Welcome to the Larry411.com Guest Columnists! April 27, 2013
In my travels to the best film festivals in…
It's mid-August -- and pleasantly air-conditioned multiplexes are packed with blockbuster studio tentpoles and quirky little indies. This lazy, hazy period between June's Los Angeles Film Festival and September's Toronto International Film Festival is the only time of year when I can regularly attend press and preview screenings, so I've been taking advantage of that three to four times per week. Between those movies and the ones now being released that I saw at festivals over the past several months, there's a remarkably high percentage of films currently in theaters which I've seen. As such, I can make some recommendations on 21 movies currently playing.
The Giver -- 5/5 (opening at 3003 locations) -- currently 29% rotten -- See my review + official trailers and music video
The Expendables 3 -- 2/5 (opening at 3221 locations) -- currently 35% rotten -- I think any action can look exciting at five cuts per second. Imagine the days before digital editing. Unfortunately, I couldn't recall one single line of dialogue the next day. I was also heartened at the discovery that blood does not flow when people are shot or stabbed to death, and bombs blowing up in people's faces do not cause limbs to fly. They simply disappear intact. Come to think of it, this movie is a great military recruiting tool. The only redeeming element in this film is Antonio Banderas in kickass comic relief. Who knew?? "The Expendables 3: One more reason to see The Giver" -- Rejected Weinstein tagline but you're welcome to it, Harvey.
Let's Be Cops -- 2/5 (opening at 3094 locations) -- currently 9% rotten -- I can't fairly give this one a full review since, despite several attempts, they couldn't get the sound to work in the first 10 minutes of the film. That's more than 10% of the total, and there are several events which take place in those opening scenes which are then referred to throughout the film and resolved at the end. But if you pretended to be a cop and held a gun to my head, I'd say you're better off seeing one of the many very good movies out right now. And while I don't generally put a lot of stock in the Rotten Tomatoes number, well, it has a 9. 'Nuff said.
Ragnarok -- 4/5 -- See my review and photos of the World Premiere Q&A
Boyhood -- 5/5 (expanding from 507 to 771 locations) -- currently 99% fresh (179 to 2) -- See my interviews with director Richard Linklater and stars Ellar Coltrane & Patricia Arquette, along with photos and a half hour audio of the entire Q&A at the Arclight Hollywood screening on June 16
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles -- 4/5 (expanding from 3845 to 3980 locations) -- currently 20% rotten -- Viacom's big budget entry into the crowded mid-summer tentpole marketplace has much of the broad appeal of Guardians with a (not surprisingly) more kid-friendly sensibility. Instead of hunky Chris Pratt we get curvy Megan Fox, instead of talking raccoons and trees we get adolescent terrapins, and instead of a new world in outer space we get one in subterranean New York. Which comes close. And while both movies are quite adept at mixing drama and humor, TMNT is a great deal lighter and can much more confidently be labeled a comedy than GOTG. No spoilers here so I'll just say that the random cultural references were a big hit with this audience. The budget was reported at $125 million and they squeezed out every penny's worth, much of it at ILM -- and nobody does it better. TMNT is pure fun, with dazzling visual effects, state-of-the-art motion capture, and sound design that gave me goosebumps. I saw it in non-IMAX 3D (conversion), which was better than Hercules but not as good as GOTD in its effectiveness. Save some money and go for the 2D. I had a smile on my face from opening to closing credits.
The Hundred-Foot Journey -- 4/5 (expanding from 2023 to 2043 locations) -- currently 66% fresh (65 to 34) -- See my review + official trailer, poster, and stills
Land Ho! -- 4/5 (expanding from 12 to 31 locations) -- currently 75% fresh (51 to 17)
What If -- 3/5 (expanding from 20 to 786 locations) -- currently 72% fresh (54 to 21) -- It was titled The F Word when I saw it at TIFF 2013 and retains that title for its Canadian release by Entertainment One but changes to What If for its release in the US by CBS Films. See my capsule review and photos of Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, and more at the World Premiere Q&A 2013 Toronto International Film Festival
Words and Pictures -- 3/5 (expanding from 12 to 15 locations) -- currently 42% rotten
Guardians of the Galaxy -- 5/5 (declining from 4088 to 3697 locations) -- currently 92% fresh (199 to 18) -- I'm not big on comparing movies...and I'm certainly not about Hollywood blockbusters as an indie film journalist...but I do see my share of big studio films. Just a few days ago I saw Hercules and wrote favorably about it, and I defended Godzilla even as colleagues were tearing it down. So I'm certainly not averse to enjoying megabudget special effects orgies. That said, I'm one of these guys for whom Star Wars will always be a benchmark against which all other humans-as-superheroes-in-space movies will be measured. What I loved about that film is it created an entire universe, literally, with state-of-the-art special effects, where good fights evil, there's a clearly defined narrative, and, most of all, characters we can laugh at and relate to. It's the latter that is sadly lacking in most of the films which have tried to duplicate Lucas' efforts over the years. They get the others right but lack the humanity (or animality). Guardians has all that. It brought back some of the feelings I had way back when...and, perhaps not ironically, the music, as well. It's no accident that this film's soundtrack is packed with mid-70s pop classics. Marvel gets it right on this one...aurally, visually, and emotionally. Best Hollywood blockbuster I've seen this year.
Earth to Echo -- 5/5 (declining from 217 to 154 locations)
Godzilla -- 4/5 (declining from 178 to 118 locations) -- currently 73% fresh (187 to 70)
The Purge: Anarchy -- 3/5 (declining from 1596 to 575 locations) -- currently 58% fresh (65 to 48)
And So It Goes -- 3/5 (declining from 1111 to 362 locations) -- currently 16% rotten
Wish I Was Here -- 2/5 (declining from 202 to 54 locations) -- currently 41% rotten
Get On Up -- 1/5 (declining from 2469 to 1101 locations) -- See my review
Films coming soon, which I've seen and recommend, many of which are reviewed on this site:
The Notebook, Starred Up (August 29)
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (September 12)
One Chance (October 10)
Why Don't You Play in Hell (October 31)
The Overnighters (November 7)
R100 (December 12)
The Green Inferno (was September 5, now TBD)
You need sign in to comment on entries on Larry411.
In my travels to the best film festivals in…