Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lucy

The first ten minutes of Lucy, Luc Besson's absolutely berserk new film, will likely reveal your patience for this insane, fever dream mash-up of metaphysical blather and grand spectacle.  We meet American party girl Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), a blonde tart studying abroad in Taipei, and she's being courted (and then some) to courier a briefcase of unknown contents by her sketchy beau-of-the-week.  She does so, delivering this package to the unrepentantly evil Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi, the original Oldboy.)  For an action movie it seems like a fairly standard set-up, like a generic variant of Taken (another Besson property.)  To no surprise, the briefcase contains drugs and Lucy, against her will, becomes a mule carrying the mysterious CPH4, which has been sewn into her abdomen.  The drug leaks and Lucy turns into a god-like creature with the ability to use more than 10% of her brain capacity.  She literary becomes the girl with kaleidoscope eyes.  With me so far?

But there's stranger things afoot.  For starters, Besson's cuts the first sequence with nature footage of wildlife animals luring and attacking their prey.  What is this movie?  When Lucy is offered cash, we cut to a shot of mouse nearing its trap.  Lucy never had a chance from the start, but Lucy is something else entirely-- a nutty exercise in style, one that abandons its generic action film traits nearly as quickly as it establishes them, unleashing a beast of movie, one that if isn't exactly smart, is certainly alluring in its confidence.  Maddening and mined with pseudo-science that might make Neil deGrasse Tyson's head explode, Lucy is strangely exhilarating and nearly unfathomably weird.  Besson throws imagery and madcap violence with such reckless abandon; he's genre bursting to such a heightened degree that Lucy plays like The Tree of Life meets Looney Tunes.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Television Critics Association Awards

PROGRAM OF THE YEAR: Breaking Bad
BEST NEW PROGRAM OF THE YEAR: Orange is the New Black
BEST COMEDY SERIES: (tie) Louie; Veep
BEST DRAMA SERIES: The Good Wife
BEST MINISERIES: True Detective
BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE IN A DRAMA: Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE IN A COMEDY: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
BEST NEWS AND INFORMATION PROGRAM: Cosmos
BEST REALITY SERIES: RuPaul's Drag Race
BEST YOUTH PROGRAM: The Fosters
HERITAGE AWARD: Saturday Night Live
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: James Burrows

Friday, June 20, 2014

Los Angeles Film Festival

The Los Angeles Film Festival closed yesterday-- Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys was the closing night film.  Here are the winners of the fest, this year celebrating their 20th Anniversary.

Stray Dog, the new documentary from Winter's Bone director Debra Granik

Narrative Award (for Best Narrative Feature)
Man From Reno, directed by Dave Boyle
 
Documentary Award (for Best Documentary Feature)
Stray Dog, directed by Debra Granik

LA Muse Award
Los Ángeles, directed by Damian John Harper

Best Performance in the Narrative Competition
The Ensemble Cast of Recommended by Enrique, directed by Rania Attieh and Daniel García

Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
The Young Kieslowski, directed by Kerem Sanga

Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature
Meet the Patels, directed by Geeta V. Patel and Ravi V. Patel

Audience Award for Best International Feature
Someone You Love, directed by Pernille Fischer Christensen
Country: Denmark

Award for Best Narrative Short Film
The Runaway, directed by Jean-Bernard Marlin. France

Award for Best Documentary Short Film
The Queen, directed by Manuel Abramovich. Argentina

Award for Best Animated/Experimental Short Film
Butter Lamp, directed by Hu Wei. China/France

Audience Award for Best Short Film
The Gunfighter, directed by Eric Kissack

Audience Award for Best Music Video
“Turn Down For What”, Lil Jon and DJ Snake; directed by Daniels
Music: Lil Jon & DJ Snake

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Critics Choice Television Awards

COMEDY
BEST SERIES: Orange is the New Black
BEST ACTOR: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
BEST ACTRESS: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: (tie) Allison Janney, Mom; Kate Mulgrew, Orange is the New Black
BEST GUEST PERFORMER: Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black

DRAMA
BEST SERIES: Breaking Bad
BEST ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
BEST ACTRESS: Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Bellamy Young, Scandal
BEST GUEST PERFORMER: Allison Janney, Masters of Sex

MOVIE/MINISERIES
BEST MOVIE: The Normal Heart
BEST MINISERIES: Fargo
BEST ACTOR: Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo
BEST ACTRESS: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Allison Tollman, Fargo

OTHER
BEST REALITY SERIES: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
BEST REALITY (COMPETITION SERIES): Shark Tank
BEST REALITY HOST: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
BEST TALK SHOW: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
BEST ANIMATED SERIES: Archer  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How to Train Your Jump Street 2

A battle of the sequels 2014 edition!  On one corner of the ring stands 22 Jump Street, the meta-ier than thou sequel to the already pretty meta 2012 comedy 21 Jump Street, an improbable critical and commercial success based on that 80s television show that famously steered Johnny Depp away from teen beat matinee idol mode.  On the other side stands How to Train Your Dragon 2, the second outing of the 2010 animated hit that is the gold standard in every way for DreamWorks Animation.  Let's get ready to rumble.



  1. 22 Jump Street- $60 million (opening weekend)
  2. How to Train Your Dragon 2- $50 million (opening weekend) 
  3. Maleficent- $19 million / -44% / $163.5 million total
  4. Edge of Tomorrow- $16.1 million / -43% / $56.6 million total
  5. The Fault in Our Stars- $15.7 million / -67% / $81.7 million total
  6. X-Men: Days of Future Past- $9.5 million / -37% / $205.9 million total
  7. Godzilla- $3.1 million / -48% / $191.3 million total
  8. A Million Ways to Die in the West- $3 million / -58% / -$38.9 million total
  9. Neighbors- $2.4 million / -53% / $143 million total
  10. Chef- $2.2 million / -13% / $14 million total 
In the end, the R-rated, college bound hijinks of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill overruled a bushel of dragons (and Cate Blanchett, a superhero in her own right who voices a character in the Dragon sequel.)  Never fear, Dragon fans (I myself was absolutely besotted with it- a review to come up soon, I hope!) as surely the film will hold well throughout the summer.  Hopefully, it will snatch an Oscar as well but that's getting ahead of ourselves.  What did you see this weekend?
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