Watching director Luc Besson’s “The Family,” about a Brooklyn Mafia clan living in Normandy, France, courtesy of the witness protection program, I speculated how many synonyms for the word seriocomic I would need to write my review.
Sitting at the sun-dappled table enjoying my morning coffee, I looked out the window, anticipating what birds and squirrels might visit to partake of whatever late summer’s bounty my backyard has made available. It was a scene in stark contrast to the ugly visions rummaging in the other half of my brain.
Director Edgar Wright’s “The World’s End,” a sci-fi comedy about five British pals attempting to relive their youth in one outlandish night of pub crawling, is creative, witty, nutty, irreverent and satirically savvy…but maybe a little too smart for itself.
One advantage of being a film critic, especially pertinent in the case of Courtney Solomon’s furiously turbulent “Getaway,” is that you get to see movies you’d never pay to see. All of which is my cute excuse for succumbing to the tastes and curiosity of the 15-year-old me. Truth be told, no one had to twist my stick-shifting arm to see this flimsy excuse for a feature length car chase.
It is astutely illustrated in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” that you cannot separate American history from the annals of African-American slavery, subjugation and the ongoing exodus that plays out in our daily domestic life. The sins of the past, born of an ignorance predating ancient times, shamefully wraps around the spine of our humanity like a cancer.
In Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” Cate Blanchett is a dazzling amalgam of all those wonderfully complex, troubled women that authors like Tennessee Williams, Ibsen and Chekhov introduced you to in high school English.
They were brought here in the hulls of ships essentially to build the new country. Then, when the foundation was nearly completed and the Industrial Revolution loomed, moral indignation, economics and an increasing divisiveness brought war.
The nice thing about coming of age stories like directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s “The Way Way Back,” about shy, 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) trying to find a happy place in semi-dysfunctional circumstances, is really a bit of a personal conceit. Our own memories, small, large, earth-shattering and curiously trivial, come hurtling to the fore.
Prologue: About a million years ago, contemplating my mortality whilst driving across the Neversink River in New York State, I glanced over to my wife Joanne and opined that Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones might one day entertain us at some old age home. “Cool!” was her automatically optimistic response. I was heartened. The moment replayed as I watched director Dean Parisot’s “Red 2.” I surmise a connection.
The amazing thing about director Guillermo del Toro’s highly imaginative “Pacific Rim” is that either I think I understood it, or, for sheer mental preservation, I’ve deluded myself into believing I understood it. In any case, despite oodles of complexity strewn through this non-stop buffet of color, action and comic-book heroism set in the 2020s, there’s no mistaking the derivation and genre.