How was your week? Comic-Con was raging on down in San Diego and I was able to poke my head in for day. I was also able to squeeze in quite a few films, so many that I've split this edition of Recently Beheld over two posts. Here's what I beheld..._________________________________________________________________
The Lone Ranger
Previously director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny Depp tackled the Western genre with 2011's Rango, a surprise computer-animated gem in a genre thirsty for innovation. I more than approved when I learned the same team would be taking their antics to a live-action re-imagining of the classic series The Lone Ranger. The result is one of the oddest blockbusters in recent memory (perhaps since Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean: The World's End). Depp tired me as Tonto, Armie Hammer was a great choice for the title character though. It's a shame the plot gets as mired and unfunny as it does, but there are two spectacular and extensive action sequences with trains at each end of this picture that I cannot wait to watch again and again.
Thank God I'm done with this series! I've got an unfortunate obsession to see things through to the end. Such was the case with the live-action adaptation of Death Note, a popular manga and (naturally) anime series in Japan. These three films are also Japanese produced. The initial concept is a winner, but it was already stretched thin over the first two films. With L Change the World we're left with nothing but a convoluted storyline and the worst acting this side of Twilight. I'm so sick of Death Note that I don't even want to bother with what came before the movies even though I've been told they're far superior.
Brit Marling goes undercover to infiltrate a tight-knit anarchist group known as The East. Marling and co-writer/director Zal Batmanglij previously delivered Sound of My Voice, a film with similar intrigue that mildly worked for me. The East is even less successful with more characters to juggle and an over-bearing sincerity that struck me as false scene after scene. It's only been a few days and it's already fading from my mind.
Sarah Polley's intimate documentary of her own family is one of the year's must-sees. The story of her parents' relationship, the kids' upbringing in Canada, and the realization that she herself is not her father's daughter all culminate in a touching and fascinating fashion. With so much drama you wonder how any of this could end well, but we're in good hands because Sarah was always in good hands. This is my favorite documentary of the year so far and a threat to this list I made at the top of the month.