I didn’t see that many films at the cinema in July, but one was a surprisingly well-made comedy, and an overlooked independent sci-fi gem from Sundance.
Directed By: Seth Gordon
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey
Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx
Next to the Jewish soldiers killing Hitler in “Inglorious Basterds” is their no other revenge fantasy as widely fantasized about as killing your boss is? “Horrible Bosses” takes that attractive concept and adds three friends (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekis, Charlie Day) who put the plan in motion when they decide enough is enough. Their idea however is more “Strangers on a Train” than “Inglorious Basterds.” Jason Bateman‘s boss is Kevin Spacey, a evil, manipulative executive whose wealth and power is used to crush Bateman‘s dreams of upper management. Spacey is a highlight, in a role he could sleepwalk in. Only Spacey could portray such a cold, heartless character and have it be comedy gold. Sudekis is manager of a factory who loves his job but is forced to work for an unrecognizably hilarious Colin Farrell, whose bald, fat, drugged up character leaves a lasting impact in his limited screen time. While Charlie Day, hilariously zany on Always Sunny in Philadelphia plays the clueless goofball working for a sexual harassing dentist played against-type by Jennifer Aniston whose nympho character Is even more hilariously raunchy than Cameron Diaz’s Bad Teacher. Aniston takes the role as an opportunity to be sexual and vulgar and succeeds admirably. Goddamn she is in good shape too! The other standout with limited screentime is Jamie Foxx as MotherF***er Jones, a murder expert whose back-stories are just as hilarious as his name. The movie has some classic one-liners even though the plot remains pretty point A to point B, including a pretty generic conclusion. The whole cast is fantastic and worth seeing the movie for, even if i don’t totally buy the three leads as high school buddies, who also don’t have any discernible friends or family. A dark comedy with a solid cast, is one of the better summer comedies, but didn’t give me, a hopeless drone working for a slave-driving boss, the fulfillment I thought it would.
Directed by: Mike Cahill
Starring: Brit Marling, William Mapother
Think of it has the low-budget, little brother “Tree of Life.” A film with a scientific concept more interested in raising philosophical questions about life, love, second-chances, our place in the universe, and redemption. Brit Marling in a standout debut as actress and co-writer of the film plays a young MIT student who kills a family in a drunk driving accident the same night the existence of a doppelganger Earth becomes visible in the sky. Fresh out of prison, she is the shell of her former self, quiet and guilt-ridden, eventually crosses paths with the father of the family she killed. Determined to apologize she is mistaken for a cleaning lady and the two form a relationship against the backdrop of Earth contacting the Earth 2, which is much more predominant in the sky. Sound confusing? It’s not. The film is a high-concept independent film that uses it’s sci-fi premise to tell a story about characters who are grief-stricken searching for meaning and answers in an unfair world. The film isn’t profound or life changing but it’s biggest success is taking a small-scale film and making it feel large scope with a good, original screenplay, brilliant acting, a dreamy soundtrack, and a simple special effect of a duplicate Earth floating overhead, which looks gorgeous especially in nighttime shots. The film is essentially a stage play with good chemistry from Marling and Mapother (an extremely underrated character actor) Simple scenes involving Nintendo Wii, the story of a Russian cosmonaut, and a metal saw all feel brilliantly real, are extremely well-acted, and give the film the emotional heart it needs. While, Brit Marling may not be there on Oscar night, this film is an indication she will be one day soon. A sci-fi film with heart, an independent film with ambition, with an ending that left me completely blindsided, hopefully this film will not go overlooked. On a different planet, this would be recognized as one of the best films of the year.