As of yesterday, the 15th Tribeca Film Festival has gone, and with it a solid collection of movies of all shapes and sizes. This year I was lucky enough to catch some of the films myself, and had a great time with my choices. I passed over some of the most exciting options (Slow West, Maggie, Good Kill) because they come out in theaters next month, and a few other options (The Wolfpack, Mojave) sold out before I could get tickets. Even so, I still found my way to a few great movies, all of which were good and all of which I would recommend once they get released.
Last year, I found myself very skeptical/uncertain about the prospects for Star Wars Episode VII, and wrote about it as such. While I dearly wanted and hoped for it to be good, I just felt like I didn’t know enough about it to form a definitive opinion. It’s amazing what 3 ½ minutes of new footage and minor story details can do for your state of mind, but I am as on board for this film as I’ve ever been and I fully expect it to be one of my favorites this year. But the rebirth of Star Wars in my soul hasn’t been limited just to my increasing hope for Force Awakens. Just in the last year the whole franchise has begun to redefine and refocus itself to wonderful results. While I loved the original Expanded Universe when I was younger, I’m very happy to see it start anew now, and even happier to see all of the ways that the Star Wars universe is being successfully explored
Despite my overall (and usually enthusiastic) fandom for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the one area where my attention has been lacking is their television shows. With apologies to Agents Carter and of SHIELD, I’ve just never been able to arrest my attention on either of them for any real length of time, and I know I’ve missed out on some great narrative developments for the universe as a whole. I took a step towards rectifying that by marathoning all of Marvel’s Daredevil not too long ago. While the series is markedly different than anything in the MCU so far, I also think it makes for a very good addition to the world, a great expansion of the mythos, and a damn good story in its own right. It’s taken me awhile to actually organize my thoughts on this show enough to put together a post about it, mostly because on a thematic, emotional level, it makes for a very murky and uncertain story, but in a way that is fully earned by its leads. Ultimately, what makes the series stand out from its Marvel brethren and provides new thematic layers to the universe overall all come down to the characters of Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, and the Catholic-style guilt/righteousness that defines them.
Perhaps it’s appropriate that a film that centers on robotic intelligence would be driven by such a cool, intellectual tone. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Ex Machina is more of a cerebral puzzle than an emotional catharsis. I certainly wouldn’t argue that the tone and aesthetic of Ex Machina are wrong, or that they aren’t effectively utilized. Indeed, the entire film is very finely calibrated, with all elements working in concert in service to the story being told. But in spite of (or more likely because of) this, I still find myself somewhat detached from Ex Machina. While I greatly admire the film Alex Garland has made and think that it is successful on many levels, I’m not sure if I really loved it, or didn’t love it, or if I’m just pretending to love it.
The other day I saw someone ask on Reddit why the Fast and Furious series gets so much more respect than Michael Bay’s filmography when they seem to be very similar on the surface. The answer is that while yes, F&F is absurd and loud and flashy and obnoxious-capable, it also has a degree of earnest emotion and heart that none of Michael Bay’s movies have ever had. This is driven home perfectly by Furious 7, which admittedly is bolstered by having a 6-movie lead-in and the context of Paul Walker’s untimely death. And while this installment is a little rougher in the story department than the last two films, it more than makes up for it in catharsis. In the end Furious 7 reminds us that more than anything else, character is what makes for good movies, however high- or low-brow they are.
Much like the recently-departed month of March, April is mostly made up of indie fare with one or two larger studio efforts mixed in for overpowering flavor. While it’s hard not to feel like this is the calm before the storm, this month should still provide us with some nice options at the theater nevertheless, and one of my most anticipated movies of the year so far to boot. Let’s take a look!