Boogie Box Office Picks: ‘The World’s End,’ ‘Short Term 12,’ & ‘Fruitvale Station’
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‘The World’s End’
Let’s review some offbeat movies currently out there. Boogie contributor Christopher Thompson talk some of his favorite picks.
The World’s End (Showing at Regal Union Square Stadium 14 & Others)
The World’s End is the 3rd installment of the Cornetto trilogy (and if you don’t know what that means don’t worry it’s as meaningless as it sounds). To simplify, it’s the third film in which director Edgar Wright has teamed up with comedy buddy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, their first being the pretty good Shaun of the Dead and their second the pretty ok ‘Hot Fuzz. Note: Wright had nothing to do with the pretty inexcusably bad Pegg & Frost vehicle Paul.
Once again the cheeky British chaps embark on a genre mash up, but this time replacing battling zombies for battling some other plot spoilers upon the now familiar English suburban pub backdrop.
Pegg plays a guy who as a young man used to be top dog, but now his mates think he’s a bit of a dick. He twists the arms of his old crew to go on a pub crawl back in their crap home town and that pity-inducing nostalgic conceit is predictably what Wright & Pegg use to give everybody the feels. Then halfway through… Huzzah!! Poorly executed action set pieces and fights aplenty are used to wake up the audience and drag them to a weird and unsatisfying ending.
You’re stumping up twelve bucks here for an action comedy, so the question is: Is it funny? Yeah, I guess, kinda. Critics appeared to have lost their shit over this movie, it got 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, which quite frankly is undeserved. It sits at around more like a 76% for overall movie satisfaction. If you’re hungover and it’s starting in 20 minutes go see it. But, on a tenuously related note, if you haven’t seen This is the End yet, (the American ensemble comedy still on release with the word ‘End’ in it), go see that instead, because it’s actually funnier even allowing for Seth Rogan hate or James Franco fatigue.
Fruitvale Station (Showing at City Cinemas Village East Cinema)
Fruitvale Station cleaned up at Sundance this year and from the trailer alone, which sucker punched me into teary eyes, you could tell this was going to be sad. And it certainly delivered that, I mean it was sad, like depressing sad. The guy in front of me, who was undeniably a bit of a kook, was sobbing uncontrollably at the end of this movie, with his knees up under his chin, crying to the point of awkward embarrassment for those around him. I, on the other hand, was a man about these things and cried on the inside like my emotionally repressed father had taught me.
The film revolves around a tragic incident in 2008 when an unarmed & cuffed Oscar Grant was shot dead by a police officer at Fruitvale Station, a BART train station in Oakland, California. The murder was recorded on cellphones and that’s the footage that opens the movie. The rest of the film is a flashback to the previous day’s mostly unrelated events that came before this devastating moment.
The intent of a film such as this is to emphasize the humanity and personal story behind an almost incomprehensibly macabre 60-second youtube clip of a young black man being murdered by a policeman. I appreciate that there is a nobility in that and as a piece of filmmaking it’s affecting, Michael B Jordan’s performance is truly great.
However, I have to say I am a little uncomfortable with the dramatizing of this man’s life; For instance we have Oscar wistfully staring out over the ocean, taking a pensive moment to seemingly reflect upon the enormity of our Universe and the futility of our lives, and that just seems to be unlikely to have happened. Artistic license is one thing in a drama, even in a mini biopic such as this one, but when a film presents itself as reality by incorporating the real and visceral footage of the moment of death maybe it’s problematic? Whether or not you share these cinematic concerns is unlikely to remove the devastating impact of the final 20 minutes. You will cry on the outside or on the inside.
Short Term 12 (Showing at Landmark Sunshine Cinema)
Short Term 12 is the indie movie you’ve been looking for, if you’re looking for a movie to be tender, well-observed, a little heart-breaking and a little inspiring. It’s a movie that delivers no fantasy or escapism, just a kind of shy introduction to a world of damaged and abused children. Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr. play Grace and Mason, a couple in charge of a short term shelter home for foster kids.
Writer/Director Destin Cretton reveals lives of unmistakeable truth and pain, but to stop this subject matter from being a massively unappealing and spirit crushing affair, he softens each blow by providing each character with someone to catch them, sometimes emotionally and sometimes literally as troubled and confused teens bolt for escape from the shelter.
It’s a satisfying approach to see everybody cuddled and kissed on the head and told it’s all going to be ok, with seemingly bottomless compassion and understanding. That’s not to say it’s an overly sanitized look, even though scenes involving actual acts of child abuse are thankfully absent here, we get the after effects, the blame, confusion, tears, dead stares, and self harm.
It’s a testament to the writing and performances that it’s difficult to be cynical about a great little movie that has at its heart a message that no one is beyond repair, that there is hope and support for everybody. The real accomplishment Cretton and his actors pull off is conveying such an optimistic message that feels unforced and realistic. You should go see this, it’s probably the best film on release right now not directed by Woody Allen.