SYNOPSIS: If you’re like the Reel Guys you don’t see the long weekend as the last chance to head up to the cottage for a final blast of summer, but more of a three day sprint to catch up on all the movies you missed over the last three months while you were too busy jumping off docks, BBQing or basking in the wondrousness of warm weather. With this list the Reel Guys say sayōnara to the silly season and serve up one last refreshing sip of the summer’s best air-conditioner movies we took in while the rest of you were slathering on SPF 110.
Richard: Mark, the summer’s biggest hit, Guardians of the Galaxy, is a lot of fun and deserves all the attention it’s getting, but for me the two best sci fi films of the season were Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Snowpiercer. Apes is a smart movie about race, gun usage and xenophobia that doesn’t shy away from big ideas while Snowpiercer is an environmental thriller about a revolution on a train that is unapologetically weird. For me it’s the nerviest actioner to come along in a season crowded with movies that go crash, boom, bang. What grabbed you this summer?
Mark: Richard, I usually cringe at the beginning of the summer expecting nothing but comic book adaptations and sequels. But this summer those kinds of films turned out to be among the best. The three you mentioned were excellent, but I’d also like to add X-Men: Days of Future Past and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, both of which were smart, exciting, and had time travel motifs. Heck, even the latest installment of Transformers was a major step forward: I didn’t run screaming for the exit. But here are two smaller films that I thoroughly enjoyed: Begin Again, about a burnt out music producer trying to reinvent himself in hipster New York, and Chef, the story of a burnt out gourmet cook who is fired and is forced to start over with his own broken down food truck. Hey, notice a theme here?
RC: Then there was the story of the burned out comic. Obvious Child came to theatres with a reputation. In its film festival run it got labeled “the abortion rom com.” While that shorthand description is technically accurate, it’s also reductive, ignoring the film’s well-crafted and hilarious coming-of-age story about accepting responsibility, to concentrate on the more sensational aspect of the story. I know you weren’t a fan, but I liked it and thought Jenny Slate was terrific in the lead role.
MB: Didn’t work for me, but I did like the James Brown biopic Get On Up. The movie lurches around trying to find its groove but Chadwick Bozeman deserves an Oscar nomination for his total immersion in the role. 22 Jump Street was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t care for 21, but this one had a sharper, funnier script and more evolved performances from Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. And I mostly liked Zach Braff’s unofficial sequel to Garden State, Wish I Was Here. The kickstarter funded indie had too much going on to succeed but there were some great sequences that a lot of critics seemed to miss.
RC: I started off talking about Guardians, which, deservedly so, has become the biggest hit of the summer. But another movie gave it a run for its money in the entertainment department, but not in the money department. Edge of Tomorrow may sound like the title of a soap opera, but it’s actually the name of a Tom Cruise alien invasion flick. In it Cruise battles nasty space bugs called Mimics but the story is more Groundhog Day than it is War of the Worlds. The first two reels are packed with energy and invention it’s only when the conventions that made the story enticing are put aside in the last reel that the movie becomes a standard Cruise action flick. But it’s still a good Cruise action flick and deserved a bigger audience.
MB: I know I’m going to like Boyhood. Haven’t seen it yet because I’ ve been too busy raising an actual boy.