The Kansas City Film Critics Circle gave out its 47th Annual Loutzenhiser Awards on Sunday, December 15th. Go here for the full list of winners.
At KC Active this month:
Me = One Happy Geek!
I did an interview with Jen Chaney for The Dissolve, about critics’ awards. I just got one quote, but it’s good publicity for the KC critics.
My latest in The Star
Occasionally, I read books that deal with movies or movie-related themes, and I think “Gee, other people might want to know about these!” So, this page will feature information and brief reviews of books of special interest to aficionados of cinema.
First up, Marisha Pessl’s Night Film.
When the daughter of cult filmmaker Stanislas Cordova commits suicide, journalist Scott McGrath is certain there’s more to the story. Disgraced after making unproven accusations against Cordova years ago, Scott is determined to uncover the “truth” about this mysterious character, whose films are so disturbing, they literally change the lives of those who view them.
Cordova is sort of a cross between David Lynch, Lars Von Trier and Michael Haneke, and his fans give new meaning to the word “fanatic.” As he investigates, Scott is pulled deeper and deeper into a world that messes with his sanity, and Pessl uses faux newsclippings and film stills to provide a spooky backdrop throughout (get the print version, not the e-book).
Night Film isn’t give-you-nightmares scary, but it is plenty creepy, a neo-Gothic mystery that may or may not have supernatural elements. Pessl is cagey about that last point, dragging the story out to a vague conclusion that I’m still not entirely sold on. Up until that point, reading Night Film is a harrowing, ultimately cathartic, experience, not unlike Cordova’s movies are reputed to be.
Read It If You Like: Freaky cult filmmakers, freaky cult fans, heavy atmosphere, partial resolutions.
Would It Make a Good Movie?: Absolutely. Some Cordova-like director should get on that.
I review Gravity, Prisoners, Enough Said, Don Jon & Inequality for All
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s triple-threat debut:
Director: Klay Hall
Writer: Jeffrey M. Howard
Voice Cast: Dane Cook as Dusty Crophopper, Stacy Keach as Skipper, Brad Garrett as Chug, Teri Hatcher as Dottie, Roger Craig Smith as Ripslinger, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Rochelle, Carlos Alazraqui as El Chupacabra, Priyanka Chopra as Ishani, John Cleese as Bulldog
Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes
IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1691917/
Plot: Lowly crop duster Dusty dreams of flying in an around-the-world race, and enlists a retired fighter plane to help him prepare.
I can just imagine the pitch meeting for Planes. “You know how Cars is nobody’s favorite Pixar movie? Let’s make another one just like it, but with airplanes and less famous actors!” Dane Cook’s Dusty Crophopper isn’t nearly as arrogant as Owen Wilson’s Lightning McQueen (maybe it’s the difference in star power), he still follows the template of oh-so-many cartoon heroes before him. In fact, all the characters are pretty much interchangeable – with previous variations and with each other.
Despite its flaws, Cars engaged in the inventive world-building that has always made Pixar’s efforts such a joy to watch. Even Cars 2 continued that thrilling visual style, as muddled and overblown as it was in every other respect. Planes doesn’t bother making the effort, except to give eyes and voices to every vehicle. The animation is only impressive when it’s moving, especially in the POV aerial shots, which will make you want to get a pilot’s license. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend paying extra for the 3D, but those scenes are damned impressive in the format.
As far as the plot goes, Planes is the movie Cars 2 should have been. It has an admirable efficiency, sticking to the race storyline with few distractions. That doesn’t make up for the lack of imagination, but it does make the blandness go by a little faster.
I got to review Now You See Me, The East, Monsters University & Much Ado About Nothing