Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Action Songs for Orphaned Children

Pitch Perfect: adapted by Kay Cannon from the novel by Mickey Rapkin; directed by Jason Moore; starring Anna Kendrick (Beca), Skylar Astin (Jesse), Ben Platt (Benji), Brittany Snow (Chloe), Anna Camp (Aubrey) and Rebel Wilson (Fat Amy) (2012): Surprisingly witty sleeper about college a cappela groups that's already become a cult hit

There's a certain amount of slightly subversive humour -- unlike Glee, the movie takes many of its comedy cues from Animal House -- in this, along with an awful lot of people in their late 20's and early 30's playing students ten years younger. Rebel Wilson steals most of her scenes as Fat Amy. Recommended.

 

The Kid: written and directed by Charles Chaplin; starring Charles Chaplin (The Tramp), Jackie Coogan (The Child), and Edna Purviance (The Woman) (1921): Chaplin's first self-written, self-directed feature made him the world's biggest box-office star. And it holds up today, with winning performances by Chaplin and then-6-year-old Jackie Coogan, who would go one from this to be one of the biggest child stars of the 1920's.

There's even a very odd dream sequence towards the end of the film, along with a lightning-quick wrap-up that pretty much encapsulates how quickly filmmakers ended their movies in the Good Old Days. And even if you don't like it, it's only an hour long! Highly recommended.

 

The Expendables 2: written by Richard Wenk, Ken Kaufman, David Agosto, Dave Callaham, and Sylvester Stallone; directed by Simon West; starring Sylvester Stallone (Barney Ross), Jason Statham (Lee Christmas), Dolph Lundgren (Gunnar Jensen), Jean-Claude Van Damme (Vilain), Terry Crews (Hale Caesar), Randy Couture (Toll Road), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Trench), Bruce Willis (Church), Jet Li (Yin Yang), Nan Yu (Maggie), Liam Hemsworth (Billy the Kid), and Chuck Norris (Booker) (2012): The classic 1980's action vibe starts to get drowned out about midway through this second Expendables movie by a seemingly endless series of unfunny metafictional guest appearances and comments.

It's not that one expects the movie to play things straight. But if you're going to drop jokes about the action movies the various actors have previously appeared in, it would be nice if they were funnier jokes. A Chuck Norris appearance isn't inherently funny. Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis crowded together in a SmartCar is funny, but the joke vanishes in the obligatory, overly long climax, which involves a lot of shooting and a lesson on why one doesn't bring a knife to a chain fight. Lightly recommended for action-movie fans; everyone else should steer clear.

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