This is a special kind of weirdness in a line of weird films from Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Silva. His last two films have investigated the stranger in a strange land – North Americans lost physically and metaphysically in South America. This bizarre movie just keeps spiraling into miscommunication and crazy circumstances, but we never get our feet under us enough to get dizzy or really even care about the characters. Full of young, up-and-coming stars – Juno Temple, Michael Cera, Emily Browning and Catalina Sandino Moreno – their performances are rich. But they are spent in a film that goes nowhere except untranslatable oddness. “Magic Magic” is less than enchanting, it’s forgettable forgettable – pass.
“A Band Called Death”
This is a documentary about music, about punk music before punk-rock or punk-pop or punk-anything was in our national lexicon. This is a movie about three African-American teenage brothers in the ’70s making music in a spare bedroom of their house. These brothers had no idea what they were doing was groundbreaking. They had no idea that the music they were making was more than an outlet for their frustrations. They had no idea that this music would matter to anyone else but themselves. All they knew is that they wanted to play balls-out rock ‘n’ roll in a band with a horrible, unmarketable name. This is the story of a band named Death, and it’s also the story of how punk-rock was born in a house in Detroit. But it’s also about the devotion of family and uncompromising decisions and substance abuse, and how music moves in cycles of influence. The band Death is worth discovering. And this movie is worth a watch.
“The Great Gatsby”
This is only the fifth feature film for Baz Luhrmann in 20 years of movie making. Two things are certain about a Luhrmann’s films; they’re going to be bright and pretty to look at. Whether you love or hate his style, this guy can make a spectacle. “Strictly Ballroom,” “Romeo + Juliet,” “Moulin Rouge!” and “Australia” all bend the rules of their genres. They all blend time and place, get playful with soundtracks and the acting aims for about a mile over-the-top. And if you like Luhrmann’s style, this one won’t let you down. The roaring ’20s are treated to a modern excessive score, and the era bristles with color, pep and flowing booze. Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton and Isla Fisher talk fast and capture caricatures of the characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book. No, it’s not the truest adaptation of Fitzgerald’s tragic tale about outsiders trying to become something they’re not, but it may be the most fun anyone has had with a tragic tale. It’s different, not great, but definitely worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge