Monday, June 29, 2015

New release roundup for June '15

Love and Mercy. I knew that Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson had issues, but I never knew the full extent of them until watching this fine biopic chronicling two crucial periods of his life: as a younger man, putting together the seminal album Pet Sounds, and as an older man, fighting mental illness. John Cusack and Paul Dano both play Wilson, and both are quite good. One unusual aspect of this movie is the use of sound: in addition to all the great Beach Boys music, Wilson claims to hear voices in his head, and the film's aural mix combines both dialogue and music into a trippy swirl at different intervals, including the beginning. There's also a slow 360-degree pan of a studio where the rehearsed music comes at you from various angles. Be sure to see this in a theater with an excellent sound system.

Inside Out. I once wrote an autobiographical comic strip years ago that was not unlike this premise - individual aspects of a human personality bickering - only the approach was completely different, as was the story. I seriously doubt I have a case for a suit, and in any event, Pixar has done it a million times better. Actually, this reminded me a whole lot more of the original Toy Story - fantastic beings in service to a human child led by a gung-ho, can-do hero archetype who gets separated from the group with his counterpart. Lots more action and suspense here than I would've expected from a story that suggests something more cerebral and dramatic. And as for the short film "Lava" that preceded it, if Disney is smart, they'll mount an Oscar campaign for that song.

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