The Week in Movies: Elysium, Prince Avalanche, Lovelace, and Planes
Welcome to Annotate This, where we gather reviews, trailers, and annotate the posters for movies coming out this week. It will help you decide what to avoid, what to see, and what to pretend to see. Click on the image above to add your comments to the mix.
Elysium (August 8)
Elysium is director Neill Blomkamp's follow-up to his Best Picture-nominated District 9. He's set this sci-fi thriller in 2154, on an earth divided—between the poor that live on a scorched earth and the wealthy that live in floating pods of Resort magazine photo-shoots. Matt Damon is fighting for equality. Jodie Foster is a confusing, multi-accented villain. It's too obvious, but it's got a decent aesthetic. Rich Juzwiak's review is here.
Amanda Seyfried does a more-than-decent job of portraying Linda Lovelace, the star of Deep Throat, and the supporting cast is an excellent set: Sharon Stone, James Franco, Adam Brody, Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Chris Noth, and Chloë Sevigny. However, the movie drops the ball on portraying a complex portrait of the 1970s, with reductive, cartoonish vignettes that "squander a gutsy performance by Amanda Seyfried." No worries if you don't like this one, guys, there's another one with Malin Akerman and Matt Dillon on the way! Rich Juzwiak's review is here.
David Gordon Green's small, subtle, striking movie stars Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as two guys painting yellow lines on a desolate part of Texas that had been destroyed by a wildfire. It's a funny and searching character study—with much space bravely devoted to silence. It's also a complete charmer; my review is here.
We're the Millers (August 7)
A bunch of actors play people acting like a family. Jason Sudeikis is a small-time drug dealer who hires stripper Jennifer Aniston and some kids (Will Poulter, cronut-line-cutter Emma Roberts) to act as his family so he can pack an RV with a ton of pot to smuggle it out of Mexico. It overly relies on a tarantula sight gag and resists self-awareness and growth, though it's got some consistent laughs.
A uninspired, autopilot version of Cars, this whole endlessly merchandisable ordeal is a vicious ruse by Disney to "sell more bedspreads to the under-10s."
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (August 7)
Like the other films in the Percy Jackson series, this might as well have been called Percy Jackson and the Derp of Derp or Mediocre CGI and the Crash Course in Greek Mythology. One reviewer was like fuck this, my kids are going to review it, I'll take the day off, please.
I Give It A Year
The relatively inventive plot of this romantic comedy starts with an already failing marriage. Though the "emotional mathematics" don't add up, it's diverting and thoughtful.
In a World
In this Lake Bell directed-written-starring skrewball, she plays a vocal coach who tries to break into the competitive movie-trailer-voice-over world. It's relatively engaging, with a "female-empowerment narrative" that sometimes veers into "disheveled woman-child" territory. Bell gets assistance from Fred Melamed, Rob Corddry, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Nick Offerman, Alexandra Holden, Tig Notaro, and Geena Davis.
Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher's sincere, visually impressionistic documentary about pharmaceuticals is expansive—covering the drugs' dangerous side effects, the problems of dependence, manipulation from drug reps, and the expense to healthcare. The documentary interweaves interviews with drug-test subjects, Big Pharma reps, and addicts. Because of the documentary's scope, it's hard to find a central thesis, but this topic of pharmaceuticals is so crazy complicated, so that might be the most truthful approach.
Kid Thing (August 7)
This Zellner brothers' surreal, "elliptical, deadpan art-comedy" features a wild ten-year-old girl who roves around causing destruction in her wake. The young actress played by Sydney Aguirre is phenomenal, though the "magical-realist elements don’t jibe with the unstudied naturalism of her performance."
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