Spring Catch-up

The Lego Movie (dir. Phil Lord & Chris Miller) is a complete triumph; a wholly satisfying adventure equal parts charming, inventive and hilarious. Lord & Miller are now three-for-three with their directing credits, taking a potentially dubious premise and crafting a pitch-perfect family comedy. It’s awesome.

300: Rise of an Empire (dir. Noam Murro) seemed to satisfy my audience, stylishly violent, unashamedly stupid and a fair pre/side/sequel to Zack Snyder’s homoerotic masterpiece. My biggest gripe, to repeat this summer with the next Sin City, is that so much time has elapsed between entries that any initial enthusiasm for a return to these worlds has pretty much collapsed. There’s a narrow window of opportunity for this sort of follow-up, a window that’s long since slammed shut. Travel back in time to about 2009 with Rise of an Empire and maybe I’d be more interested.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (dir. Wes Anderson) is another small triumph of uncompromising and unapologetic individuality, beautifully crafted in Wes Anderson’s customary style, clipped dialogue and expert-timing from the ensemble. If you’re not on board the train after eight films, it’ll likely never happen, but I continue to find no small amount of joy in each minor treat dished up by Anderson and his collaborators.

Non Stop (dir. Jaume Collet-Serra), a breezy, enjoyably dim-witted Liam Neeson thriller that probably marks the trashy highpoint of his recent action romps, or at least the first since Taken to roll with the inherent dumbness of its concept and fashion it into a watchable piece of American cheese. I was reminded a little of a mid-series episode of 24.

Under the Skin (dir. Jonathan Glazer) suggests that all the recent superlatives thrown at Scarlett Johansson following Spike Jonze’s Her be reinforced and electrified in her role as ‘nameless man-harvesting alien discovering soul’. Glazer’s film seems to be splitting people into two camps, but for my money it’s a fascinating watch, and probably the most striking and instantly memorable out-of-competition feature I’ve seen this spring. It really is every bit as terrific as all those critical raves suggest, stunning to look at, gripping and unsettling of mood, ambient electronic crackling buzzing and whirring over the horrific imagery. I’m in love.

The Zero Theorem (dir. Terry Gilliam) is no miraculous return-to-form for Gilliam after a shaky decade, but it’s nice to see him in playful mood, running wild with the cheapo set and costume design, blessed with a sporting lead in Christoph Waltz and tinkering around some interesting ideas again. It’s a mess, never finding the central thrust to make the satire gel, but I’m happier spending ninety disappointing minutes with Gilliam than whole lifetimes with lesser filmmakers.