Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Crisp Criticism - "American Ultra", "Pixels", "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials", "Jauja"

Julien Faddoul

American Ultra ***

A stoner and his girlfriend's sleepy, small-town existence is disrupted when a government operation sets to wipe him out.
A film with a lot to dislike: Murkily shot, absurdly plotted, blaringly shrill and thoroughly violent; as an action thriller it’s hardly cogent, stealing what it can from other films and unraveling twists in a frustrating manner. But as a romance, it's one of the most audacious, compassionate films of recent times, startlingly conveying the solitary love between a man and a woman and all its imperatives with two superb, perfectly cast leads. Despite its grotesquery, it penetrates one’s energy with a vivacity that seems timeless and will likely not be appreciated until many years from now. Make of it what you will.

d – Nima Nourizadeh
w – Max Landis
ph – Michael Bonvillain
pd – Richard Bridgland
m – Marcelo Zarvos
ed – Andrew Marcus, Bill Pankow
cos – David C. Robinson

p – David Alpert, Anthony Bregman, Kevin Scott Frakes, Britton Rizzio, Raj Brinder Singh

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Topher Grace, Tony Hale, John Leguizamo, Walton Goggins, Connie Britton, Bill Pullman, Michael Papajohn, Monique Ganderton


Video game experts are recruited by the military to fight 1980s-era video game characters who've attacked New York.
Ugly, despicable film with no intriguing characters, no original situations, no noticeable technique and no funny jokes. A hellish experience.

d – Chris Columbus
w – Tim Herlihy, Timothy Dowling   (Based on the Short Film by Patrick Jean)
ph – Amir Mokri
pd – Peter Wenham
m – Henry Jackman
ed – Hughes Winborne
cos – Christine Wada

p – Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Allen Covert, Mark Radcliffe, Adam Sandler

Cast: Adam Sandler, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Kevin James, Ashley Benson, Sean Bean, Jane Krakowski, Brian Cox, Matthew Lintz, Dan Aykroyd, Jackie Sandler, Dan Patrick, Robert Smigel, Anthony Ippolito, Affion Crockett, Lainie Kazan, Denis Akiyama

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.
Crazily boring young adult action sequel that takes the fastest road to clichéville.

d – Wes Ball
w – T.S. Nowlin   (Based on the Novel by James Dashner)
ph – Gyula Pados
pd – Daniel T. Dorrance
m – Joe Paesano
ed – Dan Zimmerman
cos – Sanja Milkovic Hays 

p – Marty Bowen, Eddie Gamarra, Wyck Godfrey, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Joe Hartwick Jr, Lee Stollman

Cast: Dylan O'Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Patricia Clarkson, Lili Taylor, Katherine McNamara, Nathalie Emmanuel, Alisha Heng, Barry Pepper, Lora Martinez-Cunningham, Rosa Salazar, Tatanka Means, Jacob Lofland, Dexter Darden, Keith Jardine, Jenny Gabrielle, Bryce Romero

Jauja **

A father and daughter journey from Denmark to an unknown desert that exists in a realm beyond the confines of civilization.
Opaque, Tarkovskyesque sonnet on political allegory. Beautiful shot, endlessly fascinating and ultimately enervating.

d – Lisandro Alonso
w – Lisandro Alonso, Fabian Casas
ph – Timo Salminen
ad – Sebastián Roses
m – Viggo Mortensen
ed – Gonzalo del Val, Natalia López

p – Ilse Hughan, Andy Kleinman, Viggo Mortensen, Sylvie Pialat, Jaime Romandia, Helle Ulsteen

Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Ghita Nørby, Viilbjork Mallin Agger, Adrián Fondari Esteban Bigliardi, Diego Román Harillo, Mariano Arce, Misael Saavedra, Gabriel Marquez, Brian Patterson

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