Archive for the ‘Now See This’ Category

Because some things demand your immediate attention

Moonrise Kingdom Movie

Moonrise Kingdom (d. Wes Anderson)

****1/2

I’ll be the first to admit that I had grown tired of Wes Anderson’s schtick.  The Darjeeling Limited left me cold and The Fantastic Mr. Fox was, at most, a pleasant diversion and departure from the director’s norm.  More and more, it seemed that Anderson was telling the same story over and over again with different shades of the same characters.  He had become, to my reckoning, a hipster version of Woody Allen.

So, it is with no shame that I admit to being somewhat reticent to check out the latest from the auteur.  But with little else to do on a hot, Sunday afternoon I found myself near a theater showing the film and decided to give it a shot.  I’m glad I did.  What I saw was undoubtedly Anderson’s best since Rushmore and it runs a pretty close second to that highly regarded movie.

The success of the film is owed in large measure to the fact that Anderson chose to eschew using his usual (and admittedly reliable) cast of actors. Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman are present in minor roles but there isn’t a Wilson to be found in the too short 90 minute running time.  In their place, you’ll find Bruce Willis and Edward Norton in delightful supporting parts.  The real stars of the feature however are young Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, both in their motion picture debuts.  They play Sam and Suzy, young kids in the throes of puppy love.  Their courtship is the heart of the movie and there wasn’t a single moment of it that rang untrue. 

Anderson has made a career of  telling stories of stunted man-children trying to deal with issues both fraternal and paternal.  With Sam and Suzy, he tells a simple little love story free of pretensions and wholly innocent.  It was a breath of fresh air and renewed my interest in any future offerings from one of film’s most accomplished storytellers.

Moonrise Kingdom is most likely playing at a theater near you.  It’s a real charmer and easily the best film I’ve seen so far this year.

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Because some things demand your immediate attention

The Raid:  Redemption (d. Gareth Evans)

****

The poster just about says it all.  “The Best Action Movie in Decades!”  Sensationalistic and hyperbolic?  Yes. True?  Quite possibly.

Gareth Evans is a Welsh director making Indonesian movies.  There might seem to be a bit of a disconnect but that is not the case.  While in the country filming a documentary about the fighting style known as Silat, Evans discovered Iko Uwais.  Impressed by the man’s charisma and skill, Evans cast him in his first martial arts film, Merantau.  Merantau was well received on the festival circuit and a subsequent collaboration was planned.

That follow-up is the film I’m so eager for you to see.  The Raid is exactly what it claims to be.  It’s balls to the wall action and adrenaline from the get go with no apologies asked for and no quarter given.  There is a perfunctory introduction to our various players, both good and evil, that serves to create some pathos and to establish motivations but at about the 15 minute mark, none of that really matters anymore.  Bones are about to broken.  Blood is about to be shed.  And you’re going to see stuff you’ve never seen before.

There’s not as much pure martial arts to be found here as in the duo’s previous film but there are enough fists of fury to satisfy any fan of that genre.  If you’re looking for some kind of reference point, think of it as a mirror image of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 or maybe a reverse-Under Seige…except it’s in a building.

I don’t know what else to tell you.  If you like action flicks, you WILL like this movie.  Hell, you may even love it.

I did.