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Showing posts from September, 2013

Blue Jasmine

Over forty years into his career as a film director, Woody Allen keeps going.  This has become both a kind of grim certainty and, only very rarely, a virtue.  Over the past 15 to 20 years, Allen has been like a man trying to mount a sumptuous feast who finds himself thrashing around in an empty pantry.  In lieu of something fresh, we get warmed-over dishes, whose recipes might not have been such a good idea in the first place.

Since 2005, he has frequently done what had long seemed unthinkable, set and film several of his projects somewhere other than the island of Manhattan.  The first such effort, Match Point (2005), was his strongest in years, imbued with a gravity not seen in a Woody Allen film since Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). Mixed results followed:  Vicki Christina Barcelona (2008), a shiny wet dream of a film; the vastly-overrated Midnight in Paris (2011), a lot of half-baked philosophy, self-indulgence and artistic name-dropping hid behind some lovely artistic design.

The Spectacular Now

Summer.  In many ways the season of youth.  As much in the movie theater as on the beach.  So, perhaps not such a surprise of a high summer that a  film would come along about young love.  The surprise, the irony of The Spectacular Now is that it's every bit as subtle, as substantial, as replete with strong acting as any Oscar bait likely to be released between now and year's end.  Hiding in plain sight among the summer's forgettable fare, for your consideration, The Spectacular Now.

The irony of the film, the third feature of director James Ponsoldt, written by Scott Neaustatder and Michael H. Weber, extends beyond its quality and timing of its appearance.   When the film's title appears on screen a few minutes in - huge block white letter on a black background - it's already apparent that darkness is lurking around the edges of the bright life of high school gadabout Sutter Keely (Miles Teller).

The high school world of The Spectacular Now is one of the many th…

World's End

England, England.  Land of zombies, land of murderous village beautiful crackpots and home, at least in one small town, to alien robots.  So it goes in dear old Blighty through the installments of Edgard Wright's so-called Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy.  The name is, obviously enough, a play on Kieslowski's slightly more serious film trilogy.  During the publicity for Hot Fuzz, someone apparently pointed out to Wright that Cornetto ice cream had made an appearance in both that film and the prior Sean of the Dead.  The ice cream has a cameo in World's End as well.  And if you're into this sort of thing, there's a color coding (if retroactively applied to the earlier films) to the Cornetto in each film to match the theme, or at least the mayhem.
But we're not here to talk about ice cream.  The end of the world is the case, both the the apocalyptic event and a pub of the same evocative name.  Both, as it happens in the film directed by Mr. Wright and written by …