For many children of the ’80s, Sarah Polley will forever be thought of as Ramona Quimby, the 8-year-old protagonist of the Canadian TV series Ramona, based on
Judy Blume’s Beverly Cleary’s books. She has, I suppose, gone on to bigger things, starring in the likes of The Sweet Hereafter, Go, and Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake. She’s also made a name for herself as a director, and though Away From Her and Take This Waltz have been received with various approval, her latest work has earned her near universal acclaim. A pseudo-documentary, Stories We Tell explores Polley’s family and the potentially true inside joke that she has a different father than her siblings. Weaving in old family footage with modern interviews and Super 8 recreations, the film examines how narratives shape our existence, especially when dealing with a family of storytellers. It all looks very interesting and, if you place stock in aggregate measurements, it’s worth noting that the film currently holds the 9th highest score (a 90) for 2013 releases over at Metacritic.
With all the films that have “2″ tacked on to their titles this summer, it’s almost scandalous to have that number on the front end. Despite this revolutionary status, at first glance 2 Guns looks like a standard action comedy and little more. The film stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as lawmen with a testy past who team up to take down the folks who wronged them. More than just the titular number of firearms are utilized and all sorts of mayhem ensue, etc. etc. The kicker, however, is director Baltasar Kormákur, whose Jar City ranks among the finest Scandinavian detective exports in a crowded field. Not knowing that he previously directed Wahlberg in Contraband, I skipped that one, but his involvement here has me more curious than I probably should be, especially since no Icelandic cops are to be found here…at least I don’t think there are…
Annnnnd now we come to The Smurfs 2. Though I did watch the TV series a few times growing up, I have not seen 2011′s The Smurfs and feel under-qualified to approach a sequel, but will give it my best shot. The story involves the little blue creatures teaming up with their human friends (namely Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays, a.k.a. Miss Pillsbury from TV’s Glee) to help rescue Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry) from evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria). Brendan Gleeson joins the live-action cast and impressive vocal talent ranging from Jonathan Winters to Christina Ricci to Paul Reubens. I’ll probably go see what it’s all about on Wednesday, though I started lowering my expectations three months ago.
Fleeing the Scene
Only God Forgives and World War Z will be out Wednesday to make room for The Smurfs 2. On Friday, The Lone Ranger, Girl Most Likely, and Pacific Rim will join them in the ether. Smoke ‘em while you got ‘em.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation is the lone “big” release. It’s fine, but I’m more interested in Black Rock, which has been described as a female Deliverance. Directed by Katie Aselton (who also stars with Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth and co-wrote the screenplay with her husband, one Mark Duplass), the film hasn’t received great reviews, but is one I plan to judge for myself.
On Netflix Instant
Shut Up and Play the Hits, about the final LCD Soundsystem concert, is more interesting and inventive than the average concert film. Even if you’re unfamiliar with their music (I’ve only heard one album), it’s still an engaging view. Also of note is Christopher Plummer’s one-man performance in Barrymore, essentially a filmed play of the veteran actor playing John Barrymore, but likewise goes beyond that genre’s limitations. Feel free to read my review (B+) of the film over at DVD Snapshot.
Other options are Lore, a difficult yet somewhat rewarding WWII film told from the German youth angle, and The Collection, an absolutely awful attempt at a horror film that looks especially weak after seeing The Conjuring. Proceed with great caution.