Monday, July 8, 2013

RECENTLY BEHELD: JULY 1-7, 2013

Curator's Note: I'm giving this Recently Beheld segment another go. I initially began trying it as a monthly piece that I would break down to eight or so films per post. I quickly got behind and ceased for months. I've thought it over and it makes much more sense for me to do it one week at a time. With the recent start of 2013's second half I thought I'd give this a retry. Again, the primary reason I am doing this (besides an exercise in critical brevity) is that I see more movies than I find myself using my time to write about them. Ideally I'd write a full review for every single movie I ever see - and there's still a sadistic part of my obsessive and completist mind that thinks I will - but realistically I probably won't. Applying the philosophy that "some is better than none" I will be limiting myself to a paragraph on each film I watched during the week. This is not at all meant to replace a full or short review (typically three paragraphs or less constitutes a short review in the Tome) previously or hereafter posted.

Hope you all had a relaxing holiday weekend! What did you see last week? By the sounds of the domestic box office a lot of you saw "Despicable Me 2" and only one of you saw "The Lone Ranger." Here's what I beheld...

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(2013)


In a year full of coming-of-age narratives (why is that?) "The Kings of Summer" will likely manage is stick it's head out among the group. It tries so desperately hard to be the cool kid on the multiplex block, much like the young characters in its forefront. Virtually all the supporting players are quirky stereotypes that feel lifted from the cutting room floor of a Wes Anderson film. These may all sound like complaints, but who am I kidding? This film is cool and quirky and dripping with style. I feel this could garner a cult status in no time.


★★★½
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(2013)


Perhaps the single highest praise I can sling upon the third film in writer/director Richard Linklater's "Before" trilogy (though maybe I'd/we'd better use "series" as nobody knows - perhaps not even Linklater, Hawke nor Delpy) is that I already feel it's placed too low on my list of the best films of 2013 (thus far). Seeing it with my wife last Wednesday night was like seeing it anew even though I remembered each charming exchange and each stinging remark that would be coming. "Before Midnight" is a relationship masterpiece with so much truth, romance and dilemma that nothing else in memory comes close.

★★★★★
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(2013)


I didn't see myself watching Dreamworks Animation's "The Croods" for a second time anytime soon, but I'm glad I did. Short of Pixar and Studio Ghibli's yearly offerings, which should maybe be in a category all of their own, this is an early frontrunner for Best Animated Feature. Like my return to "Before Midnight" with the ideal viewing partner, I saw this with most of my family - surely the best possible group to see it with. This chronicle of a cave-family learning to adapt/evolve to a whole new world is frequently hilarious, appropriately emotional and almost always visually stunning. After "How to Train Your Dragon" and the "Kung Fu Panda" films we need to seriously consider placing Dreamworks on the same pedestal as the aforementioned animated royalty.

★★★★
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(2013)



Channing Tatum (secret service hopeful) and Jamie Foxx (president of the free world) are forced to team together when a group of renegades take over the White House. It's less "'Die Hard' in a White House" than "Olympus Has Fallen" is, though I'd take this film over that one any year (or at least this year). That's not to say this film is particularly good. It has one great scene during it's stretched running time which only made me wonder what could have been with one mediocre and predictable turn after another. Tatum and Foxx make a fun duo though.

★★½
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(2013)


The sequel to Illumination Entertainment's surprise hit is as much fun (and as much annoyance) as what came before. A retired super-villain grapples with his freshly attained fatherhood while the storytellers juggle in as many minions as the plot can carry. There's wonderful moments of wordless executions and the color palette never once pales, but there's too many episodic cogs at work here than for the film's own good.

★★★½
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Seen any of these films? What did you see last week? Please feel free to share your own thoughts or recently beheld in the comments below!

See what else I've been watching in my Letterboxd diary.

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