The Spectacular Now, The Grandmaster, The World's End

Three quick hits from the past couple of weeks.

The Spectacular Now, directed by James Ponsoldt, is a lovingly tender film about two bruised teenagers in their senior year of high school who help each other to some "sobering" revelations. The two young leads -- Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley -- give wonderfully unaffected performances. Highly Recommended.

Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (the team that delivered Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) are the cinematic descendants of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Their latest film, The World's End, is as brilliantly unhinged as anything Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones put on the big screen but with less visionary artistry and more snark and glibness. This tale of a quintet of aging friends trying to relive an aborted night of pub-crawling frivolity from their youth is chock-full of brews and belly laughs. Highly Recommended.

Kar Wai Wong's The Grandmaster is as lovely a film as I've seen this year. It's balletic battles between Northern and Southern Chinese schools of kung fu pay homage to the masters of martial arts surrealism (Yimou Zhang and Ang Lee) while the quieter scenes of romance and introspection evoke Bergmanesque blousiness. Highly Recommended.


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