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« "A Matter For James Bond" | Main | "See the whole world in a grain of sand" »
Saturday
Jun142014

Two Quickies: "Test" and "Edge of Tomorrow"

Two movies you should see: a buzzy queer indie and a struggling would be blockbuster...

TEST
Chris Mason Johnson, a former dancer turned writer/director, really comes into his voice with his second feature. (He previously directed The New Twenty). Test is about a young dancer named Frankie (Scott Marlowe) in San Francisco in 1985 who, like most gay men at the time, fears he might have AIDS. He learns of a new test he could take to find out. The surprise of Test is that it's not really about AIDS despite the setting and time period so much as a slice of life drama about a young man struggling to face his fears and live his dream. Frankie is an understudy learning a dance he might never get to perform. And a young gay man beginning a life he might never get to live. Test is beautifully lensed for a micro-budgeted indie (I was shocked to hear that the cinematographer is a first timer) and though the pacing and subplots are hit and miss the dancer/actors are endearing and the centerpiece performance is just completely electric stuff. B+

P.S. Here's my interview with the director at Towleroad
I'll share excerpts that I didn't use for that piece soon that I think you cinephiles/musical addicts will enjoy. Test is playing in New York and available OnDemand and at iTunes.

 

EDGE OF TOMORROW
I had planned on avoiding this but the reviews, which I didn't read but gleaned were raves, caught me off guard. If you've also planned to skip, reconsider. I thought a movie that absorbed the very soul and structure of a video game (repeat until your kinetic memory gets every move right) would be highly annoying but I was wrong. It's sharply written, well acted and often exciting even if some of its moves are familiar (Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day meets Aliens?). Tom Cruise is extremely well cast as a smarmy coward who is all surface and has to actually work his way towards heroics and soul. And Emily Blunt, memorably dubbed "Full Metal Bitch" is approximately 1000% believable as an action heroine, proving yet again that she should be a much bigger star. 

I can't say that I necessarily believe this would hold up to repeat viewings and, like every current action movie, there's too much CGI, too much generic dystopian destruction, typical color palette, but it was so entertaining and cleverly structured that I feel too generous towards it to quibble. But... I am not a fan of the ending which makes no damn sense whatsoever, even given the elaborate suspension-of-disbelief conceit. B+

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Reader Comments (9)

I saw Edge of Tomorrow after a difficult work related function where I just wanted to see things blow up real good. I enjoyed most of it, and there were some very tense parts. Emily Blunt was great. But I kept being reminded of Source Code, which was better constructed and had clearer images.

But I hated, really hated the ending. Spoiler coming.

Spoiler: the main point of this movie is to wipe the idiotic smarmy grin off Tom Cruise's face. Emily Blunt says they won't make it through this, and that is perfectly acceptable. In Source Code, they accepted that perpetual reanimation was too damaging and the subject should be allowed release. I don't want to see Tom Cruise, who has not become a Groundhog Day better man, flashing his smart aleck smirk and "getting the girl". Kill him again, Emily.

June 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

I agree with everything you said about Edge of Tomorrow, particularly any and all positive comments about the awesome Emily Blunt.

I know that this site is favorably inclined towards Scarlett Johansson, and with Her, Under the Skin and Don Jon, she has certainly gone a long, long way from the glazed, soul-dead monotone that was her trademark for quite a while there, but I will forever yearn for the Emily Blunt Black Widow that unfortunately wasn't meant to be.

June 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterF

Saw Test at the Berlin Film Festival in February and found it charming. Loved the commitment to portraying dancers (and what dancers!) and their process.

June 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

F -- well Scarlett redeemed her casting eventually but I agree that it's sad we'll never see Blunt's Black Widow when i first heard about that casting I was like YES. PERFECT. (which is not common with me for superhero casting)

June 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nat: I'd love to see her finally get into the superhero genre in a lead role, but the question is: Where? Unless Marvel actually asks Fox for individual mutant buys (you know Singer and crew are never going to touch Dazzler), there's almost nothing they could justify as interesting enough and non-distaff.

June 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Emily Blunt is glorious in this, I keep falling in love with her over and over and over again.

June 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

"Edge of Tomorrow " is better than expected well at least the first hour and any scenes with Emily Blunt- but it falls into the same CGI action trap and the same alien invasion movie plot point-( and why was this shot in 3 -D )

June 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Blunt is always great.

June 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

Emily Blunt better be at the top of the list for the Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel role. Hopefully the fact that she originally had the Black Widow role means that Marvel is somewhat fond of her.

June 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpaco.

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