Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Crisp Criticism - "Straight Outta Compton", "A Walk in the Woods", "We Are Your Friends", "Ricki and the Flash", "Heaven Knows What"

Julien Faddoul

Straight Outta Compton

The group NWA emerges from the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, California, in the mid-1980s and develops Hip Hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.
Overlong, obviously sanitized hagiography with an abundance of sleekness in its first act and cinematic ineptitude by its third. The film ends up relying so heavily on cheesiness and clichés that taking it seriously becomes unfeasible.

d – F. Gary Gray
w – Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus
ph – Matthew Libatique
pd – Shane Valentino
m – Joseph Trapanese
ed – Billy Fox, Michael Tronick
cos – Kelli Jones

p – Matt Alvarez, Scott Bernstein, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, David Engel, F. Gary Gray, Tomica Woods-Wright, Bill Straus

Cast: O'Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins, Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown Jr, Jason Mitchell, Paul Giamatti

A Walk in the Woods

Two men decide the best way to connect with their homeland is to hike the Appalachian Trail.
A movie that gives us two contemptuous characters with nothing interesting to say as they bond over life’s many ironies. Exceedingly dull.

d – Ken Kwapis
w – Rick Kerb, Bill Holderman   (Based on the Novel by Bill Bryson)
ph – John Bailey
pd – Gae S. Buckley
m – Nathan Larson
ed – Julie Garces, Carol Littleton
cos – Leigh Leverett 

p – Chip Diggens, Bill Holderman, Robert Redford

Cast: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Nick Offerman, Kristen Schaal, Chrystee Pharris, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Hayley Lovitt, Derek Krantz, Andrew Vogel, Linds Edwards, R. Keith Harris, John Kap

We Are Your Friends *

Caught between a forbidden romance and the expectations of his friends, am aspiring DJ attempts to find the path in life that leads to fame and fortune.
Energetic, but far too familiar and dubious depiction of EDM culture that mistakes superficial slickness for critique.

d – Max Joseph
w – Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer, Richard Silverman
ph – Brett Pawlak
pd – Maya Sigel
m – Matt Simpson
ed – Terel Gibson
cos – Christie Wittenborn 

p – Liza Chasin, Tim Beaven, Eric Fellner

Cast: Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Wes Bentley, Nick Rotteveel, Alessandro Lindblad, Vanessa Lengies, Jon Abrahams, Shiloh Fernandez, Jon Bernthal

Ricki and the Flash *

A musician who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom returns home, looking to make things right with her family.
Structurally unusual and ultimately unconvincing comedy that offers thick layers of humanism without presenting them with ample tact. Its director, writer and star all luxuriate in their separate tics, all of which are engaging, at times even masterly, but the whole thing lacks the elegance to be as cathartic as it wants to be.

d – Jonathan Demme
w – Diablo Cody
ph – Declan Quinn
pd – Stuart Wurtzel
ed – Wyatt Smith
cos – Ann Roth

p – Mason Novick, Marc Platt

Cast: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Ben Platt, Rick Springfield, Sebastian Stan, Audra McDonald, Charlotte Rae, Nick Westrate

Heaven Knows What **

A young heroin addict roams the streets of New York to panhandle and get her next fix, while her unstable boyfriend drifts in and out of her life at random.
Junkie film that stands apart from the norm due to some superb handling. It depicts an easily recognizable world with an odd mix of “realism” verisimilitude and an abrasive aesthetic. It also gains immeasurably from its lead performance, whose life the film is based on.

d – Ben Safdie, Joshua Safdie
w – Ronald Bornstein, Joshua Safdie   (Inspired by the Book by Arielle Holmes)
ph – Sean Price Williams
pd – Audrey Turner
m – Paul Grimstad, Ariel Pink
ed – Ronald Bornstein, Ben Safdie

p – Sebastian Bear-McClard, Oscar Boyson

Cast: Arielle Holmes, Caleb Landry Jones, Eléonore Hendricks, Yuri Pleskun, Buddy Duress, Necro

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