Probably the best film out right now, in our market, is Blackfish, an engrossing documentary about the death of a trainer at SeaWorld. The doc begins with promotional material and personal endorsements from former trainers. It gradually intersperses coverage and investigations of trainer Dawn Brancheau’s death, and then reveals the machinations behind the amazing fun park’s veneer. It’s somewhat manipulative, but highly effective. Viewers are immediately drawn into what makes SeaWorld so enchanting, so the reveal hits that much harder. Blackfish is showing at The Spectrum in Albany.
Spanish language Instructions Not Included is, amazingly, also available locally – at several Regal cinemas. A simple father-daughter dramedy, it’s noteworthy for demonstrating that foreign language films absolutely can enjoy wide mainstream appeal, and is likely successful largely due to the universal themes it embraces. Instructions has made news, and turned industry heads, by ranking 3rd in North American box office receipts last weekend, while not only being a foreign language film, but also only showing in just over 700 theaters, about one quarter of a typical wide release film.
Other good films out now:
Riddick. The third film reverts to what made the first film such a cult success. You get exactly what you expect, and it’s done well. Near the beginning of the film, Diesel’s character explicitly acknowledges as much, saying he (meaning, ‘they’) made a “misstep” somewhere along the way, and need to “start from zero.” Trying to turn the franchise into something galactic, as they did in Chronicles, was a mistake – Riddick works.
The World’s End, The Butler, Elysium, We’re the Millers, The Conjuring, The Wolverine and 2 Guns, are all still out. Each is a fine example of it’s genre critically speaking and/or in terms of public response.
Blue Jasmine, The Spectacular Now, and In A World are newer films that seem to be impressing, and are still in theaters.
And then there’s these:
The Family and Insidious 2 are opening, and already not making the grade, while Getaway and Closed Circuit have been around, and may fade fast. Each may fulfill genre fans needs, but not much else.
The Family’s trailer looks very promising, but the film falls flat somewhere around the opening credits. Even the opening title sequence itself looks like it was made on a school computer. Those gonzo antics in the trailer somehow ring with a dull thud in execution, and nothing seems important or tense most of the way along. At times, the dialogue feels very 10 cent detective novel, or tortured novelist, and it starts to work, but there’s not enough of it. There’s very little that’s even remotely funny, which is sad given the setup’s potential. As a Luc Besson film, the finale requires action, explosions, and some comeuppance – so you get something for your 10 dollars.
Closed Circuit has an intriguing premise, builds tension well, and gives an engaging exposition on the British version of secret trials for terrorists, but assaults us with hackneyed direction, ham-fisted camerawork, and incredibly thin character development which would have been better just cut out completely. Clive Owen’s character’s wife appears in two scenes, his son in just one. It’s a pointless waste of time, and comes off as forced and amateurish. It also has probably the worst ‘climax’ in any thriller ever made. It’s a good film, if you’ve run out of sleeping pills.