugh. It’s so barbed and adult-oriented in texture and content, the film flirts with the likes of Team America: World Police and South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, yet it holds the family friendly line — a pretty impressive feat, no doubt.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative team who helm the film and had a hand in the script, feed off each other with boon yielding results. Their previous collaborations on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and the live action comedy 21 Jump Street proved their skilled hand in animation and deft comedic pacing. Here they get to fuse those divergent talents. And not only is the comedy on point, but so is the animation, mastering the block-like Lego texture and having it permeate throughout the film with pops of 3D that raise the art of computer animated to a new, sensory titillating level.  Continue reading

Tim’s Vermeer

3 Feb
<i>Tim's Vermeer</i>

During a casual conversation with pals Penn and Teller (yes, the performance comedy team that performs droll acts of sleight-of-hand), Tim Jenison tossed out the idea that the great 17th century painter, Johannes Vermeer, might have generated his masterworks via a controlled methodology—which could conceivably be replicated—and not sheer artistic eye and a deft free hand. Given the movie’s being, that conversation obviously budded into a dare and/or a personal obsession.

Jenison, a quiet, pontificating soul and inventor by trade who made his nut in video software, possesses a bulldog tenacity and keen acumen. He’s the kind of guy who sees a problem and goes off and tinkers until he can remedy it with a working solution. His theory, that Vermeer used a process called “camera obscura” (the projection of a lighted image through a hole in a box or a room to create a smaller inverted rendering on the opposing surface outside the container) as an on canvas guide (think of tracing in its most complex form) for his creations is piquant and intriguing in its infantile illumination. The centuries old technique, now largely a schoolroom experiment, became the foundation for the modern camera and moving pictures. Vermeer, if he employed it, didn’t have any well-oiled machinery or electricity, just light and a hole.  Continue reading

Labor Day

2 Feb

‘Labor Day’: Escaped convict very handy in the kitchen, handsy with his captive

By Tom Meek
January 30, 2014

whitespace

A good meal can solve a lot of things. Leftovers, mixed with canned goods from the pantry, can sate as well – but not so much here in Jason Reitman’s uneven romantic hash chock full of disparate parts, stock elements and daubs of cliche.

013014i Labor Day

Reitman arrived as a quirky indie director with his acerbic big tobacco satire “Thank You for Smoking” (2005) and held the line steadfast with “Juno” (2007) and “Up in the Air” (2009). Even “Young Adult” (2011) bore his droll, punchy fingerprint, which is why “Labor Day” is such a puzzler, a change-up royale and a by-the-numbers affair that lacks air, style or wit.  Continue reading