Sunday, March 30, 2014

In Theaters: The Lego Movie

Poster via

If something called The Lego Movie were going to work on anyone, it probably would work on me. I had a tubful of those damned bricks as a kid, and to this day, they exert a certain hold- it's hard NOT to start building something with them, and harder still to keep that construction from growing increasingly elaborate, until of course I realize I need even more of the bricks to round out my concept. I think they may actually create some kind of chemical dependency. But I was wary when seeing these generic toys made into a movie; it could either work really well or come off as the most cynical, calculated exercise imaginable.

It works. Oh man, does it work. The makers of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street would be the ones to make such an unlikely concept sing, and they bring to this colorful brickfest a fittingly anarchic sense of humor, melded with a sincere and kind of sophisticated message about human creative potential. It's a film that gives us a peppy song called "Everything is Awesome" first satirically, then enthusiastically, a film that deflates the myth of the Chosen Hero of Destiny before building it up all over again, and a film full of surprises.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Bookshelf: The Beach House by James Patterson & Peter De Jonge

When I was given this book, I saw an opportunity to take a look at modern thriller fiction, which is something I don't normally pay much attention to. James Patterson is one of those writers whose books you see everywhere, and he makes no secret of relying on co-authors to deliver the apparent hundreds of titles expected of him per year. Far be it from me to look down on popular fiction; there is an art to a good page-turner, to making the reader feel they just have to see what happens next. The Beach House isn't a complete letdown on this front, to be sure, but it's a toothless experience, a conspiracy thriller which avoids visceral bite in favor of vague class-awareness posturing.