7:00 PM, 10th May, 2014
As Hollywood gets more and more focussed on remakes and cross-licenses, it’s remarkable how fresh and vibrant this film feels. It is in fact a new story and the first Lego feature film yet made. Nevertheless the visual style draws heavily on the string of “Lego X” video games (arguably all essentially the same game with different levels and graphics assets). There’s also a sprinkling of Warner Brothers properties in cameo (DC superheroes Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern).
The main character is Emmet (Pratt), an everyman nobody who is mistaken for being the messianic ‘Special’. Emmet joins a fellowship of minifigs seeking to stop the evil President Business (Ferrell) as he seems to control the universe (though he’s only got a loose grip on his private life).
Joining Emmet on this journey are Batman (Arnett) and Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks), a cyberpunk reminiscent of Trinity from The Matrix series and main champion of Emmet. Supporting characters are Vitruvius (Freeman), an archetypal bearded wise man and Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson).
The film is directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo behind the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs films and 21 Jump Street (as well as producing episodes of “How I Met Your Mother”).
8:50 PM, 10th May, 2014
Director Mira Nair brought us the wonderfully rich Monsoon Wedding from India. Now she has done even better with this story of Changez, brilliantly portrayed by Riz Ahmed, a Pakistani Muslim who goes from Princeton University to success in the corporate world of Wall Street. Life changes for him after the 9/11 Twin Towers destruction.
This is a serious outsider’s look at America. It is a strong experience of cross-cultural conflict, of alienation and discrimination which will have you thinking for weeks. We observe his life in New York where he has all that capitalism can offer. We see Lahore where Pakistan is trying to adapt to the modern quest for profit maximisation and wealth accumulation.
Nair manages to explore the conflict between these two cultures. Compare the extremism of ultra-high finance with religious fundamentalism. She challenges preconceptions about the West and the East. We get an introduction into the life of a terrorist and we see how the US forces protect their security. While you can understand that in today’s world many people are suspicious of bearded Muslim men here you get to see what it is like from the other side.
We don’t get the answer here but the film is full of colour and music and vibrant life. It was voted best film by the audience at two film festivals, an indication of how successful it is.