Time away does not mean time spent in play. While summer casts its languid lethargy about, this dear writer has been working his fingers to the bone and gladly welcomes a break (“It’s in the trees! It’s coming!”) AND welcomes you back for a quick recap of the big-man-on-campus films from last weekend, as well as, reviews of some of what is new or coming soon to your nearest BCN cinema.
A major missed option from last weekend that will quickly be addressed is the latest in the never-ending Planet of the Apes film series, this time Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (El Amanecer del Planeta de Los Simios). While I must say, the technics of the film are spectacular and honestly, the talking apes do better CGI-guided acting than the humans in the film (sorry conservative pundit Gary Oldman…next time perhaps), I still never can quite grasp the newness of living, speaking, oft-times upright walking apes in threads and warrior gear. It just seems so, I don’t know, fiendishly thrown back to an NRA-leader/ actor age. Odd…because the movie is DAMN entertaining, and though I perhaps enjoyed the 2011 reboot with James Franco more, you will be pleasantly happy when you walk out of the cinema with this Muir Woods, CA-set monkey epic. Back with us again, even if Franco is not, is the now grown-up chimp Caesar, who is the leader of his species. I won’t give away the easy details, but you have no business missing this film if you’re a fan of the franchise, and that’s quite simply, the truth. ###-1/2
On to something less blockbuster but just opening and also completely engaging is the new film Short Term 12 (Las Vidas de Grace). The film actually is the feature-length version of an acclaimed 2009 short film of the same name by writer/director/”not a hipster” Destin Daniel Cretton, a native of Hawaii. Let it be said here and now that this movie is striving to be the award-lauded answer to nouveau hipster cinema. It kind of succeeds in a way, as well, actually…but only slightly. The film, which is set in a home for wayward teens, is completely gripping with incredible and nuanced performances by the adolescents, frankly so good that two of the actors deserve recognition, namely Keith Stanfield and Kaitlyn Dever…amazeballs! I suppose the gripe comes from the incessant attempt to make you cry. Rather than playing with the subject gingerly, they throw one drama after another after another so that by the end, you feel like throwing up your hands and some sobs. Still…poignant and touching and coming from a man whose only other feature was called I Am Not a Hipster, this comes as a nice touch to the summer action set. ###-1/2
Next up…Vampire Academy. Yes, it is as stated, a story set within a vampire academy. Pause. Reflect. Continue. I think the pitch for the film must have been something along the lines of the following. “OK, guys…imagine The Vampire Diaries with a slight pinch of True Blood and a crap load of Harry Potter wannabe energy, and we have voila…Vampire Academy! It’s just gotta work...right?!”
Well…it does succeed with some laughs but I dare you to watch this and tell me it does not belong on the small screen. I must admit that watching the daughter of 80s starlet Lea Thompson, the protagonist Zoey Deutch, is a bit of a treat. She has a sassiness that is enticing if silly yet palatable. I think her tweeting is funny as hell, as well! (https://twitter.com/ZoeyDeutch) That said, playing off this film from a series of six YA novels about Dhampir (half vampire/half human) and guardian-in-training Rose Hathaway, who along with her best friend and royal vampire Lissa Dragomir, try to uncover the lies of the ruling powers that be at the academy from which they had run away two years earlier. That’s the basic plot, and though it’s not a lot, a silly night at home might make this a DVD fave in the months to come. Other than that, it’s a flop I’m afraid. ##
You know, it’s his ambition that makes me like Sylvester Stallone. The guy looks like he had his face smashed in with the guido stick at an early age, and yet he has written/starred in/directed in some truly great and often fun cinema since before I was even born! At 60-pico, he is still doing his best kick-ass impression of himself (watch out as The Expendables 3 is just around the cinematic corner!) and he doesn’t seem ready to stop. Case in point…his scribing of the new Jason Statham vehicle Homefront (El Protector), which comes hot off the heels of a DVD screener snafu of the aforementioned third installment of his fantasy action star hero/fighter series. Ah hell now, because I love you I’m going to do it. I’m sending you another link to the screener snafu of said film that won’t open here until mid-AUG. Just click, wait, press continue and presto! The job’s a game! http://gorillavid.in/mp5w2h6bjc0x …Now, back to the Statham movie. It’s got Winona Ryder in it. It’s got James Franco. Kate Bosworth. Hell, it’s a Statham movie written by Stallone, man! Yeeeeah…it’s some trite shite! It’s weird to see a Brit playing a U.S.-American in such an AMERICAN movie, sabes? Something in the water does not compute. Tracking Statham as an ex-DEA agent/now protected witness who brought down a crystal meth syndicate and then went into hiding as a single father is just plain silly and not the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s nice to see Winona on the screen, truth be told, and Franco is fun to watch as usual, but baby Jesus says no more! ##
This week also brings with it Cameron Diaz’s newest summer chick flick Sex Tape, which involves a married couple’s accidental drama with a homemade sex tape, done so as to to enliven their decade long tryst, now accompanied by children. It has been universally panned by critics, so you watch at your own risk! Also, The Purge 2:Anarchy opens, and I love the Spanish title…insert gruff, dark voice here… Anarchy: La Noche de Las Bestias. Loves! Couldn’t bear to watch it, frankly…and I love the genre (more than any other, frankly) and even certain critics are saying it’s better than the original. Just couldn’t. You know the premise. Twelve free hours to get all your wicked, inner demons out and no prosecution to occur for whatever mayhem is inflicted on the unfortunate victims, like the young couple whose car breaks down on the highway just as The Purge begins. Once you’ve seen the first one, sometimes you just don’t need to. I felt that way with Hostel…and incidentally have no intention to ever go to Eastern Europe. I felt the same with Saw. Ditto aqui!
Peace, mis amores. Peace…and please, visualize whirled peas… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-WllKtiMvU…os quiero!