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Showing posts from May, 2014

Your dog is outside, running around with a knife in his mouth.

Another Thin Man (1939)
It would be perfectly reasonable to assume the introduction of a sprog to a husband and wife detective duo would be the death knell for a series. A sign that sentimentality and generally goo-iness have taken over. Nothing could be further from the truth in this third outing for The Thin Man series, an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Farewell Murder. Nicky Jr. is absolutely not central to the story, and our couple are as refreshingly flippant in their discussion of him as they are towards their own relationship (i.e. they don’t need to keep saying they love him). This is also the most densely plotted mystery, so far. I didn’t figure out the perpetrator, but the fun of a Thin Man movie is more the antics of Nick (William Powell) and Nora (Myrna Loy) getting to the reveal than the reveal itself, and this one is hugely satisfying in that regard.

As in After the Thin Man, Nick and Nora are called to investigate goings on at a house with an entourage of possible mi…

The minotaur isn’t even history. He’s mythology!

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
The long awaited, some might suggest past-its-sell-by-date, return of Ron Burgundy doesn’t begin well. It pretty much confirmed my fears this was a sequel with no reason to be, one that weakly rehash the gags and set-ups from the first movie. It isn’t until the gang gets back together that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay hit their groove, by which I mean there’s a higher hit than miss ratio to the jokes. Many of the ideas that come with the central concept are soft connects, but the more absurd The Legend Continues gets, the funnier it becomes, leading to a final act (if you can call it that) so glorious in its silliness that much of what fails before becomes virtually irrelevant.

Anchorman 2 was on-again, off-again for quite some time before it finally got the green light, with a stage musical even considered at one point. It seemed to me to be messing with a good thing; the inspired lunacy of the first picture had already shown its limits with the …

It’s not your job to interpret tears.

Short Term 12 (2013)
Destin Daniel Cretton’s film, based on his experiences working in a group facility for troubled teenagers, is an expansion of his 2009 short of the same name. Even given the best of intentions, it would be very easy to misjudge the tone with this kind of subject matter, leading to results so raw and heavy-going they are difficult to endure or ones that over-indulge the opportunities for melodrama. For the most part Cretton’s choices are astute and subtle. He opts for underplaying and sensitivity where it would be easy to choose bombast and preachiness. It’s only during the final act that he goes astray, succumbing to the urge to inject several over-dramatic developments that slightly mar the preceding fine character work.

Grace (Brie Larson, outstanding, but then so is every member of the cast) is the supervisor at the titular home. Remarkably able and assured at dealing with the residents, most of them victims of abuse, she is less capable in coming to terms with an…

Man, that’s one big bitch cockroach.

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Everyone loves Bruce Campbell. He’s eminently lovable; self-depracating, a natural wit, enthusiastic about his “art” and interactive with his fans. It’s easy to be seduced into cutting anything he shows up in some slack, just by virtue of his mighty Bruce-ness. I know, I’ve done it. Unfortunately, not everything he does has the crazy, slapstick energy of his most famous role. Most of it doesn’t. Don Cascarelli’s Elvis versus Mummy movie has a considerable cult following, based as much on the cult of Don as the cult of Bruce, but its charms are erratic ones. As usual, however, Campbell is the breezy highlight.

The blames rests with Cascarelli, since he adapted Joe R. Lansdale’s short story. The premise is a great high concept mash-up; Elvis Presley, a nursing home resident in declining health, must fight off an ancient Egyptian mummy. Is he really Elvis, or Elvis impersonator Sebastian Haff? Or both, as the King claims to have switched places with the real Haff so as t…