Here’s a quick sampling of my week’s watches. You can find more of my reviews at Always Good Movies.
Everybody Wants Some (2016)
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Celebrated filmmaker, Richard Linklater, takes us to a modest Texas college at the beginning of the effervescent decade of the 80’s to tell us an energizing tale about a bunch of students who have in common the fact of being baseball players and love beautiful girls and exciting parties.
If “Boyhood”, shot over 12 years, was a richly intense and incredibly realistic drama, “Everybody Wants Some” is something totally different. To start, it’s a comedy, and a very American one in every sense, following the same lines as the 1993 success “Dazed and Confused”. It’s the type of film with which there is not much to learn, and still, we can’t take our eyes off the screen and pretend that nothing’s going on. Nostalgic in a positive way, the film is suffused with numerable feel-good situations that are sufficiently funny and vitalizing to retrieve the unforgettable vibes of that bygone era. The accurate visuals as a part of the unimpeachable period recreation and the lively performances by the boys did the rest.
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The cute freshman, Jake (Blake Jenner), exhibiting a relaxed and content disposition, arrives at the campus where he introduces himself to his baseball teammates. The simple fact of being a pitcher is enough to provoke some initial friction in some of the old-timers, who end up accepting him with authority but also friendliness. Among the vets and freshmen there are a few who deserve a special mention: the seductive Finnegan (Glen Powell) who loves to talk about his penis with the girls; the competitive Glen McReynolds (Tyler Hoechlin) who freaks out just for losing a ping-pong game; Jay Niles (Juston Street) who was transferred from Detroit carrying a risible bad temper; the cool dude, Willoughby (Wyatt Russell), whose biggest happiness is to smoke weed with friends; the weird Nesbit (Austin Amelio), champion of the silly knuckle-flicking game; and Billy Autrey (Will Brittain), also called Beuter, who is the most restrained of the guys due to his serious commitment with a girlfriend who says she may be pregnant.
With three days left before the beginning of classes, the enthusiastic guys have plenty of time to hang out together in bars and parties, where they drink, dance, and enjoy the company of beautiful young ladies.
The inevitable true romance is reserved for Jake and Beverly (Zoey Deutch), a smart first-year student of theater and dance.
As a curious observation, we conclude that there are no heroes or villains here, just likable characters with their very own personalities.
Mr. Linklater totally discards any type of drama as the little conflicts among some of the friends are easily and quickly forgiven and overcome. What he actually should have done was to give a bit more preponderance to the music throughout the film.
However, he shows how to turn an apparently trivial script into a good movie, just by creating the adequate spirit, as high as the title suggests.
“Everybody Wants Some” is a new American classic bursting with feel-good energies and the unequal grace of youth.
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Born to Be Blue (2015)
Directed by: Robert Budreau
Country: Canada / USA / UK
I was always a big admirer of Chet Baker’s music, but that’s not the reason why I recommend “Born to Be Blue”, a part real, part fictional drama written, directed, and produced by the Canadian Robert Budreau.
Ethan Hawke, despite the physical dissimilarities, was chosen to play the trumpeter, and he does it intimately enough to make us forget such an important detail.
The film takes us to the early 50’s where we can listen to the beautiful standard ‘Let’s Get Lost’, immortalized by Mr. Baker, one of the greatest representatives of the West Coast jazz scene. The black and white images tell us that we’re before a memorable moment recovered from the past.
The present, portrayed in color, shows a quite different reality. Now a heroin addict, Chet Baker lies on the floor of a prison cell and gets the visit of a filmmaker who wants him to play himself in a movie about his earlier years as a heroin addict. During the shootings, Chet makes an impression on Jane (Carmen Ejogo), a struggling actress who agrees to go out with him. That night was only pleasurable until a certain point because Chet’s dealer resolved to settle their accounts by breaking all his teeth. This was the cruelest punishment for the trumpet player who’s told he won’t play again.
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Emotionally devastated, Chet will ever accept this sentence. With his mouth still sore, he tries to play until he spits blood.
However, Jane stays always by his side, becoming his dear girlfriend and supporter. With her, Chet finds a genuine love that gradually makes him recover the lost stability and gain not only the confidence to play again but also the strength to stay away from drugs. After an arduous adaptation to the instrument, new opportunities will come up and the success is in no one’s hands but the musician’s.
Mr. Budreau’s approach is aesthetically neat, giving us more a good general idea about the man’s life than a detailed portraiture.
Even though, we get concrete notions about Chet’s relationships, namely with his sour father, a professional musician who gave up playing and says to be embarrassed about his son; his old producer and friend, Dick Bock; and his fellow jazz trumpeters, the friendly Dizzy Gillespie, and the usually critical Miles Davis.
By using spasmodic flashbacks, the film might not always be chronologically elucidating but evokes the times with honesty and sensitivity.
Amidst the entertaining moments, there were two magical ones, when Chet sings ‘My Funny Valentine’ and ‘I’ve Never Been in Love Before’ with all his soul.
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