It’s not often that three “summer” movies in a row live up to expectations, let alone surpass them. But that’s exactly what happened this past week in my little world.
1. Star Trek. At this point, I would call myself more of a J.J. Abrams fan than a Star Trek one. And I felt he came through again with this loving re-interpretation of the series. Yes, some of the characterization was a tad formulaic and the villains undercooked (it is Star Trek), but the chemistry among the principal players was undeniable, and the plot had enough “origin-story” charm to keep it interesting. The action sequences worked beautifully (esp the one on top of the drill), there was just the right amount of humor, and Tyler Perry made a surprise appearance. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah, and Spock steals the film.
2. Tyson. For anyone that grew up in the 80s, especially with a Nintendo, Mike Tyson figured heavily. One followed his exploits like one would follow those of a super-hero – it was all highly mythological, even while it was happening. The interviews he gives in James Toback’s new documentary could not be more riveting. The first part of the story is a profound testament to the love of a father-figure – for an absolutely stunning real-life illustration of the power of grace, look no further than Mike’s relationship with his first trainer, Cus D’Amato. The second half of the film is an honest look at everything that happened after Cus died, where Mike was unable to “get it together” ever again (understatement-of-the year). The present-day Tyson comes across as a broken and repentant man, with a great deal of insight into his own failings. Very touching stuff.
3. The Brothers Bloom. I have been waiting for this one for a long, long time. Originally slated to come out over a year ago, it is Rian Johnson’s follow-up to the brilliant Brick. The Brothers Bloom is an endlessly entertaining con-man caper with one heck of an inspired script. It is that rare film that you immediately want to see again: inventive, funny, sweet and beautiful, with a lot of brains and an incredible soundtrack. But make no mistake, although it is impeccably detailed, this is no mere Wes Anderson knock-off. My only qualm may be with the final 10 minutes – I can’t decide if they stand up to the rest of the movie – but the first 7 sure do [see below]. I may have a new favorite director: