Happy New Year
I’m planning a heist and I’m looking for some volunteers. I’ll ask you a few questions to see if you’re qualified.
We’re in a pinch and we’re being chased, do we:
A) Give up?
B) Keep running?
C) Dance like we’ve never danced before?
Let’s say we’re cornered. We’re up against a wall. Please rate how much your fighting skills defy the laws of physics on a scale of 1 to 10. Bonus if steam comes out of your ears when you get angry.
OK, last question. You have been spurned by a great love. Is the only cure for your lamentations heaps of ice cream, or to burst into song?
(Trick question, that last one. Both answers were right.)
Happy New Year looks like unbridled amounts of fun in the way only Bollywood can make it, from humor that crosses the language barrier to lavish set design and a grab-bag of genres ranging from drama to kung fu comedy. I wouldn’t mind if a few more dour U.S. films managed to tap into the zaniness that Bollywood lives and breathes.
I’m a fan of modern Dickensian stories about children who make a difference. I’m also a fan of Rooney Mara as one of the most important actresses working today. Even in a low-profile year like 2013, she still delivered three of the year’s best performances in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Side Effects, and Her. And Martin Sheen needs no introduction.
I don’t mean to take away from the three children at the center of this story either. The movie’s going to succeed or fail on their efforts, no matter what Mara or Sheen do. Director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Reader) has one of the best track records in the business when it comes to working with young actors.
We’ll finish out with what looks like a powerful documentary. There’s nothing to say about the state of this country when it comes to the working classes that hasn’t already been said a million times. We’re caught in an age of corporate neo-feudalism.
You’ve probably heard statistics quoted right, left, and center at you if you’ve paid any attention whatsoever to economic politics, so let me just bring one single fact into play. We may see news of an improved economy, but 130% of economic gains since the 2008-09 recession belong to the top 2% of earners. That’s 130%, so it’s not just the gains made since 2009 (that would equal only 100%), but it’s also the gains made by the elite into what little the working classes already had in the deepest throes of the recession.
No statistic more clearly highlights to me that the Great Recession – while cured on paper – continues for the vast majority of Americans.
WORST TRAILER OF THE WEEK: None
There is no worst trailer of the week this week. Nicolas Cage can only work so much, people. Honestly, nothing looks that bad aside from some straight-to-DVD and super-indie work, and we have a rule here: We’ll criticize a filmmaker for making bad work, but we won’t criticize him or her for having very few resources to start with.
And yes, I realize the Rosewater trailer came out this week and that it’s not in our best trailers section. While I applaud the story being told and I’m a huge Jon Stewart fan, I have some deep reservations about the quality of the craft behind the film itself.
If there’s a Daily Show alum whose trailers you should be paying more attention to, it’s Steve Carell and his dramatic turn in Foxcatcher.