‘Boy & the World’ is charming bit of Brazilian animation (Our grade: B)

A boy tries to reunite his family in the Brazilian animated movie "Boy and the World." (GKids)
A boy tries to reunite his family in the Brazilian animated movie “Boy and the World.” (GKids)

Charles Solomon – Los Angeles Times

One of the first animated features made in Brazil, “Boy & the World” is a brightly colored, often charming film that juxtaposes simple, hand-drawn animation with kaleidoscopic computer-generated patterns.

When his father leaves to find work in the city, a boy named Cuca follows him, hoping to reunite his family. Far from his rural home, the boy witnesses scenes of industrial agriculture, colorful festivals, ecological destruction and oppressive urban life.

» Read full review at MyStatesman.com » Find showtimes for “Boy & the World”

The “Suicide Squad” Trailer is Pretty Much Everything Horrible About Contemporary Superhero Movies (Especially the DC Comics Ones)

Oh, man. Okay.

First, some mild housekeeping for those confused: DC has finally gotten its act together and started their own shared universe series a la the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This sequence of movies starts with the depressing “Man of Steel,”  and  continues with the even more depressing looking “Batman v Superman.”  From now on, all of the movies take place in the same universe. (The DC TV shows such as “Flash,” “Arrow” and really enjoyable “Supergirl,” and the DC movies are taking place in a different universe.)

The third installment in the DC Extended Universe is “Suicide Squad” directed by David Ayer (writer of “Training Day,” writer/director of “Fury”).

qfwso2uduowy8o1crpdxThough there may be a little bit of rave-o-licious green and some cool icons in the posters, “Suicide Squad” still has the muted palette and very serious demeanor of “Man of Steel.” As for a sense of wonder, forget about it.

Nope, from Boomerang (Jai Courtney) in solitary to the invisible voices that may or may not be yacking to Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) to El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a fire user being hit with a whole bunch of water, and the Joker (Jared Leto) looking like he owns a whole lot of Korn and Disturbed albums, this “Suicide Squad” looks like, well, the Dirty Dozen with a few superpowers and more Hot Topic.

There are a few bright (as it were) spots. Amanda Waller was one of the coolest characters ever created, not the least of which was because she looked like this and was perfectly capable of going toe to toe with Batman and not blinking. (These days she looks like this, which is DC editorial’s cross to bear.)  She is being played by Viola Davis, about which I am in no way mad. (Though I was holding out for C.C.H. Pounder.)

And casting Will Smith as Deadshot. one of the all-time great Batman villains, is a cool idea. Smith is a charismatic fellow, and man, could this movie use some.

In theory, grim ‘n’ gritty is appropriate for something called “Suicide Squad.” The 66-issue original run of the book, written by the great John Ostrander, was one of the best superhero comics of the 1980s — smart, action-packed, well-characterized. It was a brilliant way to revive third-string characters (such as Deadshot and Boomerang).

But this just looks…trashy and depressing. And not trashy in the fun John Water/Russ Meyers way. Trashy in a nu-metal video, torture porn kind of way. All the colors are dark and drab, nobody looks happy to be there, not even Robbie and Leto can sell their lunacy all that well.

Look, I could be dead wrong. I would love to be dead wrong. “Suicide Squad,” the movie, could be brilliant. It could be the witty, vibrant comic book movie of our dreams.  The fact that this has brought vintage Suicide Squad comics back into print is a fantastic thing. Those comics are a blast — colorful and fun and weird.

This movie looks like none of those things.

“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” Soundtrack Double-LP Out Now

cover_template_textAustin-based Mondo has released a double-LP version of James Horner’s brilliant score to “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” This expanded edition soundtrack features audio never before released on vinyl. The 180-gram set on “Mutara Nebula-colored” vinyl features original sleeve artwork by Matt Taylor and exclusive liner notes by Devin Faraci, and it has been remastered for vinyl by engineer/noise genius James Plotkin.

Horner was all of 28 years old when he began working on the score, his first major work. It’s a genuinely brilliant piece of music, deployed cannily by director Nicholas Meyer. The passages that overlay the slow-moving battle between Enterprise and Reliant are especially impressive — sequences that could have been too meditative by half are instead thrilling and tense

‘Cactus Jack’ Garner doc to air on KLRU Thursday



The Briscoe Center’s new documentary “Cactus Jack: Lone Star on Capitol Hill” will have its debut on KLRU TV at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, with other airings possible in the following weeks.

It’s the sage of John Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner, the Texan who rose from humble beginnings to become Speaker of the House as well as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vice presidential running mate in 1932.

The Texan from Blossom Prairie was on Capitol Hill for 38 years.

The new documentary was made possible by funding from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Austin center’s Briscoe Endowment.

Garner was “one of the most powerful but overlooked men to ever emerge from Texas,” says Bill Minutaglio, who teaches at the UT School of Journalism and wrote the film. Nancy Schiesari of UT’s RTF Department directed the film, which was produced by Hans-Martin Liebing and edited by Rebecca Adams and Anne Lewis.

“The documentary greatly complements the education mission of UT Austin’s Briscoe Center,” says Don Carleton, the center’s director. “We have had screenings at the Briscoe-Garner Museum and on campus, and we will eventually make it available to schools and colleges. Now it is being broadcast across the country on PBS stations.”



“Jonathan Demme Presents Made in Texas” out on DVD/Blu-Ray

9781477308479A DVD/Blu-Ray of the legendary short film anthology “Jonathan Demme Presents: Made in Texas” is out now.

As the story goes Demme viewed a number of short films while visiting Austin in 1981. In October, he screened six of them at the Collective for Living Cinema in New York City.

The six films are newly restored and presented together for the first time since 1981. The collection is available for purchase through UT Press.

Special Features on this new exclusive dual-format collection include the introduction by Louis Black, Richard Linklater and Jonathan Demme from the collection’s 2015 SXSW screening, the post-screening Q&A with  Black, Demme, Mark Rance and the “Made in Texas filmmakers and a booklet featuring a foreword and program notes by Louis Black, a 1982 essay by Demme and archival images.

The anthology includes: “Invasion of the Aluminum People (super 8mm, 30 minutes) by David Boone, “Leonardo, jr (16 mm, 7 minutes) by Lorrie Oshatz, “Death of a Rock Star (12 minutes, 16mm) by Tom Huckabee and Will Van Overbeek, “Fair Sisters” (16 mm, 7 minutes) by Missy Boswell, Edward Lowry and Louis Black, “Mask of Sarnath” (16 mm, 20 minutes) by Neil Ruttenberg and “Speed of Light” (16 mm, 30 minutes) by Brian Hansen.

It’s an essential document of Austin film.

‘Norm of the North’ endangers Arctic one juvenile joke at a time (Our grade: C)

A still from "Norm of the North." (Lionsgate)
A still from “Norm of the North.” (Lionsgate)

“Norm of the North” wants to be an endearing tale of a polar bear who dares to be different and saves the Arctic from human intervention.

“Norm of the North” quickly devolves into a kids’ sketch comedy routine during which almost every joke involves lemmings that urinate several times their body weight on many things, lemmings that pass gas enough to create a hot tub, and lemmings that do just about every other bodily function that 5-year-old boys find hysterical — their parents, not so much.

» Read full review at MyStatesman.com » Find showtimes for “Norm of the North”

Michael Bay slips into war movie cliches with ‘13 Hours’ (Our grade: C+)

In this photo provided by Paramount Pictures shows John Krasinski as Jack Silva in the film, "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" from Paramount Pictures and 3 Arts Entertainment/Bay Films. The movie releases in U.S. theaters Jan. 15, 2016. (Christian Black/Paramount Pictures via AP)
In this photo provided by Paramount Pictures shows John Krasinski as Jack Silva in the film, “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” from Paramount Pictures and 3 Arts Entertainment/Bay Films.(Christian Black/Paramount Pictures via AP)

Michael Phillips – Chicago Tribune

Everything in director Michael Bay’s cinematic vocabulary — the glamorizing slo-mo, the falling bomb point-of-view shots, the low-angle framing of his heroes with blue sky, fireballs or an American flag in the background — suggests not real life, or the way things might have happened, but a Michael Bay movie.

It’s true of the “Transformers” movies, and it’s true of “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.”

» Read full review at MyStatesman.com » Find showtimes for “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”

‘Ride Along 2’ is a fun, little journey (Our grade: C+)

This photo provided by Universal Pictures shows, Ice Cube, left, as James Payton and Kevin Hart as Ben Barber in a scene from the film, "Ride Along 2." The movie opens in U.S. theaters on Jan. 15, 2016. (Quantrell D. Colbert/Universal Pictures via AP)
This photo provided by Universal Pictures shows, Ice Cube, left, as James Payton and Kevin Hart as Ben Barber in a scene from the film, “Ride Along 2.” The movie opens in U.S. theaters on Jan. 15, 2016. (Quantrell D. Colbert/Universal Pictures via AP)

Katie Walsh – Tribune News Service

Watching the “Ride Along” films is an exercise in succumbing to Kevin Hart’s manic charms. By the end, it’s most likely you’ll be laughing at the antics of the bite-sized comic — whose style is reminiscent of an overenthusiastic puppy nipping at your ankles — even if you’re not sure why.

This is why Ice Cube is the perfect audience proxy as Hart’s tough and taciturn counterpart; while he initially wants to bat the irritating pup away, Hart’s persistence and moxie are difficult to resist.

» Read full review at MyStatesman.com » Find showtimes for “Ride Along 2”

‘Anomalisa’ is both innovative, deeply conventional (Our grade: B)

A scene from "Anomalisa." (Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures/TNS)
A scene from “Anomalisa.” (Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures/TNS)

What is so striking about Charlie Kaufman’s “Anomalisa” is not that it feels so alien — it’s that it feels so familiar.

It is the type of story many feel we do not need more of: A white, middle-class, middle-aged man checks into a hotel for a business conference and has something resembling a midlife crisis, complete with drunkenness, infidelity and poor judgment about gifts for his son.

Not too exciting, progressive or particularly interesting. Woody Allen has made movies of this emotional depth and tone roughly 1 billion times. The self-involvement, it burns!

» Read full review at MyStatesman.com » Find showtimes for “Anomalisa”

“The Unafraid,” “Collisions” awarded MacArthur Grants

A still from "The Unafraid"
A still from “The Unafraid”

“The Unafraid,” Austin director/producer Heather Courtney and Los Angeles-based director/ producer Anayansi Prado’s documentary on “four friends (who)seek a college education, after the state of Georgia bans undocumented students from its top universities,”  was awarded a $125,000 MacArthur Foundation grant, it was announced Thursday.

A still from "Collisions"
A still from “Collisions”

In addition, Australian director Lynette Wallworth’s documentary “Collisions” — described as “a virtual reality journey to the land of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan in the remote Western Australian Pilbara desert” and produced by the Austin-based Strongheart Group —  was awarded a $100,000 grant.

Seventeen other films were also awarded grants. Check out the full list here.