Last week on the Friday morning radio show I'm a part of, we chatted briefly about the Oscars that were broadcast internationally over this past Sunday and Monday evenings. Well dammit, I'm proud to say that with the exception of the Best Director Oscar, my predictions were all correct, so kudos to Birdman and its director, fellow Mexicano Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, as well as all the actors that cleaned up a rather entertaining, if bloody long, ceremony. Also, extra kudos to the voice on Lady Gaga…honestly.
That clears the field of all 2014 film entries and brings us to this week's list of cinema fare.
First up this weekend, and as always if a kid’s film is in tow, is The Book of Life. This Guillermo del Toro-animated production does a stellar job of highlighting some of the long-lasting traditions of the Mexican people. On a side note, what's up with all of the sudden US recognition of Mexican cinema fare and with accolades to boot? No complaints on this end but hot damn, two years in a row that the Best Picture Oscar has gone to a Mexican film and director? And now this lovely, if somewhat silly, film enters the fray? Not mad, I tell you! Mexico is the largest populated country of Spanish speakers, and with its history of culture and ancestry going back thousands of years it is also the longest-established frontier of North America. The cartoon starts immediately with a nosedive into the fantastical via a museum guide and her tales…and then it stays there throughout. Telling the tortured story of a lackluster bullfighter named Manolo and his lost love Maria, their journey goes through the living world and then the supernatural, all the while detailing its story using traditional folklore fused with modern songs by various artists like Radiohead and Mumford & Sons. A very slick, entertaining production, this is a wonderful family film not to be missed. ###
Next up comes Kingsman: The Secret Service, the latest by Guy Ritchie's mate and fellow British director, Matthew Vaughn. The director opted out of the last X-Men film to helm this first of a series (at least, it seems!) and unsurprisingly, it’s a crafty, heady and fun piece of celluloid. Vaughn first shot to fame several years back with his successful indie caper Layer Cake, and he infuses that British gangster streak with a heavy dose of James Bond slick, X-Men-style camaraderie and Wachowski/Ritchie-styled effects that all play into one of the most fun moments in big budget cinema to come around this year. Following the exploits of a young, quasi-loser named Eggsy (Taron Egerton of The Smoke TV series fame) who is coerced into the Kingsman, this secret service protection agency soon embroil themselves in a fight against a Steve Jobs-style madman played with aplomb by Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson plays Richmond Valentine, a man hell bent on converting as many people on Earth into unsuspecting, violent beings…all via a SIM card chip. Elements of Stephen King’s The Cell aside, when you throw in Colin Firth, Michael Caine and even (in a brief cameo role) Mark Hamill, I’m so sold! This is a solid action film and it’s asking for some new converts. ###-1/2
Finally today, the worst for last…The Woman in Black: Angel of Death. So often in horror movies, sequels and prequels get vomited out to DVD or cinemas so rapidly, that it’s hard to keep up with them. I mean, eight Saw films in a decade? As I watched the new Woman in Black film, I kept waiting for Harry Potter to make his appearance and save the film, which he only barely managed to do with the original. Alas, no such luck here. I longed for something thrilling or halfway scary to occur, even a moderate jump would have been a wakeful blessing. Instead, the best thing about the film was the epoch in which it was set, several decades after the original, as bombs attack England during WWII raids. The film sets off with the rescue of children displaced by the raids as they are taken to a rural halfway home. En route, bus tyre drama forces the caretakers and children to take shelter in an abandoned boarding school. Cheesy foreshadowing, unmotivated Drama Club acting, and no scares make this the first truly crappy, big screen horror flick of 2015. Do not serve hot and do not enjoy. #
Have a great weekend everybody and keep an ear out for me every Friday morning from 9-10am on KRB 106.9 for some excellent chats, interviews and hot topics with the Fuel for Fridays in BCN crew. See you babies soon!