Thursday, May 5, 2011

At the Movies – May 2011 – Part 3: This Month’s Best Films

Must See of the Month:

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick) – Drama – May 27 [limited]
The film is about a family with the three boys living in the 1950s. The eldest son grows up losing the innocence of childhood, replaced by disillusion, and his wanting to regain meaning in his life. Writer-director Terrence Malick makes extraordinary films with both a visual and emotional mastery, but he does not prescribe the Hollywood narrative structure, which does make his films less accessible to many average movie-goers. But it should not, as his work is brilliant and vibrant. He is again working with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki who shot The New World for him. Their collaboration yielded a visceral visual experience with nature and the setting of each scene playing as big a role in the film as any character. Their past collaboration produced truly excellent work (which makes me so excited that they are working together again, and Lubezki shot Children of Men for Alfonso Cuaron which is also visually amazing). Also returning from The New World is production designer Jack Fisk, who also worked on Malick’s third film The Thin Red Line (Fisk’s return also makes me very happy, as Tree of Life promises to be a visual treat). Wonderful composer Alexandre Desplat (The King’s Speech) is scoring the film. All in all, the crew is very good – as is the cast. Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain (who is looking to have a breakout year with this film, The Fields in July, The Help in August, and The Debt in the fall) star, with Fiona Shaw in a supporting role. Aesthetically, there is no question this is the film to see in May (or June depending where you live). Terrence Malick is maybe the best auteur filmmaker working today in terms of using visuals more so than story to create emotions in the viewer. And with such a great cast and crew, this is the must see of the month, and probably among the top five must sees for 2011. Check out the trailer. Review.

Worth Checking Out:

The Hangover Part II (Todd Phillips) – Comedy – May 26
The film is about the Wolf Pack getting together again, as Stu is getting married. The gang travels to Bangkok for the wedding only to find themselves in yet another post-blackout misadventure (don’t you hate it when that happens). Writer-director-producer Todd Phillips is back, as are composer Christopher Beck, cinematographer Lawrence Sher, production designer Bill Brzeski, and stars Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, and (of course) Mike Tyson. Basically, all the pieces that made the first so much fun are back, only substituting Vegas for the even bigger capital of debauchery Bangkok (be that true or perceived, I mean there is this song after all) – and why mess with a winning formula. The cast also features Jamie Chung and Mason Lee (as well as potential and rumored cameos). Phillips and company are going full out on this sequel, which normally would probably be a mistake – but with this film, making everything bigger and crazier is a necessity. Will it work? I hope so. This has the potential to be very funny and the best comedy of the year (as it looks pretty hilarious based on the trailer). It also has the potential to be an overdone self-aggrandized mess. Check out the trailer. Review.

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