With less than a month into the summer breezes of hateful humidity (and that will be the only time you see the word ‘odio’ in this blog), we have more than two months ahead of us, so you best be keeping yourself cooled off with whatever means you have, and a nice way to do that is with AC-blowing cinemas and outdoor cine love fests like Cine en la Platja (San Sebastian Beach near The W) or Sala Montjuïc, everyone’s favourite outdoor cinefest for cineasts.
This weekend, a host of newbies make their way onto the big screen and unlike most entries, today we start with a documentary…we simply have to.
The new documentary, Amy, was screened several weeks ago at Cannes and as you watch the film, it feels as if not only is it just slightly incomplete, but you almost expect Amy to come out at the end to enchant you as if she’d never left. It’s hard not to tear up…truly, truly she was a gift to music. She was also a tortured soul, and it didn’t come necessarily from upbringing but by the age in which we live and extreme heartbreak. Perhaps it’s that visceral notion as you see these clips (many never before seen on celluloid) that makes you long for her presence. When she speaks, it’s like a dear mate talking as if she couldn’t be ‘bovered’, and it made me wince inside. She is gone. Certain scenes of the film that touched me were her clips of burgeoning days and inclusions of her holiday in Mallorca with a friend…oh and when she sings ‘Moon River’—that gave me some damn good chills. Summer is kissing us with cinema that hosts a lot of musical love. This is another one, like last week’s Love and Mercy, that should be watched. Sad…but bittersweet, engrossing and chilling. ####
Whenever cartoons delve into adult territory on the big screen (South Park, The Simpsons), it usually fares better than expected at the box office because a built-in audience is there…and we all know that film companies now know they must appeal to sentiments of all ages since it is usually parents and abuelitos who are taking these tykes to movies, correct? So what happens when a film is intentionally made for adults (this one just has to be, in my not so humble opinion) but clearly designed to appeal to a much younger audience? Enter Exhibit 1…this week’s Inside Out. Besides also premiering recently at Cannes and boasting some of my comedic faves (Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler AND Bill Hader), the film is a Pixar pic, which usually auto-gets votes for ‘YES!’ And I’m certainly not saying anything to the contrary here, so how shall I begin? From the beginning, I suppose. Young Riley moves to the big city (this time, San Fran) from her simple and comfortable, Midwestern-Minnesota, U.S. life. Inside her, reign the five principal emotions which dictate young tween Riley, namely joy, fear, sadness, anger and even disgust! The film follows their trials and tribulations directing the lovely, changing Riley. The film was famously assisted in its story process by psych docs and it’s very telling that this film is already one of the most successful animated films ever released (nearly $500 million so far…in less than a month!). People are itching for something that taps on many levels, but this is very much a self-actualising piece of non-kiddie children’s cinema, and parents and older ones will benefit most. Animated, deep cinema therapy? ###-½
I was quite high on LSD when I watched The Blair Witch Project on DVD back in uni just before the millennium. It was surreal. It was not that frightening, though. It was however quite visceral when under that chemical influence. Flash forward a decade and a half, and the ‘found footage’ horror genre has been bastardised, rehashed and basically shot to death in every sense of that verb. Now then, this past weekend has brought us Unfriended (Eliminado), a new sidestep into the footage horror fest but this time the entire film takes place on a Skype group call between friends when they’re hacked by what they think must be a prankster. What actually begins as a freaky incident takes over the conversation as they find it impossible to get rid of the hacker. Systematically, this person destroys the group of friends by tarnishing their images with videos and forced teen games that reveal truths that erode at their trust…and then the deaths start. The thing is, despite all the screaming and yelping and teenage crying, the filmmakers have given us a great horror premise/template but without defining the elements that are freaking everyone out in the film. By the end, we all know there’s a ghostly presence mandating all this..but…. something is sorely lacking, which is frustrating because this was a definite decent effort. ##-½
Finally today, True Story…and it is, actually. Starring Jonah Hill and James Franco, the film follows the creepy, true tale of NYTimes writer James Finkel as he publishes a massive report article, which is then discovered to have been embellished. Finkel gets fired, he moves back to the country, and starts pursuing new avenues of work. And here is where things try to get interesting. A reporter calls with reference to a man recently arrested in Mexico who has been impersonating Finkel. Correspondence between this man (played with weird, controlled gusto by James Franco) and Finkel (Jonah Hill) commences as Finkel attempts to get to the bottom of this story and this man. As a film though, they don’t really convince us, the viewers, that there is anything too compelling to gain from the film. Telling a ‘based on actual accounts’ story can always go either here or there, but when you have this type of plot and two great actors, a solid script and continuity is needed, not just a wannabe energy leftover from True Detective on HBO, you know? Mehhh. ##-½
Have a great week and keep cool and hydrated. After all, the sun is only our fair-weathered friend right now, lovelies! See you in a few days!