The “Cornetto” trilogy has always been about humour, heart, and homage. And even though it’s been six long years since we last visited a quirky, enthralling, and action-packed world created by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright…”The World’s End” was well worth the wait. That being said, the fact that Pegg, Wright, and company were able to pull it off is no surprise at all. It’s simply a rarity for a trilogy to be so evenly brilliant, so skepticism is understandable. Nevertheless, “The World’s End” is a fitting conclusion to such a fantastical series. Undoubtedly, it’s sad to see one of the most critically and all-around successful trilogies come to a close…but much like our way of life, nothing lasts forever. ”The World’s End” is a superlative finale to a near-perfect trilogy and while not as strong as “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” it isn’t far off…
Gary King (Pegg) is somewhat of a low-life and a borderline alcoholic. One day, having been reminded of his youth and happier times. Gary sets out to track down his old friends in order to convince them to complete a pub crawl they all failed to accomplish when they were younger. Upon successfully persuading Peter (Marsen), O-Man (Freeman), Steven (Considine), and Andy (Frost) to accompany him on this idiotic journey, the crew head back to their hometown of Newton Haven. After the group finishes up the first few pints, they begin to realize that something is amiss. However, deciding to carry on, Gary and his pals soon come to terms that this night will not go as originally planned.
For all of it’s playful hilarity and jaw-dropping action, I don’t think the public expected “The World’s End” to be so decidedly earnest, disheartening, and tragic. Without question, it’s the most serious and honest chapter of the trilogy. After removing layer upon layer of relatable fears and experiences, such as dissipating youth and failed relationships, not to mention the triviality and flaws of the human race. It’s quite upsetting to realize how deep and truthful this satirical, bittersweet rabbit hole is. No matter how disingenuous and unfazed this group of pub-crawlers appears to be facing down their impending doom, they reek of mortality, mistakes, vulnerability, and imperfection. That being said, the final confrontation, themes, and the film as a whole is funny and unforgettable. Yet resonates a harsh, inevitable wake-up call.
Perhaps the most important thing about “The World’s End” is that it didn’t let the previous entries down. Granted, it is somewhat a blend of the first two entries, brandishing similar plot points and themes. In addition, the premises and specific style of the “Cornetto” trilogy is becoming a bit stale and a tad bit predictable. That being said, “The World’s End’s” candidness, fresh comedy, and fast-paced violence is enough to differentiate it from the others. Each entry carries its own merit and traits that make them like no other. It feels like the right time for Wright and company to move on and bring to fruition their bright, limitless futures. With the “Cornetto” trilogy, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, and Edgar Wright have created something that is truly invaluable, priceless… They should take unmeasurable pride in what they have accomplished.
Without question, Edgar Wright is the most responsible for the triumph of not only “The World’s End,” but the “Cornetto” trilogy as a whole. His refusal to make pictures inside the norm is easily the most promising aspect of his career thus far and is what makes this trilogy so utterly brilliant. Wright continues to employ a Guy Ritchie-esque style melded with his unwavering, youthful wonder and cinephile heart. Essentially, this is what makes Wright’s films so intoxicating and enjoyable. But more importantly, what sets him apart as a filmmaker is the passion and humbleness in which he derives vision and creativity. He conjures up films that he, as a cinephile would cherish, which is the reason he is so respected and relevant to movie lovers every where. Sure, things might get a little hectic here and there, especially when your filming a battle to save all mankind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
One thing that no one will ever accuse the “Cornetto” trilogy of having is shallow ensembles. And with “The World’s End,” we are treated to much of the same. Starring the exuberant, trustworthy duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, a wonderful supporting cast that features Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsen, in addition to a plethora of brief cameos. “The World’s End” arguably contains the strongest cast in the trilogy. Freeman is sort of the unsung star of the group, having landed the role of Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” trilogy. He continues to provide evidence as to why he earned the job in the first place and apart from his reprising role on “Sherlock,” Freeman has never been better. Marsen and Considine, both severely underused in the business today, have an undeniable comedic charisma that is on full display in “The World’s End” and will hopefully garner them the attention they deserve.
As predicted, it’s Pegg and Frost who take the reigns of this fantastic adventure, with one significant change. Nick Frost is the responsible, sensible wet blanket, well, for as long as he can muster it anyhow and Simon Pegg is the idiotic, chaotic friend, who isn’t really much of a pal at all. Now, aside from the closing of the trilogy, the biggest tragedy here is the disconcerting underuse and lack of acknowledgement from filmmakers everywhere towards Frost. Who, continues to be an under-appreciated talent and arguably gives the performance of his career in “The World’s End.” As for Pegg, who’s chagrin, heedless, and selfish performance is unfathomably effective. Pegg, who has gone on to star in several big-budget blockbusters, makes a fortuitous return to his humble beginnings and certainly adds another invaluable notch to his already stellar repertoire.
Just a brief shout-out to Alice Lowe, Reece Shearsmith, Michael Smiley, Bill Nighly, and Steve Oram for their brief, but memorable roles in “The World’s End.” It’s nice to see Wright give a little extra screen time to the great, up-and-coming filmmakers for, his homeland.
Funny, heartfelt, and all-around awesome. “The World’s End” is the closing chapter die-hard “Cornetto” fans and cinephiles were hoping for and so much more.
The World’s End: 9 out of 10.
Relentlessly bold, appeasingly fresh, and genuinely, yet subtly funny. Steven Soderbergh’s portrayal of the last 10 years in the illustrious Liberace’s life and his secret affairs is unyielding, decidedly heartfelt, and intolerably melancholic. Cemented with a truly captivating story and a pair of strong, unflinching performances from its two accomplished leads. “Behind the Candelabra” is undoubtedly the complete package and is sure to win the hearts of cinephiles and critics alike. Regrettably, the film is not an obvious smash-hit and is more of an acquired taste. Ultimately resulting in some inevitable polarization due to a lack of universal persuasion and a character that predictably alienates those not familiar with the king of showmanship and glitter. All possible criticisms aside, “Behind the Candelabra” is a magnificent triumph and is easily one of the best films of 2013 so far.
In 1977, Scott Thorson (Damon) works as an animal trainer for films. When Scott meets Bob at a bar, he is urged to leave his adopted home with the promise of better paying work. Bob soon introduces Scott to Liberace (Douglas) who takes an immediate liking to him. Liberace invites the two back to his mansion where Scott notices that one of Liberace’s dogs is suffering from temporary blindness. Scott, a previous veterinary assistant claims he can help with the dogs illness. After treating Liberace’s dog, Scott becomes his permanent assistant and moves into his home and soon becomes his lover.
Even though, rather, despite some may find the delicate subject matter “Behind the Candelabra” deals with to be too uncomfortable and foreign. Soderbergh and company reject any notion of a standard and present this fabulous, yet heartbreaking story in the necessary over-the-top, in-your-face style. They handle this Liberace biopic with an honesty that is so purposefully campy and intimate, if you didn’t feel out of place, you wouldn’t be human. Essentially, the viewer is invited to take part in the dissection of a man’s soul, his emotions and motivations. Granted, some have a difficult time understanding and witnessing homosexuality. Nevertheless, by the time “Behind the Candelabra” rolls around to its depressing conclusion. One can’t help but feel unaware of the fact that they’ve been watching a gay relationship. The film is so vivid, brash, and enjoyable, you lose track of our societies misconceptions of norm, but I digress.
“Behind the Candelabra” isn’t an advocate for equality and I mean this with the best intentions. This film is about the legend that is Liberace and his life, not a campaign for equal rights regardless of sexual orientation. This is simply because Soderbergh and company, and the film itself act oblivious to any degradation and lesser merit our society places on being a homosexual, as if we are already past this idiotic premise and ideal that some are not equal due to their personal attractions. This is just a film, a picture just as much about the people surrounding Liberace as it is about the man himself, not a gay rights movement. So set aside any differences in personal beliefs and unsettled feelings and just enjoy the masterful performances, spectacular direction, and riveting story that comprise “Behind the Candelabra.”
Without question, Soderbergh and company capture the spectacle, glamour, and talent that surrounded Liberace, almost like an aura. While the portrayal of Liberace is dead-on, the value and truth behind the films content is still somewhat up in the air. Although Liberace never stated that he was indeed gay, ”Behind the Candelabra” does infant depict Liberace and his employee Scott Thorson in a sexually active relationship. Thorson wrote the book this film is based upon, so it is merely an account of events from his perspective, not an infallible retelling from Liberace’s mouth. Which leaves a lot for the audience to decide for themselves. Nonetheless, aside from the truth of its main theme, “Behind the Candelabra” leaves nothing veiled. The film is as honest, affectionate, and bold as they come. Soderbergh’s direction and originality is as firm and sharp as ever. His ability to exude this lighthearted hilarity in a beautiful contrast to the films dark content is outstanding. All in all, “Behind the Candelabra” is an intentionally campy romp that never falters.
However, while “Behind the Candelabra” strengths appear indicative that it can indeed remain afloat without the necessary cast to compliment its positives, I can assure you that without Michael Douglas, who portrays Liberace, and Matt Damon, who tackles the role of Scott Thorson, “Behind the Candelabra” would predictably sink. The film also stars Dan Aykroyd and Rob Lowe, who individually add a layer of humour that is body-achingly funny. Matt Damon does an outstanding job alongside Douglas and the two have undeniable chemistry that rivals some of the best twosomes in cinematic history. Michael Douglas easily gives the best performance in the film and one of the best of 2013 so far, arguably Oscar worthy. Everything about Liberace, Douglas captures, moulds, and presents in a truly phenomenal performance. Just incredible performances all around from the entire cast, especially Damon and Douglas.
Immaculately performed, keenly directed, and utterly entrancing. While “Behind the Candelabra” may not always be easy to watch, it is definitely worth the effort.
Behind the Candelabra: 8 out of 10.
A whacky and sincere story about psychopathic lovers taking to the road. Sightseers is a devilishly atmospheric and intensely sociopathic black comedy. Directed by Ben Wheatley who appeased the Toronto International Film Festival faithful with Sightseers this past year and with his previous film Kill List in 2011. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into when I purchased my ticket for Sightseers at TIFF, but I had heard good things regarding Kill List so I approached Sightseers with cautious optimism, and I was rewarded. Sightseers is as cruel as it is unique when it comes to its two loveable murderers and provides huge laughs that strain your entire body. Starring and written by Alice Lowe and Steve Oram. Sightseers morbid sense of humour and lackadaisical attitude towards its victims is vitally refreshing and breathtakingly hilarious.
Chris (Oram) is dying to take Tina (Lowe) on a vacation travelling around in his caravan. When the plans are finally set, the two take to the road. As they visit several odd destinations, Tina begins to see a darker side of Chris. He gets very distracted and angry at the slightest annoyance and tends to overreact. As they continue on their journey, Tina learns of Chris’s terrible secret. Committing despicable acts as they continue on their journey, Chris and Tina begin to frustrate one another.
Sightseers is one of a kind. I can’t really compare it to another film and do It justice. Its approach is unconventional and its comedy is not for everyone. It shares the most similarities with recent Quentin Tarantino films. There is shared DNA in the way Tarantino and Wheatley and crew distinguish their violence with comedy. They both fixate on the marrow of their stories even though Sightseers isn’t as elaborate or complex.
Wheatley seems to have perfected his craft with Sightseers. His brilliant camerawork showcasing the outstanding vastness of the terrain and dizzying heights of the sky are immaculate. But he hasn’t forgotten what has gotten him here in the first place. The gruesome detail in the savagery and care meshed into the barbarity is incredible. However effective Wheatley is able to conduct his settings and cast is incomparable to Oram and Lowe’s script which drives the film. I have the utmost level of appreciation and respect regarding the script. The emergence of Lowe’s character’s subtle, passive realization of Oram’s bloodthirsty rage and her quick acceptance and accompaniment is laughable and sweet.
As for performances, Oram and Lowe are at the centre of the film for the majority. Lowe fits her role brilliantly. She performs her characters shy, passive aggressiveness faultlessly and that compliments the reluctancy exploding from her in regards to the foulness throughout Sightseers. As for Steve Oram, I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard with such a thorough performance. Just so there is no confusion, I mean that in the best way possible. Every movement, every disgusted grunt, Oram delivers the psychotic goods.
Just missing out on our top 10 list for the films released in 2012. Sightseers is a must see for those looking for some terrific visuals and a laugh while they’re being grossed out.
Sightseers: 8 out of 10.
Don’t forget guys to check out this weeks past top 10 and contribute to blogger talk which was posted yesterday, cheers!