A year after their father’s funeral, three brothers travel across India by train in an attempt to bond with each other. (IMDb)
The estranged brother dynamic is well-written in the dryly humourous first act as keener Francis initiates their adventure, secrets are leaked, and the backstory is patiently exposited. The rest of the film loses some momentum (despite great music, slow-mo, and tracking shots) thanks to too many vaguely significant but unsubstantiated scenes (see the unearned melodrama of Jack’s farewell to Rita), though the dramatic tragedy of the second act (“He’s all bloody!”) certainly isn’t one of them.
An urbane fox cannot resist returning to his farm raiding ways and then must help his community survive the farmers’ retaliation. (IMDb)
Every scene is a delectably detailed diorama, brought to life by endlessly creative animation, perfect voice acting, and marvelous music (a fun soundtrack plus tear-jerking classical crescendos-see Rat’s redemption), while a tight script (the wolf encounter is a real cherry on top) showcases remarkable characterization (see the angsty Ash), thoughtful drama (see Mr. and Mrs. Fox’s standoff), and a fascinating anthropomorphic vs. wild animal thematic thread alongside its heaps of quirky humour.
A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out to find them. (IMDb)
The beautiful forested island scenery dotted with hip 60s aesthetic (hello, portable turntable) paired with Anderson’s impeccable visual flair and love for detail is a match made in movie heaven. Sam and Suzy, meanwhile, lead an elope plot that is as captivating (the flood side-story adds a great sense of impending doom to the forbidden love; Desplat’s mournful score is wonderful) and tragic (the leads’ parent issues add great depth) as it is cute (see the book-reading; culminating beach shot).
A successful psychotherapist loses his mind after one of his most dependent patients, a manipulative, obsessively compulsive narcissist, tracks him down during his family vacation. (IMDb)
The character dynamic at the core of this film is comedic gold: A severely anxious patient (the fantastic Murray’s endearingly naive Bob) obtains a new psychiatrist (Dreyfuss’ high-strung Leo) and clambers for attention while all the doc wants to do is get rid of him so he can enjoy his vacation. As the patient persists (and improves) in blissful ignorance, the doc goes crazy. It’s a plot that reaches preposterous proportions (“Death Therapy, Bob!”) but never loses its original character humour.
7.5/10 (Really Good)
The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. (IMDb)
The visuals are so remarkably entrancing and vibrantly varied here (hotels, prisons, mansions, and mountaintops) that you find yourself as excited to see what the next scene looks like as much as what happens in it–and that’s not to say the writing is sub-par: Within a cute 4-tiered narrative, a wild and wacky plot of murder, money, and escape takes place with plenty of quirky characters (Fiennes is fantastic) and well-placed bits of goofiness and expletives that break up the dazzling dialogue.
An exclusive golf course has to deal with a brash new member and a destructive dancing gopher. (IMDb)
With only the most minimal of plots, Caddyshack is more a series of comedy sketches set on a golf course than anything else, so when they don’t hit home, it feels pretty bland, but when they do, it’s quite entertaining–and with a great set of characters (Chase’s mellow Ty, Dangerfield’s obnoxious Al, Knight’s uppity Smails, Murray’s offbeat Carl) it usually is. Smails’ tantrums and Carl’s strange ramblings (his long scene with Ty is uproarious) are two particular standout aspects here.
The extracurricular king of Rushmore preparatory school is put on academic probation. (IMDb)
Anderson’s expertly artful direction (beautiful framing, distinct and thoughtful camerawork, and yummy set/character details) and oft-oddball script (“I’ll take Punctuality”; “I’ll take the tuna fish”) here is filled out nicely by a set of complex characters (led by the ambitious adult-teen hybrid Max) and nuanced (if not super deep) relationships within a solid dramedy script, providing the viewer with nearly as many emotional moments of satisfaction (“That’s my Max!”) as pure cinematic ones.
With a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner, oceanographer Steve Zissou rallies a crew that includes his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may or may not be his son. (IMDb)
Visually, a delight (clashing underwater animation aside), with its meticulously crafted sets, distinct costumes, and cheeky screenplay (lots of incidental eating) captured by beautifully-framed shots. This marvelous aesthetic is complimented nicely by a mellow soundtrack (Jorge is great) and excellent deadpan humour. The dry script delivery doesn’t work as well with the drama–it mostly fails to engage, despite great turns from Murray and Blanchett–but a moving climax helps to entrench it a bit.
7.5/10 (Really Good)
A policeman white blood cell, with the help of a cold pill, must stop a deadly virus from destroying the human they live in, Frank. (IMDb)
The film’s central premise is fun and the screenplay takes full advantage of it with lots of creative spins on the idea of the body as parts of a city, as well as numerous funny “inside jokes”. Murray is good as the super gross and neglectful dad and provides some great bits of humour, but other parts of the live action bits fall flat. The animation also feels cheesy and the plot is pretty bland, but overall the film is worth a watch just for the imaginative concept and witty script.
The “unlikely friendship” story here lends itself to predictability, and even some specifics of its climax are telegraphed in an early scene thanks to its title, but it remained powerful in its message and emotional pull (I bawled), largely thanks to Murray’s wonderful performance as Vincent- a well-written character that adds some unexpected grit to the film by going beyond the cliche grumpy but loveable old man. Watts and Lieberhe are also good in this predictable but poignant and funny film.
7.5/10 (Really Good)