Monday, July 25, 2011

A Better Life

A poor undocumented Mexican immigrant in L.A., intent on giving his 14-year-old son A Better Life, borrows money from his sister and buys his boss's truck and lawn care equipment. On the first day of his new life, the vehicle and tools are stolen by a fellow immigrant he's befriended. That's the wind up. The pitch is father and son (Demian Bechir and Jose Julian, respectively) set out to find the thief and the truck and salvage the father's dream and the son's future.

Chris Weitz has directed a warm film about illegal immigration that has so many moments of genuine, unadorned humanity that I couldn't help but pull for the disconnected pair. At one point during the search, father and son find themselves in the barrio, surrounded by faceless, struggling masses. The boy turns to his father and asks, his face a study in indignation, "Why did you have me? Why do poor people have children?" The father, dumbstruck, sets his eyes in the middle distance so as not to betray the pain he feels and says to his son. "Don't say that. Don't ever say that."

See this film before it gets away.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friends with Benefits

I thoroughly enjoyed Will Gluck's 2010 film Easy A with the entirely too charming Emma Stone. Gluck's Friends with Benefits has a lot of the same breezy insouciance and snappy sophistication but it also has two enormously catalytic stars at the center -- Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. They snap, crackle and pop from the first frame. The film -- which really is more about the journey to true love than the arrival -- has tons of sex talk and skin, but it's not dirty ... well, it is kinda dirty, but it's all good.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Horrible Bosses

The stars of Horrible Bosses are not the three gentlemen pictured here but the writers. Well, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis and Jason Bateman (left to right) ARE the stars but go with it. Writers Michael Markowitz and John Francis Daley really know their way around intricate, comedic plotting and masculine vulgarity. The script for this gem of a movie about three schmucks who work for bosses they REALLY would like to kill is dynamite ... a 21st century bawdy fest where everything goes wrong and then right and then .... It's culturally sharp and observant. Howlingly funny.

Captain America

Joe Johnston's Captain America has a swashbuckling verve to it that enhances what is basically a Dirty-Dozen-On-Steroids treatment of the origin of the Marvel comics hero, a 90-pound weakling who gets a makeover courtesy of 1940s-era Stark Enterprises (see Iron Man). Chris Evans' face, biceps and pecs are pretty formidable team as they take on the maniacal Nazi fiend Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving (who else?). The ever-reliable Tommy Lee Jones brings fairly substantial weight to his role as Col. Phillips, who begins the film as a C.A. skeptic but eventually turns into a believer, especially after he sees the kind of attention the Captain gets from Special Agent Peggy Carter (I LOVE women named Peggy). The movie is a fun time though I am sure the good Captain (ironically, a classic example of an Aryan ubermensch) will be soundly pummeled this summer by a bespectacled British kid named Harry.

Queen & Slim

In the soon to be iconic photograph from Melina Matsoukas's distressing Queen & Slim, stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith...