A lot of the films released here in Spain and Europe within the first two months of the year are often those released at the very end of the previous year either Stateside or in the UK. As the awards season ends, the newer flicks scheduled for the year begin to pop out, and this is where we find ourselves as the winter continues. Let’s talk about some of these movies now.
When Will Smith joined the fray against the Oscars voting system and extreme lack of diversity this year, a lot of press, that should have been more focused on his latest film, were instead directed at the Oscar controversy and ‘What did Will and Jada say?’ silliness. The film, Concussion, recounts the recent and true story of Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist, given the responsibility of performing an autopsy on famous NFL great, Mike Webster. What his work, and the following research that ensues, discloses is the fact that a traumatic disorder may have been the reason for Webster’s death…as well as a few other players. Resulting from so many head blows in American football games (and rugby, no doubt), Dr. Omalu goes about doing what he can to prove this, only to find one roadblock after another. Produced by Ridley Scott and directed and written by Peter Landesman, the film is absolutely intriguing and Smith’s performance as the African doctor-cum-US forensic specialist is superb, though again, I ask…are there not any excellent, African actors from Africa (not Studio City!) who can play Africans? Certainly Smith was irked by putting in a strong performance only to get little recognition, but I have a feeling this film will do quite well here in Europe and overseas, as well. ###-1/2
It’s much to easy to call off chick flicks as something only reflecting women’s views and humour these days. After the success of Bridesmaids and fare of that nature, written and produced by women, that reflect life in general and bridge the sex spectrum, as well as, make a killing at the box office, plenty of studios are getting in on the act. The new film, How to Be Single, brings a somewhat fresh approach to the dating scene by actually allowing its characters to be happy without settling down or having the all-too-formulaic attack of a walk into the sunset love affair. Perhaps the presence of Alison Brie and Leslie Mann could have been stronger as character actresses (especially Mann), but Dakota Johnson is again more palatable than expected (sigh!!! to all the 50 Shades sequels) and while a bit of her schtick is now expected, again Rebel Wilson is a delight that brings about the best guffaws in this less formulaic, but perhaps too telling piece of rom-com cinema. ###
Okay then…Zoolander 2. The first film played a small but significant role in my comedic spectre as a uni student just after the post-millennium tension has subsided. My sister and one of my best friends work(ed) in fashion in the City, and I was always on hand to help out when able; so what I liked about the original film, apart from all the fantastic cameos (shout-outs to Bowie and Sandra Bernhard!), was how self-deprecating and knowing and ‘taking the piss out of everything’ the film was. It was over-the-top silly and yet so poignantly revealing the truth behind much of the fashion and beauty industry, which let’s be honest, mandates SO much of modern society and thinking. With this latest film, it goes even further and it does so because it has to. In 2001, with the internet and technology taking over, a film like Zoolander was all fluff and silliness. Now fifteen (JESUS H!) years later, celebrity culture, the new tech age of smartphones and social media, as well as the dominance of media culture in our lives, practically compel you to know that this sequel is going to now spew all over that culture…and it does, to various heights and extreme relative reactions. I, for one, was in on the game. When Anna Wintour is actually taking the piss out of herself and Justin Bieber is violently and comically killed within a few minutes into the film (great opening!), and STING is a hero in the film, I’m sold. The critics have had a field day with this insane sequel, so I must say that the majority of critics have no idea how very over-the-top the fashion world is from the inside. Suffice it to say, complete accuracy was hardly the thing Stiller and Co. were going for in the film, but as far as I’m concerned, they nailed their social commentary…and I laughed and cringed a lot throughout! ###
I’ve been binging on the 'Foreign Language' and 'Documentary Feature' Oscar categories like a madman, and frankly some of the content has made me a mad man, so I’ll get to more of that next week. Have a laugh this week and take it easy. Talk soon!