Friday, August 30, 2013

What to Watch This Weekend: August 30, 2013

We recommended Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby while it was in theaters and the well-acted The Reluctant Fundamentalist is spoiled by an odd romance, so we suggest another DVD.

In Theaters: Short Term 12
Short Term 12 is one of our favorite 2013 movies (and it very well might be David's favorite). There's much joy and pain in getting to know a group home's troubled kids and their equally troubled lead staffer. Watching them naturally interact with one another and confront their issues is a treat. Seriously, it's one of the best movies of the year and an indie gem that is equal parts heart wrenching and heartwarming. 

On DVD: Pain & Gain
This is one of Michael Bay's more ambitious efforts. He took a brief break from action blockbusters to make this true crime dark comedy that pokes fun at the bumbling criminal escapades of three dimwitted bodybuilders. The humor is sometimes inspired but often juvenile, an inappropriate fit for such a grim true story. The leads (Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, and especially Dwayne Johnson) play their roles well.

Streaming (Netflix): Dredd
The makers of Dredd put their modest $45 million budget to good use, making a cult classic action film with surprisingly effective special effects and style. It also didn't offend comic fans like the neutered 1995 adaptation. The simple plot follows Dredd and a new recruit fighting to escape a criminal-packed high-rise after getting sealed in by a powerful drug lord. Its premise is eerily similar to that of The Raid: Redemption (differentiated by its language and a reliance on guns and explosives rather than martial arts), but Dredd began filming months earlier so that may just be a coincidence.

Streaming (HBO GO): Life of Pi
2012's biggest Oscar winner received much of its acclaim for its technical artistry, which some may feel is best experienced on the big screen. It's an unusual story focused on a teenage shipwreck survivor struggling to keep himself and a few unexpected animal castaways alive. He may have a hard time convincing the Bengal tiger to cooperate with the other survivors. It's based on a novel that some believed was "unfilmable", likely referring to a few clunky moments during the third act. The highlights are the characters' lost at sea struggle and the visuals.

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