Monday, July 30, 2012

Movies: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Indie Game: The Movie & Safety Not Guaranteed

I often read how there are no good films being made, which to me is simply a lazy observation, in addition to being untrue. I use the term "lazy" because to find films that are worthwhile you have to put in effort (this is actually true of anything worthwhile in life).

Here are three films released thus far in 2012 that I think are among the best of the year.

I'm not going to say too much about any of them. I've come to a point where if a film interests me prior to me seeing it, I tend to shut out any information about it (trailers, articles, reviews, etc.), so that when I do see it I see it fresh, like I used to in the pre-internet days. I find it makes for a better experience at the movies. I'm providing you the same courtesy.

Presented here in no particular order...

- Safety Not Guaranteed -

"There's no sense in nonsense. Especially when the heat gets hot."

A magazine writer and two interns head out on an assignment to find and interview someone who placed a classified ad which reads: "Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed". There's your high-concept, but the film isn't a one-joke exercise. Instead it's a terrific comic character study and bittersweet romance.

Aubrey Plaza does a nice turn in the lead as the intern Darius, imbuing her usual onscreen sardonic persona with a layer of sadness that fits quite nicely.

- Beasts of the Southern Wild -

Likely the best child performance I've ever seen, by Quvenzhané Wallis -- at the time 6-years old and a non-actor, playing Hushpuppy. Completely real. I like that the film didn't condescend to the emotions expressed by Hushpuppy, in particular when she's angry (and she has much to be angry about). The film never presents her anger in an "awww, cute" fashion. Her high pitched scream might seem contradictory, but her facial expressions and posture when she delivers it show it to be entirely appropriate as the vocal weapon her tiny body can muster.

- Indie Game: The Movie -

Are video games art? Is it healthy to define yourself through your work? Can a couple of unknowns make an entertaining, heartfelt documentary film via a Kickstarter campaign that ends up being one of the best films of the year?

For the lazy, this film provides almost no barrier to viewing it. You must be on an internet-connected computer if you're reading this, so I'm providing you with the link to buy and download the film. Click this link, lazybones! You'll be glad you did.

Watch all three of these movies, and then tell me again how there are no good films being made, hypothetical naysayer. I dare you.