Movie reviews: “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and more


Since the Three Stooges, mischief has never been so much fun. Over five films, the frantic Tic Tac-shaped Minions, the silly sidekicks of former supervillain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), have brought the most kid-friendly anarchy to the screen since Curly said: “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk”, for the first time.

Their new movie, “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” now in theaters, sets a new standard for silliness.

Set in San Francisco in 1976, the story begins with clumsy 12-year-old Gru and his dream.

“There are a lot of bad guys in the world,” he says. “But I’m going to be a supervillain.”

To fulfill his evil wish, he interviews to become a member of the best outlaw team in the world, the Vicious 6. But he is not taken seriously. At all.

“I’m pretty despicable,” Gru said proudly. “You don’t want to cross me.”

“Evil is for the adults who steal mighty ancient stones and wreak havoc,” says Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), the new leader of the Vicious 6, who took over from the recently deposed former Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin ). . “Not for the curvy little punks who should be in school learning, taking a break and sucking their thumb! Come back when you’ve done something wrong to impress me!”

To prove he has what it takes to be a supervillain, Gru steals something near and dear to the hearts the size of a peach pit from the Vicious 6, their precious zodiac stone. Instead of impressing Belle Bottom, the robbery turns her against Gru and his loyal Minions. With the mad, evil, and dangerous Vicious 6 hot on his trail, Gru is kidnapped by Wild Knuckles. “My favorite villain is also my kidnapper,” Gru marvels. “It will be a great opportunity if you don’t kill me.”

Cue the Minion chaos.

“The Minions: The Rise of Gru” gives fans of the franchise exactly what they want – no deep thoughts, just sublime silliness.

If you want to get all the movie reviews on this, I guess you could say the leitmotif is one of softly inspired mayhem that follows the Minions wherever they go. But it’s not a film with layers of subtext or loads of diegetic elements. There is a denouement, a resolution to the story, but why think about it too much? It’s short, quick and silly with an easy to digest message, as Armistead Maupin always says, find your family logical and not biological. Or, as Gru says, “Find your tribe and never let them go.”

More pungent than arty, it’s made for kids, who I’m sure will swallow it while parents patiently sit through the 85-minute runtime.


Marcel the shod shell

“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is part poignant, part absurd, and all wonderful.

In the new film, now playing in theaters, the resourceful, one-eyed seashell with a pair of pink shoes, voiced by Jenny Slate, seeks to find community after a family upheaval. Marcel may be a one-inch mollusk, but his experience of loss, grief, and joy feels more human and authentic than most movies starring, you know, real humans.

In this seashell look, we learn that Marcel lives in an Airbnb, once the home of an unhappily married couple, today a tourist stopover. When they separated, Marcel’s extended family disappeared, perhaps accidentally caught up in the couple’s rush to leave home and their relationship.

Marcel and his grandmother Connie (Isabella Rossellini) stay behind, finding ingenious and often hilarious ways to survive and thrive in the nearly empty house.

When recently estranged filmmaker Dean (Dean Fleischer-Camp, who directs and co-created Marcel with Slate) and his curious dog move in, Marcel finds a friend and collaborator. Dean is taken by Marcel’s mixture of curiosity (Have you ever eaten a raspberry?) and insight, and begins documenting life in the Airbnb in a video he intends to post on YouTube. “It’s like a movie,” Marcel explains to Connie. “But nobody has lines and nobody even knows what it is while they’re doing it.”

As the video goes viral, Marcel wonders if this newfound fame can help him reunite with his family.

“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is shot in a documentary style, with beautiful stop-motion animation to bring Marcel and Connie to life. The star of the show is Slate’s heartfelt vocal performance, both childish and wise. Marcel is a singular character. Adorable, it’s like he’s just stepped out of a Pixar movie, bringing with him a personality to spare, but also a level of self-awareness and empathy rarely played out at such a high level in family films. This may be big screen entertainment about a mollusk, but it feels personal and intimate.

Rossellini brings warmth to Connie, in a performance that feels like a grandma’s hug. Comforting and wise, and just a little forgetful, she is Marcel’s anchor and mentor. “Marcello, let’s forget to be afraid,” she said. “Go on an adventure.”

“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” takes a silly premise, a premise that could sit on the shelf next to other talking creatures’ kids movies, and elevates it with a sense of humanity and power. transformation of friendship.

This one inch tall figure punches well above his waist.


The Forgiven

A satire of privilege enjoyed by the upper classes, “The Forgiven,” starring Ralph Fiennes, Jessica Chastain and now playing in theaters, is a morality play almost completely without morality.

Based on Lawrence Osborne’s 2012 novel of the same name, “The Forgiven” centers on a married couple on their way to a week-long party in the desert of Morocco. He is the drunken and intolerant Brit David (Ralph Fiennes), she is Jo (Jessica Chastain), a bored American with a sharp tongue.

After an afternoon of drinking, they head into the Saharan darkness for the “long drive”. Along the way, “in the middle of a bloody nowhere,” David, feeling the effects of afternoon wine, strikes and kills Driss (Omar Ghazaoui), a young fossil salesman who came out in front of the car. They load the body into the backseat and head to the party for dinner and other drinks. “The kid is nobody,” David sneers.

The entertainers (Matt Smith and Caleb Landry Jones), who boast of throwing the best parties in all of West Africa, call the police, who quickly close the case, considering it an accident. The next morning, Driss’ father arrives, demanding that David accompany him to the boy’s funeral. “It is completely normal for the man responsible for his death to do this,” the father said. “It’s the custom.”

David reluctantly agrees. “It doesn’t matter one way or another,” he says. “Everyone thinks I’m guilty.” David’s humble journey contrasts sharply with Jo, who enjoys the more hedonistic aspects of party life.

“The Forgiven” is a story about the collision of East and West. Director John Michael McDonagh places his wealthy, debauched characters in a place where, because of their money and power, the rules simply don’t apply to them.

It’s an intriguing premise, played out in the film’s dueling storylines; David and Jo, separated by distance and purpose for most of the film’s run. They’re on different paths, but both are headed for some sort of reward – the wages of their sins – but as the shroud of decadence covers Jo’s journey and an existential terror obscures David, “The Forgiven” stops short of providing some kind of enlightenment for its characters.

The overtones of exploitation of the poor and violence that are embedded in the story remain, but are unchallenged. Despite a memorable climax, the ultimate understanding and judgment of the characters and situation is left to the viewer to unravel.

With such rich material at hand, the fuzziness of “The Forgiven” is frustrating, but compelling because of Fiennes, Chastain, Smith, Said Taghmaoui, who brings real warmth to the character of driver Anouar, and Mourad Zaoui as manager. and insightful translator. , Hamed.


Mr. Malcolm's List

The petticoats might be more pronounced and the dialogue straight out of Jane Austen, but make no mistake, “Mr. Malcolm’s List,” a new romance now playing in theaters, is the kind of rom-com that kept Drew Barrymore and Kathryn Heigl busy for years.The only thing missing is the traditional rom-com that runs through the airport and into the arms of the beloved, a period-induced omission, not for lack of trying.

Based on a bestselling novel of the same name written by Suzanne Allain, the film begins with a bad date between London’s most eligible bachelor, Mr Jeremiah Malcolm (Sope Dirisu) and the greedy but stupid (“Thinking too much deeply causes furrows of the forehead, ”she says) Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton).She bases her hopes on a marriage proposal, but he seems more inclined to talk politics, a subject she knows little about.

Despite her best efforts, the night ends with parting ways. The next day, much to Julia’s horror, the newspaper publishes a cartoon of Mr. Malcolm waving at her with a curt, “Next!”

It turns out that Mr. Malcolm has a list of requirements for his potential new wife. Applicants must be able to converse sensibly, exude elegance of mind, have an indulgent nature, and distinguished connections to good society, among other prerequisites. Julia’s sin? Unaware of the newly enacted corn laws and batting his eyelashes too much.

Julia is horrified by the publicity. “I would like Mr. Malcolm to get the reward he deserves,” she said. To that end, she hires Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), a country mouse from out of town, to give her a crash course in high society to seduce Malcolm. When he falls under her spell, Julia will produce her own list and he will be “tried and found guilty before all good society”, just as she was.

You know the rest and if you don’t, you’ve never seen a romantic comedy before. This is a Kathryn Heigl style flick with incandescent overtones and the promise of a ripped bodice or two. Mix in jealousy, cunning, a handsome alternate love interest in the form of Captain Henry Ossory (Theo James) and the comic relief of the giggling Mrs. Covington, wonderfully played by Broadway star Ashley Park, and you have an entertaining movie, but rather predictable.

“Mr. Malcolm’s List” succeeds primarily because of an engaging and diverse cast that breathes life and plenty of personality into a well-worn genre.

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