In front of and behind the camera, you will find creative people that deftly understand and properly tap into the spirit and flavor of the classic genres and eras they are blending. Breathing jazzy life into a Hollywood musical set in the present day of Priuses and iPhones, Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to “Whiplash” is a modern cinematic masterpiece. It is the kind of film where you will remember where you were when you first saw it. You will not find a more jubilant, romanticized, or flat-out entertaining film this year.
Lags of preparation and mounting conflict aside, there is more than enough big-screen excitement infusing the gravitas that give way to pathos. “Rogue One” smoothly delves into an untold narrative while providing clever and catchy callbacks and nods to the expanded universe we know is on the other side of the horizon. Fleshing out key history, “Rogue One” instantly becomes an indispensable companion piece to “Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope.” Watching this mini saga and seeing the seeds it plants makes one appreciate the fruits of the 39-year-old classic’s triumphs even more.
As entertainment, movies are an ideally suited artistic medium to motivate or stimulate emotional responses. The smartly composed narratives among them can pull that off naturally. Others force it. When such happens, manipulation replaces motivation. For an example, look no further than “Collateral Beauty” starring Will Smith and directed by David Frankel. It is one of the most egregious miscalculations of filmmaking and marketing in recent memory.
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