Steve Coogan returns to the character that made him kind of famous in America and really, really famous in England. This feature-film update finds the titular character working in local radio and getting on Colm Meaney's bad side. Hilarity, etc. ensues. Recommended to those fans of Ricky Gervais who aren't already also fans of Steve Coogan.
Quentin Tarantino called Big Bad Wolves "the best film of the year", which certainly raised the profile of this shocking, violent, semi-suspenseful semi-comedy. Critical reaction was generally positive, although it included it's share of "There's little to the movie other than shocks and gross-outs" (Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald) and "The most novel thing about this Israeli torture extravaganza is that writer-directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado play the grisly material for broad comedy." (Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader) So, you know, not for everybody.
Writer/Director Randy Moore's debut feature is a psychological horror film set at Walt Disney World. Per Wikipedia "It drew attention because Moore had shot most of it on location at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland without permission from The Walt Disney Company, owner and operator of both parks. Due to Disney's reputation of being protective of its intellectual property, the cast and crew used guerrilla filmmaking techniques to avoid attracting attention, such as keeping their scripts on their iPhones and shooting on handheld video cameras similar to those used by park visitors." Critical response was varied: IndieWIRE's Eric Kohn loved it, "A labyrinthine descent into the grotesque extremes of a Disneyfied society, Escape From Tomorrow is surreal for many reasons and wholly original because of them. It's also a daring attempt to literally assail Disney World from the inside out," while the Washington Post did not, "Juvenile, disjointed and pointlessly revolting at times, although there are a few moments of disturbingly stark visual beauty."
One of filmdom's great near-misses, super-cult-favorite (and allegedly John Lennon's favorite director) Alejandro Jodorowsky launched production on a massive adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune in 1975. The movie was never completed, but the documentary about it is a fascinating portrait of the just-as-excentric-as-you'd-expect Jodorowsky among other things. Try it as part of a triple-feature with Jodorowsky classics Holy Mountain and El Topo, or with fellow failed-making-of documentaries Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno and Lost in La Mancha.
A hit at the 2014 Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival, the critical narrative surrounding Joe seems to be Nicolas Cage's re-discovered acting ability: "For Nicolas Cage... Joe is more than a rescue - it's a re-birth" (Bob Mondello, NPR); "his most committed performance in years" (Stephen Holden, New York Times); "Cage surprises you" (Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald); "Cage's periodic reminder that he's one of his generation's great talents" (Amy Nicholson, Village Voice); pretty much every review featured a line like that. And it's true that he'd been in danger of becoming something like a joke to the average filmgoer, and it's true that he's really good in Joe, but don't let it distract you from the young Tye Sheridan (Mud), who also gives a great performance. Or, for that matter, from director David Gordon Green whose 2013 two-fer (Joe plus Prince Avalanche) helped re-establish his as a major name in the American indie scene after an admittedly brief and mostly successful and presumably ongoing foray into big-budget Hollywood comedy.
Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan and Jeff Goldblum star in this romantic drama from Roger Michell, the director of Notting Hill and Hyde Park on Hudson. Rottentomatoes' synopsis calls it "a magically buoyant and bittersweet film" in which "Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan play a long-married couple who revisit Paris for a long weekend for the first time since their honeymoon, in hopes of rekindling their relationship". So if you like movies that are magically buoyant or bittersweet, chances are you'll like this.
Ho hum. Just another great 2013 documentary. The Crash Reel chronicles snowboard legend Kevin Pearce's rivalry with Shaun White, his life-threatening crash and his determination to get back to snowboarding, even though it could kill him. An audience favorite at numerous film festivals across the country and the opening night gala selection at Sundance.
A new Wong Kar-Wai movie is always cause for cinephile rejoicing, and The Grandmaster - while not his finest work - is no exception. International superstar Tony Leung stars as Ip Man, a real-life historical figure and Bruce Lee's mentor. There is another recent, creatively unrelated series of films about Ip Man that have also been hits.
The Lego Movie is the top-grossing movie released so far in 2014. With $254,514,488 to its credit at the domestic box office, you've probably already seen it, but if not... hey, why not get it from the library? Curiously enough, $254,514,488 is not evenly divisible by $13, which seems to be what I'm charged whenever I go to the multiplex.
July is shaping up to be a major windfall for martial arts fans. Ong Bak's Tony Jaa is back (whew! internet rumor was that he disappeared into the jungle with a good portion of the Ong Bak 3 budget and some were worried he might never show up again, let alone make another movie) for a second turn as The Protector (aka Tom Yum Goong). Last time he broke what must have been a record number of elbows when bad guys stole his pet elephant (no joke, they were going to cook it and serve it in some kind of super-exclusive underground Thai endangered species restaurant). For the sequel, there are elephants again, more jaw-dropping, bone-crunching Muay Thai action and Wu Tang's RZA, for some reason. Unlike the supremely disappointing Ong Baks 2 and 3, director Prachya Pinkaew is back for this one, so - seriously - get excited. Jaa is the screen's best martial artist since Bruce Lee.