Making the world safe for filmgoers since 2002.
Since its initial publication in 1933, Vera Britain’s TESTAMENT OF YOUTH has never been out of print, and the film version is a sterling adaptation of that memoir of World War I. Starring Alicia Vikander as Britain, it’s a sweeping, wrenching view of the physical and psychic devastation that war wrought on the generation that fought the war, and their families at home. Vikander gives a powerful performance as a woman refusing to be constrained by the conventions of her time, or to be broken by the personal losses she sustained as the sister, friend, and fiancee of soldiers, or the horrors she witnessed as a nurse at the front lines. If you haven’t already, check out Vikander in another sort of role as the artificial intelligence playing cat and mouse with the humans around her in EX MACHINA (interview with writer/director Alex Garland can be heard here).
LOVE & MERCY is one of the best films about genius struggling to cope with the real world I’ve ever seen. Based on the life of The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, it stars Paul Dano and John Cusack (Oscar(tm) contenders both) as the younger and older Wilson respectively, as it externalizes the music in Wilson’s head, and uses a fluid timeline to attempt to understand his emotional demons. My interview with director Bill Pohlad is here.
There was a kerfuffle recently when it was decreed that Maggie Gyllenhaal, at 35, was too old to be the cinematic love interest of a co-star in his 50s. I say FEH to that, and heartily recommend a film about a woman in her 70s discovering a new world of possibilities in Brett Haley’s I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS. Blythe Danner is funny, poignant, sexy, and endearing as the widow reluctantly wooed by a smoldering Sam Elliot. My interview with Haley is here.
There is room in my heart for studio films and SPY is an excellent example of why. This re-teaming of Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy is both funny AND smart. McCarthy plays a desk-bound CIA agent finally getting her chance in the field, and seeing her gift for comedy coupled with Feig’s writing a woman who is capable and unapologetic about it, is not just fun, it’s empowering. Plus, as I’ve said many times, Jason Statham makes every film better, and he’s never been more appealing as an overly intense lunkhead with his own agenda. My review of SPY is here. My interview with the always sartorially resplendent Feig for his work with McCarthy in THE HEAT is here.
I wanted to love JURASSIC WORLD more than I did. The story is fairly pedestrian, save for a rampaging dinosaur in the throes of an existential crisis, but Jake Johnson provides much appreciated comic relief as the control room drone who is the voice of reason, and Bryce Dallas Howard is nothing less than impressive running through the jungle while balancing on four-inch heels that never break, nor slip off her dainty feet. Director Colin Trevorrow does a credible job in this, his sophomore effort. I liked his first film, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED better, as you can tell from my interview with him for that film, the which you can access by clicking here.