Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Triple Movie Review: The World's End, Rush, Enough Said

Sorry for slacking again on the blogging front.  I've seen three new movies in the theaters in the past month.  Here are my quick-hit reviews on each of them.

The World's End is the third film in the Edgar Wright directed, Simon Pegg / Nick Frost trilogy of British comedies that includes Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  Having seen both of those earlier films I was looking forward to this one which features five lifelong friends who get back together after 20 years for an epic bar crawl in England.  An interesting and wacky plot twist adds a bit of supernatural and apocalyptic twist to the story but overall this is a hilarious R-rated drunken romp that highlights the comedic talents of Pegg.  Pegg's portrayal of Gary King is quite epic in that he throws all caution to the wind and delivers a bravado, arrogant performance that carries the entire film.  The rest of the cast (including Bilbo Baggins himself Martin Freeman) is good enough to keep the laughs moving.  There are some lulls here and there but overall this is a perfect ode to beer drinking and good times amongst friends.  A solid 4 out of 5 JRs for this one.

Ron Howard returns to respectability with Rush, the Formula One racing film that marks his best movie since Apollo 13.  The movie chronicles the careers of rivals James Hunt (Thor's Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Inglourious Basterds' Daniel Bruhl) in the competitive world of high-speed F1 racing in the 1970's.  The two compete neck-and-neck in a battle for the 1976 Formula One Championship that is highlighted by a gruesome car crash in which Lauda suffers major facial burns forcing him to miss a few races.

Howard has put together one of the best sports movies ever filmed.  He uses authentic 70's clothes, cars and graphics to depict the racing sequences.  Speed is emphasised in the camera movement and roaring sounds.  We get intercut visuals of pistons thrusting, flames burning and tires spinning and essentially we feel that we are with Lauda and Hunt along for the ride.  Howard's perfect vision is coupled with two excellent performances from the two leads.  Bruhl is a total revelation at Lauda and nails his mannerisms and quiet confidence while Hemsworth continues the charm he perfected as Thor in bringing the playboy-persona of Hunt to life.  The chemistry between the two actors/rivals seems natural as well and totally adds to the realism of the film.

This movie took me back to my days in college where I was more into F1 racing (thanks to my F1-obsessed roommate at the time).  Howard has written a love letter to the sport and gives a non-biased look at the dangers and thrills associated with it.  I was so close to giving this movie a perfect 5 JRs (no movie in 2013 has received 5 yet), but due to a few slow parts and a throwaway performance/character from Olivia Wilde (as Hunt's model/wife), this is not quite a perfect film.  That being said, I encourage everyone to go see this movie now on the big screen to experience the amazing sound and vision that Howard brings to the screen.  A VERY STRONG 4.5 out of 5 JRs for the best film of 2013 thus-far.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus co-stars with the late James Gandolfini in Enough Said, a romantic comedy about two divorcees who meet and make an unlikely pairing.  I can't give too much away about the plot of this film as there's a major plot-twist midway through that sets some awkward events in motion.  The chemistry between Dreyfus and Gandolfini feels a bit forced at times but the two are such great comedic actors that they make it work for the most part.  Toni Collette and Catherine Keener round out a solid supporting cast but really this movie does nothing new outside of giving us some witty comedic dialogue and some truly funny moments.  Enough Said is a funny film that is kind-hearted at times and gives a fond send-off to Gandolfini.  I have to say though I was a bit bored at times and could have waited for video on this one.  I would say to catch this on Netflix or a rental.  I think I would have enjoyed this more if I hadn't seen Rush a few hours before it.  3 out of 5 JRs for this one.

There you have it, three quick reviews to make up for lost time.  My next cinematic target is Gravity, the space film by Alfonso Cuaron starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney that's getting a ton of buzz.  I hope to see it next week sometime.

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