Awards Season Feature Post

Awards Season 2015-16 Scoreboard

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Oct 28, 2013

Quick Takes: Hello I Must Be Going, Men in Black 3 and Wreck-It Ralph

Hello I Must Be Going (2012)

           Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner, John Rubinstein, Christopher Abbott and Julie White

                   Todd Louiso

                 Hello I Must Be Going is a 2012 indie comedy drama that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. I am quite a fan of these Sundance movies as I always mention but it is quite rare for a movie with that tag to still come off as refreshing and determined to do something new. That isn't to say that this movie is groundbreaking but the level of sincerity and affection you get to see in this film for the characters is pretty hard to find when in most of such films, the characters are pretty self-centered and annoying little brats. Amy (Lynskey) is a 30-something woman who is going through a dry spell in terms of her life and relationships. She is currently living with her father and mother in their posh house after being divorced by her husband for another woman. Her father, Stan (Rubinstein) is an attorney who wants to retire and live his life peacefully while her mother, Ruth (Danner) is the usual rich and spending housewife. You can see how much they want their daughter to move out of their house and find something of her own, to grow up and have a life. Specially Ruth comes off at first as someone who is dying to kick out her daughter from the house she wants all to herself and her husband. Later, you can clearly see that they want what is best for their daughter. Amy meets a young boy named Jeremy (Abbott) during the family dinner who is the step-son of an investor. Despite the huge age difference, they start seeing each other. They make out in unusual places or just lie and talk endlessly about life and this strange relationship grows. They are both lost souls at somewhat of an opposite spectrum. If Amy has just given up on herself and is letting others to control her life, Jeremy is rebelling against all those things. Their affair which obviously they hide from everyone, never comes across as weird. Strangely though, Amy seems like the younger one and Jeremy as the more mature so it is both a dysfunctional and at the same time, an understandable bond.

                 Melanie Lynskey is the heart and soul of this film. The actress has been around in the film and TV industry but this is probably her most significant role ever. Lynskey provides the much needed sweetness to her character, Amy comes across as a person who needs love and a direction in life. She needs help but only to an extent that would make her realize the potential she has in herself. Lynskey's light approach and her quietly resonating performance seems a perfect fit for the character she is playing. Lynskey perfectly encapsulates the emotions her character is feeling in her moments of self-doubt, loneliness, agitation, happiness or whether she is feeling lost, sad, lusty. She pulls it off quite well. There is also Blythe Danner who gives a worthy performance. The scene where Ruth reveals her hopes and dreams to Amy is a highlight. Her character is very on the nose and someone who might say the right thing for your sake but in that moment, it always comes across is an obnoxious criticism. There is Christopher Abbott whose work on the HBO's series "Girls" is something I liked. His character in this movie is like a grown up version of himself from the future. He wants to seize the day but is too caught up in those things to fully see what his current life is heading towards. Which is the opposite for Amy since she cannot see anything at all. Her life is at a still point, everything seems stopped. What Amy needs is love, unconditional love where she doesn't have to pay for the affection she gets. Through that she somehow finds happiness towards the end. There have been such movies around where the main character is having a delayed awakening and misdirection in life after a tragedy. Rarely have all of that been captured with such honesty and rawness. This film is at times, both funny and sad. It is hitting as much as it appeals. The characters are all at certain points in their life where they want one thing but something is stopping them from achieving that. Amy is the odd one out but then she ends up getting the most out of it. Beautifully written if not fully realized direction, there is this sense of mismatch but never too overwhelming. You will love those moments where the characters just talk whether it is during a fight or under the night sky, in the bedroom, during the dinner or in the car. Never too light-hearted nor overtly dramatic, Hello I Must Be Going is both an engaging character study as well as an indie romantic drama.

Grade: B

Men in Black 3 (2012)

           Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Nicole Scherzinger, Mike Colter, Michael Chernus, Alice Eve, David Rasche, Lanny Flaherty, Keone Young, Bill Hader, Cayen Martin and Lady Gaga

                   Barry Sonnenfeld

                 This third film in the Men in Black series was released last year. I have personally never been a big fan of this series but the chemistry between the two main actors is what appeals to me the most. After seeing this film, I don't think it was worth making another one. But then there are so many unnecessary sequels and prequels been made that you simply don't care much. Even for a series with better installments, one always fear that it might be ruined by making pointless sequels. Men in Black 3 is an improvement over the awful second film in the series but this is nowhere as good as the first one. I hope they don't make another one. But they will, they always do. So Men in Black 3 begins with Boris the Animal (Clement) who is the last Boglodite, escaping from Lunarmax prison. He was put there in 1969 by Agent K (Lee Jones) who was also responsible for many other things that happened to Boris and with his people. Thanks to a time travel device, Boris plans to kill K before he can arrest him. A day after an argument that Agent J (Smith) has with Agent K, he finds out that he is the only person who remembers K who does not exist anymore due to the obvious reason. J gets the same "time jump" device to travel back in time and Kill young Boris before the future one arrives. There he meets young K (Brolin) and after a rocky start, they get along pretty well. The plot continues from there on when they have to do exactly the same things that have already been done before to ensure the safety of earth.

                 The real highlight of this film is Josh Brolin as young K. He is the perfect Tommy Lee Jones. Quite believable in his role as he gets those expressions, style, accent and little moments right. It is almost scary to see how one actor is able to do that. Brolin was the best thing about this film. On the other hand, Will Smith tries the best he can to re-create the goofiness and humor that he was once known for but only to minor success. Tommy Lee Jones is likable in his minor appearance. There is Michael Stuhlbarg who plays the role of Griffin, an alien who can tell exactly what is going to happen in the coming future. He gives a very sympathetic performance and you feel for him even though his role isn't that much significant on the whole but he leaves a mark. There is Emma Thompson as well, as commanding as ever. The cast tries to do the best they can to individually try to give this film the much needed charm. The chemistry between the leads that drove this series is there but has slightly worn out by now. The time travel concept is getting old as well, the implication here is to create nostalgia. Presenting all of that in a cool 'time jump' format still doesn't make it sound hip. The humor in this film isn't that strong but still enjoyable in a limited way. The visual effects and makeup design is good. Same old goofy, wacky and silly stuff. The aliens and monsters are both grossly funny and hilariously gross. The pacing and momentum of this film is not always interesting. Men in Black 3 is not a failure though it is a minor work that nonetheless exists. It is fun but not very funny and still it doesn't quite bore you down with its getting-old humor. There is also an emotionally moving scene towards the end of the movie that really gets you. I was caught surprised at that moment, it worked to be honest even if the entire movie didn't.

Grade: C+

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Voice Cast:
                       John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Joe Lo Truglio, Ed O'Neill, Dennis Haysbert, Edie McClurg, Raymond Persi, Jess Harnell, Rachael Harris, Skylar Astin, Adam Carolla, Horatio Sanz, Maurice LaMarche, Stefanie Scott, John DiMaggio, Rich Moore, Katie Lowes, Jamie Elman, Josie Trinidad, Cymbre Walk, Brandon Scott, Tim Mertens, Kevin Deters, Gerald C. Rivers, Martin Jarvis, Brian Kesinger, Roger Craig Smith, Phil Johnston, Kyle Hebert, Reuben Langdon and Jamie Sparer Roberts

                    Rich Moore

                 Wreck-It Ralph is a 3D animated action comedy by Disney Studios. It is on par with their recent efforts. On paper, it sounds a lot like Toy Story meets The Avengers and it kind of is. This film however is a heaven for all the old school game enthusiasts, young or old. I have never been one of them, never played any of those significantly popular games but they always had a presence and I am mostly familiar with them. Wreck-It Ralph is about the titular character who is a villain in the game "Fix-It Felix, Jr.", where as evident, he destroys things. This world of gaming comes alive every night when Litwak's Arcade is close down. Every character is free to leave their roles and travel to other games where they can influence things so they have to be careful. Wreck-It Ralph might be a bad guy but during a support group session for video game antagonists, he reveals his desire to be a hero. There you can spot many characters that have been around in our lives and that is only the beginning since there are numerous other cameos and full-fledged roles of some of the most beloved characters. Ralph finds out that everyone else is celebrating the game's 30th anniversary but he wasn't invited. When he crashes in, the characters doesn't let him have the cake and instead, tell him to earn a medal in order to earn their respect. He causes a chaos there and then leaves. Ralph meets a soldier from the first-person shooter "Hero's Duty". He decides to enter and play the game upon hearing that the winner gets a medal. He causes chaos there as well and as he reaches the medal, one of the game's enemies, Cy-Bug hatches and clings on to him. Their own game is in danger of being shut down so Felix leaves to find Ralph. Ralph on the other hand has brought the danger with him to a Kart-racing game called "Sugar Rush" and there he meets a malfunctioning character called Vanellope von Schweetz. The plot continues to include several characters, their own purposes within several games and Ralph's quest to win the medal continues.

                 This animated film is a very fun ride, an entertaining and lovable family film. However it completely relies on cameos and references. A time comes when all these jokes becomes tiring. They can rely on that for so long. The visual effects, technical design and color-laden, eye popping graphics of those numerous games give it a desirable look. The characters feel a bit forced and their motivations a bit half-baked thanks to the pacing and propelling narration which always wants to move further and do more without truly establishing its current sub-plots first. Though the main character here is given enough and strong backdrop and you believe in him. That for me was the best part of this film where everything else was a mere distraction or in the plot, slew of opportunities for Ralph to prove his worth both as a hero and as a decent person. He might be the villain in a game and his job might be to destroy things, that is just what he does and not who he really is. It is a different take where you are rooting for the bad guy to save the day and are connecting with his desires. From his point of view, the good guys appear flawed. From their point of view, he is only a villain. Sarah Silverman as Vanellope von Schweetz gives one of the best voice performances with her character being the most heart touching. She is fun, funny, bubbly, rebel, angry, emotional and much more. John C. Reilly did a nice job as well giving his voice to the main character. There are others too like Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer. I really liked the attention to the details, every game was such a complex world of its own on surface. The look of this film is Pixar inspired but it is Modern-Disney all the way. The main plot and narration is very straight-forward. The reliance on nostalgia, cuteness, spot the character, results in a it-can-go-on-for-so-long type of entertainment. The unfocused story that loses its impact and its head at a certain point, never manages to come back. Still though, this is highly entertaining and colorful animated movie that everyone will have a good time with.

Grade: B-