Monday, May 4, 2015

Best of March/April 2015

It's a toss-up for March, but I'm going to have to give it to The Kid Brother over Amelie (which I also loved.) If you think you don't like silent movies, you obviously haven't seen this. Made in 1927, it stars the third member of the silent comedy trio: Harold Lloyd (we now remember Keaton and Chaplin, but Lloyd is mostly forgotten.) It's a hilarious, clever, heart-warming little film which has aged incredibly well. Watch here.

The Lego Movie is simply one of the most creative things I've seen in ages. Not only does it take place in a sumptuously-designed, incredibly complex CGI world, but it's packed with intelligent political and economic commentary. (I find it just as difficult to believe as anyone else.) And Liam Neeson plays an Irish Lego cop who's worth the price of admission.

I'd heard about Firefly for ages. It gained legendary status following its martyrdom to the coffers of evil Fox executives, merely halfway through its first series. But let's be fair: it really is good. It combines the two great American genres - space operas and westerns - with a bit of Joss Whedon flair, in a thoroughly original universe. And this is serious world-building here, of a quality rare in scifi or fantasy these days. On top of that, it's headed up by the hilarious Nathan Fillion. While the rest of the cast is a little uneven (British casts have me spoiled), in classic Whedonesque style, they are all quickly established and form an interesting, varied, unpredictable team.

Vera follows in the tradition of the deceptively-simple-old-lady-detective genre. Unlike Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher, Vera Stanhope is an actual police officer, and not even an underdog maverick like many of her male equivalents (Morse, Frost, Foyle, to some extent Gently), but a hard-drinking, short-tempered D.C.I. with no apparent boss. Since we still need a prickly authority figure to spice things up, Vera herself stands in. She provides a sympathetic ear to witnesses (unless she suspects them of lying, in which case it's war), but her colleagues must deal with her acerbic perfectionism. Thankfully, her incredibly cute sidekick, Joe Ashworth, is the world's most patient sergeant. They're easily one of my new favorite duos. Watch here.

Hannah Long

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