Short reviews for Obvious Child, Begin Again, and Snowpiercer.
Howdy, folks! Fourth of July weekend is upon us and I would like to provide a few alternatives for people looking to escape the heat and go to the movies, but aren’t necessarily into fighting robots (Transformers: Age of Extinction) or pedestrian comedy (Tammy). Here’s a few recommendations of lesser-known flicks that are well worth your time.
Writer/director Gillian Robespierre makes her feature film debut and actress/comedian Jenny Slate carries the heavy load in Obvious Child, a movie that is funnier than expected considering it’s serious subject matter. Slate plays comedian Donna Stern, recently dumped, soon to be out of a job, and possibly (obviously) knocked up, in a romantic comedy that feels both modern and authentic.
The supporting cast (Gaby Hoffman, Jake Lacy, David Cross) have an easy camaraderie and Slate’s portrayal of a modern woman is refreshingly honest. She is silly, blunt, filthy, immature, and imminently likeable in a movie that delivers the goods without being preachy.
4 out 5 Nerdskulls
I watched Begin Again immediately after Obvious Child and it made for a fun night at the movies. John Carney previously won audiences over with his 2007 musical film Once and he does it again with Begin Again. The music here isn’t quite as good, but the film is more of a crowd-pleaser and Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo do a fine job of selling it. Ruffalo plays Dan, a previously successful record producer that has fallen on hard times and Knightley is Greta, a young songwriter he sees potential in. Adam Levine plays her boyfriend/music partner that loses sight of things when his music hits it big. Levine is the weakest link, but the rest of the cast is on point and CeeLo Green shines in a few small scenes.
Carney is a deft orchestrator hitting all the right notes. In a lesser director’s hands this could’ve been a cliched mess, but it works here. You want the characters to succeed, and there are some cool moments like when Dan- in a drunken stupor- initially sees Greta singing in a club and he imagines her lyrics with a full musical arrangement from a variety of instruments. The movie does get a little schmaltzy at times, but it has a lot of heart and I had no problem buying in. This is what you should see if you’re looking to see a feel good movie this weekend.
4 out 5 Nerdskulls
Snowpiercer is the hands down choice if your into sci-fi or action films. It takes place in a future where an unsuccessful global warming experiment destroys all of life on earth- except for the passengers on board the Snowpiercer, a super long train that circles the globe, powered by a perpetual motion engine. The train is set up in a class system with the unlucky, disheveled masses at the back and the wealthy elite at the front. They remain separated and segregated, and after 17 years of being treated like dogs, those at the back of the train have had enough.
This isn’t your typical action movie. Korean director Bong Joon-ho (Mother, The Host) makes his English-language debut and does so in style. The level of detail in the sets and costumes brings to mind Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The City of Lost Children with shades of Gilliam’s Brazil (one of the characters is even named Gilliam). There’s some decent action pieces, but the story is what captured my attention. I’m still pondering the film, and the more I think about it, the more I like it, but I wasn’t emotionally involved while watching. I didn’t feel invested in the characters. Snowpiercer is cold, and a little detached, but it sports a solid international cast (Chis Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, and Jamie Bell), and has an interesting, imaginative setting. The hype is strong with this one, and while it didn’t quite live up to it, it’s still one of the best action/sci-fi films of the year.
4 out 5 Nerdskulls
All 3 films are currently playing in Houston.
Obvious Child and Begin Again are playing exclusively at Landmark River Oaks
Snowpiercer is playing for a limited time at Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park
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