Drama

The Way Way Back

It’s the end of September, and I am already on my Hallowe’en horror grind.  It is taking a lot out of me to push back some great horror posts in favour of something a little more reminiscent of the waning Summer.

From Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, names you’ll recognize from The Descendants, comes the “coming of age” summer flick, The Way Way Back.  It’s just what you need to hold on the fleeting feeling of pool days.

Duncan, 14, goes on summer vacation with his mom, her overbearing boyfriend, and his daughter. Behind everyone’s back, he gets a job at the local water park, Water Wizz and befriends the “man child” of an owner, Owen.

Duncan’s self esteem is shot by his mother’s boyfriend, and the pretty girl next door.  At Water Wizz, he makes some unlikely friends and finds some purpose.

A recognizable cast including Steve Carell as big bad boyfriend, Sam Rockwell as Owen (one of the 3 most underrated actors of our time), Toni Collette as “the mom,” Allison Janney, and Liam James as Duncan.

This realistic coming of age comedy is overwhelmingly warm.  Duncan’s smiles are so genuine when in his own, and it’s something you can really sense.

Amazing if you liked Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, 500 Days of Summer, Moonrise Kingdom.

 

Southland Tales

Guys, I am still pretty sure the end of the world is imminent, and we’re way passed Idiocracy.

I give you a less comedic, and yet, completely insane telling of the world’s ultimate demise, Southland Tales. “Not with a whimper, with a bang.”

Set in an alternate LA just before July 4, 2008, this flick tells the interwoven stories of an amnesiac action star (The Rock), a police officer (Sean William Scott), a tripped out soldier (Justin Timberlake), a porn star (Sarah Michelle Gellar), and, I don’t know, half the cast of SNL and a gaggle of B list stars, teeing up to a 4th of July celebration that may or may not be the apocalypse.

From the mindhouse of the guy behind Donnie Darko, this bent timeline ensemble is an insanely fun star studded romp that, while pretty out there, rings a little bit true.  Made in 2007, the porn star trying to get a reality show story seemed somewhat far fetched.  Call in 2016, and the satirical alternate LA seems all too real.

Aside from it’s… story, this movie is also a lot of fun when treated like an anthology of scenes.  It has the futuristic campness of an acid trip Blade Runner, a soundtrack that dreams are made of, and scenes that could be standalone short films.  Timberlake has a music video like interlude that is his complete antithesis and, alone, is a great film. (See below if you need convincing)…. (Honestly, it could be a standalone short film about a veteran returning from war, turning to illegitimate work after being left behind by the government after a war injury, PTSD, valuing over masculinity, and vets turning to drugs.  And watch Justin do his best to hide his Justin-ness, and at 2:40, let his Justin-ness spill over into a casual dance move).

It’s campy.  It’s crazy.  It’s real.  It’s allegorical.  It’s biblical. It’s a TRIP. It’s full of space and future bullshit.  It’s sci fi.  It’s comedy. It’s star studded. Honestly, look at the cast.  Most are bona fide standalone characters, but it also gives it that “everyone in hollywood showed up to add a layer of cameo” vibe from bonkers flicks like Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. It’s also full of quotes that are completely unquotable and yet, you’ll want them on an inspirational poster.

It’s also pretty long and comes with a comic book prequel, so save it for a Sunday if you’re willing to dive right in.

Great if you liked: Blade Runner, Idiocracy, Donnie Darko, Dr. Strangelove

In Bruges

 

As I sat watching the first two awards announced at the Oscars, fighting with my cable box for its inability to play “Room,” I realized all I needed for real Sunday entertainment was my DVD collection, and In Bruges.

A go-to for a lot of film fans trying to help out a bored friend, this British flick is at the top of British (…Irish) Drama game.

Colin Farrell stars as Ray, a hitman, who along with his “co-worker,” Ken (Brendan Gleeson) has been sent to Bruges, Belgium to await orders from their boss, Harry.

The plot unfolds in such an artful way that I don’t want to delve into it any more here.

Martin McDonagh, (the brilliant genius behind Seven Psychopaths), does what he does best here.  He creates a simple story about a lost hit man and coats it with a thick layer of allegory, meta-plot, blatant hints you don’t see, and a perfect peppering of humour.

Farrell, (who is, IMO, one of the top 3 most underrated actors of our time) really shines here as Ray.  He even won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for it…. (Sorry, Oscars and DDL, this was Colin’s year).

By treating “crime” the way it does, it really takes you into the life of these hitmen and out of your every day.  It’s dark, it’s sad, it’s funny, and it’s exciting, a difficult combo on which McDonagh doesn’t disappoint.

Great if you liked: Seven Psychopaths, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake, Lucky Number Slevin, Rock N Rolla