Elysium (2013)

elysium_1Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Brandon Auret, Josh Blacker, Emma Tremblay, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Faran Tahir

Directed by Neill Blomkamp

Expectations: Very high.

threestar


I don’t know about you, but I LOVE District 9. Elysium is definitely no District 9, but it’s kind of unfair to even compare them, as Elysium is a much more ambitious film. Due to this, it’s also a more disappointing film because it doesn’t always hit the marks it strives for. At the same time, it features so many great ideas and awesome moments that it would be hard to walk away from Elysium without a smile. If nothing else, it’s got fantastic design work throughout, and the future Earth dystopia/utopia presented in the film is a pretty spot-on extrapolation from the current state of economic inequality in the US.

Elysium is a very simple story at its heart, but it’s also a multilayered story that deals with multiple characters and tells their stories simultaneously until they all converge. The basic kernel is that after Earth became too overpopulated and polluted, the rich people built a space station called Elysium where they could enjoy their money in the peace of space, along with virtually neverending life thanks to their revolutionary med-bays that can identify and cure any ailment. Back on the surface of Earth, Max (Matt Damon) is an orphan who has always dreamed of going to Elysium, and because this is a movie, we enter his life as he’s thrust into a situation that might make that dream a reality.

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Casa de mi Padre (2012)

casa-de-mi-padre-poster-will-ferrell-690x1024Starring Will Ferrell, Diego Luna, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Efren Ramirez, Adrian Martinez, Gael García Bernal, Manuel Urrego, Nick Offerman, Jerry Collins

Directed by Matt Piedmont

Expectations: Pretty high, but Will Ferrell movies are usually a thumbs down for me.

threehalfstar


Like many of the films I review here, Casa de mi Padre is not a movie for everyone. You could arguably say that about most movies, but this movie, like any true genre film, is strictly for a select group of people. If you’re someone that’s seen a shitload of Will Ferrell comedies and loved them, then this probably isn’t your movie. But if you’ve seen some low-budget Mexican films or telanovelas and enjoyed them and you like Will Ferrell in general, then this is your movie. The comedy here is mostly subtle nods to the genre’s tropes and shortcomings, and will go over the heads of those expecting Ferrell’s usual bombastic comedy.

The story tells a tangled web of deceit and intrigue surrounding the Álvarez family. Raul (Diego Luna), brother of ranchero Armando Álvarez (Will Ferrell), returns home from the big city to introduce his fiancée to his family. From here… hmm… I’ve tried to summarize the plot succinctly for a few minutes now and have come up with nothing that could tell the story quick and dirty without spoiling many of the melodramatic reveals. So basically, Armando must defend the honor of his family from the evil drug dealer Onza. It takes a while to get around to that, but that’s basically the drive of the story.

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