Archive | 2013 RSS feed for this section

Newlyweeds (2013)

20 Jan

So I just got back from seeing Newlyweeds, the first feature film by director Shaka King, at the Sundance Film Festival 2013.  The film, being tagged as “the stoner’s romantic comedy” is really anything unlike I have seen before.  Take one part feel-good comedy, one-part romantic drama, and one-part stoner/drug movie and you get something like this.  It really is just a mess of ideas, characters and events that somehow tae shape and provide an interesting conclusion when the film is done.

Newlyweeds is centered around an African-American couple named Lyle and Nina.  Nina works at a local museum, and Lyle at a appliance-rental service.  We watch as the highs and lows of their relationship culminate and crash while they puff their hard-earned cash away by constantly smoking weed.  And there is A LOT of weed-smoking in this movie.

Their relationship takes a turn when a figure named Chino comes into play and tries to get the attention of Nina.  Meanwhile, lyle is struggling with his job trying to find the balance between being a supportive boyfriend and maintaining his drug habits.

While it is a drama of sorts, there is a hefty amount of comedy that weaves its way in and out of the film (usually involving your typical jokes about marijuana), but the laughs never really take center stage like they should.  Instead the film focuses too much on building events that never really take off.  In return, this leaves the film anti-climatic and emotionless.

While the wonderful dialogue and acting give the film a truly authentic feel, there is really nothing going on in the script for me to pay close attention too. The film feels more like a collage of short episodes, rather than an over-arching narrative and the ending just feels flat and unpolished. It is worth seeing, but nothing remarkable.

 

rating 6/10 

 

392749538_640

Gangster Squad (2013)

8 Jan

Gangster Squad is to films noir what The Avegners was to superhero flicks.

It is loud, explosive, fast paced and just good ol’ crime-fighting fun. Sure, it’s not the most intellectual piece of cinema, nor the most dramatic. But Gangster Squad gets it ferocity from it’s fast-paced, episodic action sequences, and a slew of great performances.

The casting here is remarkable and the drama is cleverly paced with welcome bouts of comedic timing. Sean Penn, as the ruthless crime leader Cohen, is at the top of his game. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are great together and Josh Brolin makes a whole-hearted likable good-guy (for once).

Added to the film’s style is a pitch-pefect retro look and beautiful Matrix-esc action scenes. The story is catered to meet modern audiences, but is still reminiscent of great films noir and gives heaping doses of thrills and emotion.  This film packs a violent punch and though not genre-defining, Gangster Squad is one of the best crime films I have seen in a long time.

rating 7/10 

gangster-squad-movie-image-sean-penn