Once upon a time, a long, long time ago. There was a fairy princess, who married a character actor with weird hair. As she aged, she aspired for more, until she finally became a force to be reckoned with. But standing in her way was a lanky animator with an overdeveloped sense of potty humor. That is how Maleficent met MacFarlane. And they then both died in the west.
Welcome back to the BSR! Weekend Movie Previews. This one is for the weekend of May 30, 2014. As always, before we get started, a quick disclaimer. All of the film information presented here, including the plot summary, has been pulled from the Opening This Week page of IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/nowplaying/). I have not seen any of these movies at the time of this writing. Join us this week as we preview Maleficient, A Million Ways To Die In The West, Filth, and more.
PG 97 min - Action | Adventure | Family | Fantasy | Romance
Director: Robert Stromberg
Stars: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Imelda Staunton
Summary: A vindictive fairy is driven to curse an infant princess only to realize the child may be the only one who can restore peace.
Thoughts: Ok, right up front, I am not a big fan of Angelina Jolie, but I love, love, love Sharlto Copley – his Murdock in the A-Team movie was borderline transcendent. And he was the best things about District 9 and Elysium. He was just okay in Europa Report, but that is about par for that movie. I have heard a lot of non-positive things about this movie, and that kinda saddens me – the trailers were starting to grow on me, especially the big, cool looking tree monster.
A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)
R 116 min - Comedy | Western
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried
Summary: As a cowardly farmer begins to fall for the mysterious new woman in town, he must put his new-found courage to the test when her husband, a notorious gun-slinger, announces his arrival.
Thoughts: Westerns are inherently really funny. It takes a great director to overcome that silliness. Seth MacFarlane is not that director, which is probably why it is good that this is a comedy. Ok, full disclosure, I have really horrible taste in comedy films. I will bend over backwards to find something to like in an Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell movie. In fact, I firmly believe that Step Brothers is film as art. I don’t expect A Million Ways To Die in the West to be great, but I do expect there to be something, somewhere in that will make me laugh.
Night Moves (2013)
R 112 min - Drama | Thriller
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard, Alia Shawkat
Summary: Three radical environmentalists look to execute the protest of their lives: the explosion of a hydroelectric dam.
Thoughts: If I hadn’t read the Summary above, I would have no idea what this film is about. And it looks like a total downer. Not that that is a bad thing or anything. And where has Peter Sarsgaard been lately. It seems like he hasn’t been in anything since Garden State (it almost looks like he is playing the same character in this movie). And is Jesse Eisenberg purposefully playing against type, or are these dark, obsessive unlikable characters actually his type?
R 97 min - Comedy | Crime | Drama
Director: Jon S. Baird
Stars: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Imogen Poots
Summary: A bipolar, bigoted junkie cop manipulates and hallucinates his way through the festive season in a bid to secure promotion and win back his wife and daughter.
Thoughts: Finally, the true backstory of Professor X. Who would have thought that when Mr. Tumnus the fawn first danced onto screens in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe that he would become one of our most favorite wheelchair bound mutant superhero role models. This movie looks like a total blast, and very much in the spirit of Trainspotting. On the definite must-see list.
We Are the Best! (2013) - [Limited]
102 min - Drama
Director: Lukas Moodysson
Stars: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne, Johan Liljemark
Summary: Three girls in 1980s Stockholm decide to form a punk band -- despite not having any instruments and being told by everyone that punk is dead.
Thoughts: This looks like deliriously fun filmmaking. Full of personality, heart, joy, and attitude. Everything it should be. The exact kind of film that ‘Hollywood’ doesn’t understand how to make anymore.
R 84 min - Documentary | History | News | War
Director: Sebastian Junger
Stars: Juan 'Doc Restrepo, Dan Kearney, Misha Pemble-Belkin, Miguel Cortez
Summary: Korengal picks up where Restrepo left off; the same men, the same valley, the same commanders, but a very different look at the experience of war.
Thoughts: I have not seen Restrepo, but feel like maybe I should because the concept (which I may misunderstand in this situation) of doing a series of documentaries covering the same events, but from different perspectives is very cool. Documentaries, for the most part, are a real crap shoot – is it as pure as can be, or is it agenda driven. Doing several, though, that just let the story evolve from the differing viewpoints is the way to make it closer to art.
The Grand Seduction (2013) - [Limited]
PG-13 113 min - Comedy
Director: Don McKellar
Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Brendan Gleeson, Liane Balaban, Gordon Pinsent
Summary: The small harbor of Tickle Cove is in dire need of a doctor so that the town can land a contract to secure a factory which will save the town from financial ruin. Village resident Murray French (Gleeson) leads the search, and when he finds Dr. Paul Lewis (Kitsch) he employs - along with the whole town - tactics to seduce the doctor to stay permanently.
Thoughts: It looks like Doc Hollywood Goes to Newfoundland. Not sure why they thought a movie featuring the very bland Taylor Kitsch, after he sucked all of the life out of the John Carter film, was a good idea. Still... Brendan Gleeson.
And finally, before turning it over to all of you to not post in the comments section, I wanted to share a few words about the recent loss of our very own Jeff Vice. As Jerk-bot on BSR! he was the resident primary film critic, as well as covering weekly recaps on several TV shows, including the awesome Fargo. I did not know him very well, but in my short time on BSR! with him, he was super supportive and I was very much looking forward to getting to know him better while working obliquely with him here. My brief connection to him showed me a very sharp mind and a huge heart, and those kinds of people are so very rare. He will be missed deeply. If you have not read the moving and lovely memorial to him by Bryan Young (Swank-mo-tron), then please do.
Now, it’s your turn - if you have seen any of these movies, let us know your thoughts in the comments.