While I’m not sure I think this is the best weekend of movies all year, it is an unusually dense release weekend for good strong movies that I encourage you to see.
There’s the Edgar Wright film “The World’s End,” which I liked a lot, and if you’re a fan of the earlier movies that Edgar made with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, then by all means, make sure you see this one. I’ve been talking about “You’re Next” for two full years now, and I absolutely encourage you to check it out. It’s a fun spin on a familiar structure, and the cast really does kick the whole thing up to another level.
I’ve never been particularly excited about Joe Swanberg’s films one way or another. I haven’t flipped for them, but I’m also not particularly angered by them. I think “Drinking Buddies” is a big jump for him, though, in that it manages to be thematically sound, full of strongly drawn characters, and yet still maintain the spontaneous feeling that Swanberg seems to aim for in his work. I think the entire cast of “Drinking Buddies” is at the top of their game in the film. It’s the most appealing role Olivia Wilde has ever had, and Anna Kendrick gets to play against how she’s normally cast here, with both Ron Livingston and Jake Johnson doing very strong work as well.
Of all the movies opening today, my pick for the best of the bunch is “Short Term 12,” but I say that acknowledging that I have yet to see “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” by David Lowery. I think “Short Term 12” is a knock-out. Brie Larson gives one of the year’s very best performances, and she’s surrounded by a whole ensemble that is just perfect in the movie. I think Destin Creton’s got a huge career ahead of him, and “Short Term 12” is something special.
What I was really entertained by was seeing how David Lowery making a suggestion for how he might reward any audience who goes to see his film snowballed into what is one of the coolest moments of community I’ve seen in the commercial film space in quite some while. Normally, people look at opening weekend as a battleground. Lowery turned it into something completely different.
He started by offering anyone who went to see his film a prize. But here’s the thing… it wasn’t just his film. He also included “Drinking Buddies,” “You’re Next,” and “Short Term 12,” and for anyone who can prove they saw all four films, he offered to send them a hand-made prize from his film. The other filmmakers started getting involved and… well, go look for yourself. This is awesome.
You’ve got a full month for this promotion, as long as supplies last, and if you do take part, you’re also sending a very clear message that you want to support films like this. You want to support movies that are made because someone has something they want to say, not because they have a release date and a contract for the toy tie-ins at McDonald’s. And because when artists do something like this that encourages the act of movie going more than any single title, everyone benefits.
And, hey, even if you can’t do this, put all of these films on your radar. I say it every year when I hear people bitching about how “there’s nothing good out,” but it’s true. If you want to see the year’s best movies, more often than not, you will have to work at it. You will have to hunt some of them down. Some may never come to your area, and you may not catch up until home video.
Whatever the case, I love seeing a moment like this. It restores my faith that the people making these movies are in it for the right reasons, and that what they do matters to them. And, maybe, to you as well.