Werner Herzog‘s new documentary takes viewers on a journey through the Internet. With stops as its birthplace and interviews with creators and early users, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World also examines current uses for the tool in robotics and automobiles as well as the voyeuristic and bullying aspects fed by the anonymity of its users (in one of the documentary’s most emotional interviews).
The journey also makes a stop in Green Bank, West Virginia where all transmissions are restricted by the law and at a hospital for Internet addiction. Looking further the film also discusses solar flares, hackers and internet security, dreams, missions to Mars, and the possibility of artificial intelligence. While not as cohesive as I’d like at times, nonetheless Herzog delivers a fascinating historical journey on the Internet and how it has affected humanity, for both good and ill, since its creation. Like it or not, it’s firmly woven into our daily life, and Herzog pulls up the rug to show both its more troubling aspects as well as where it might lead us in the future.
Notable mainly for its cast including a pair of Star Trek actors (Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart), Green Room is your basic wrong place, wrong time thriller when a broke band stumbles on a murder in the green room of a remote Neo-Nazi bar in the Northwest. With the help of a witness (Imogen Poots) to the murder, the band (Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner) barricade themselves in the green room in an attempt to hold off the inevitable as the club’s owner (Stewart) rounds up some of the gang’s less-savory types to clean-up the situation.
Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier delivers a fairly tense thriller featuring a cast of damaged individuals fighting for their lives against some pissed off Neo-Nazis. Other than Yelchin’s bassist, I’m not sure there’s a good person on-screen which means we’re interested to see what happens to the dickish rockers but not necessarily invested in rooting for or against them making it out alive. Stweart’s casting is intriguing as brains behind the outfit (although it’s fair to say he’s slumming it here).
The subject of Andrew Rossi proves to be more fascinating the the movie itself. Following the near-year-long process of creating The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most attended fashion exhibition in history, “China: Through The Looking Glass,” the highlights of the documentary are the exhibits themselves while the behind-the-scenes of time and budget constraints, the jockeying of celebrity attendees (without ever naming names), battles with China of the historical (not modern) nature of the exhibit, the struggle to pay the headline act, and the actual design of the various pieces in the exhibits aren’t explored in much more than superficial detail. Like much of the fashion it highlights, it’s great to look at but doesn’t always have much to say.
As a snapshot into a world most won’t ever see personally, The First Monday in May is interesting (if never all that compelling) look at some of the work that went into The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most profitable exhibit. Available on DVD and On-Demand.
The latest from stop-motion studio Laika is their best yet. Centered around a young boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson) known in the local village for his tremendous storytelling ability where his origami creations spring to life, the adventure gets started in earnest when Kubo learns that the stories passed down from his mother (Charlize Theron) about an evil Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) are all true. To save himself and stand-up to his grandfather, Kubo will have to complete the unfinished quest which destroyed his father.
In a year without a heavyweight favorite for best animated feature Kubo and the Two Strings makes a strong play for the title. Undeniably visually stunning, it’s the strength of its story that separate Kubo from some of Laika’s previous releases. Available on Blu-ray and DVD, extras include a pair of short featurettes on the film’s myth and the worldwide enterprise to make the film, a six-part behind-the-scenes making-of featurette, and commentary by director Travis Knight.
[Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Blu-ray $34.98 / DVD $29.98]
Moana is your typical Disney Princess animated feature set around the coming of age story of its heroine. Our title character is Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the daughter of a Polynesian chieftain (Temuera Morrison) who is drawn to the ocean despite her father’s strict rules about never journeying farther than the reef. However, circumstances force Moana to defy her father’s wishes and go in search of the legendary demi-god Maui (Dwayne “It’s Okay to Call Me The Rock Again” Johnson) whose help she will need to save her home from a decay that began centuries ago because of the god’s rash actions.
There’s so much wrong with Allied it’s hard to know where to start. At times director Robert Zemeckis‘ film is laughably, occasionally excruciatingly, bad. In its best moments Allied is ill-conceived, and it doesn’t have many of those.
The animated musical adventures center on the perpetually happy Trolls who are hunted by the miserable Bergens who believe the only happiness they can achieve is from eating the colorful creatures infatuated with hugs, dancing, singing, scrapbooking, cupcakes, and rainbows. When her loud party gets several of her friends captured, it falls on Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and the morose Branch (Justin Timberlake) to bring them home.
Trolls borrows several key elements of its plot from The Smurfs (such as an evil giant obsessed with eating the delicious creatures). Big and bright without being all that memorable, Trolls is more kiddie movie than true family fare.
The movie’s eclectic pop soundtrack features new songs by Timberlake and several recognizable tunes from the likes of Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, Kool & the Gang, and others. The big numbers and bright characters help make the predictable story a little easier to swallow. The movie is at best a modest success with a nice message for younger viewers about finding happiness within.
The teaser trailer for Cars 3 suggests a grittier sequel than some may have been expecting. Owen Wilson returns as the voice of Lightning McQueen who it appears will have to overcome some new challenges to prove he’s still the best racer around. As a huge fan of the first film, I’m intrigued to find out what Pixar has in store for the franchise. Cars 3 opens in theaters on June 16th.