News Column

Off-the-grid films were among summer of 2013's best

September 5, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 05--Did fan culture kill the summer movie blockbuster?

Many of the summer's films were sci-fi-centric, and most of them looked the same. Perhaps the sheer number of them guaranteed that not all would do well at the box office.

In the United States, the audience was limited to the genre's fans, although some films did well overseas, thus ensuring profit and sequels.

To me, "Man of Steel" was the best of this group -- although its glow is dimmed by news that Ben Affleck would play Batman in the Superman sequel -- and "Iron Man 3" was among the worst.

Then there was "The Lone Ranger," for which I had a perverse affection.

But most of my summer movie pleasures were off-the-grid films -- three of them romances -- made for an adult audience hungry for alternatives.

"Love Is All You Need" I admit to being emotionally available to Susanne Bier's love story between a breast cancer survivor and a widower and workaholic (Trine Dyrholm, Pierce Brosnan) who meet on the way to her daughter and his son's wedding and develop an emotional intimacy.

"Blue Jasmine" Woody Allen continues to appeal to a wide, underserved audience of adult viewers with solid storytelling. This, his 46th film, will end up the top-grossing indie film of the year. Cate Blanchett is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination, as the once affluent woman who loses everything and is unable to adapt to her new life.

"Much Ado About Nothing" Joss Whedon's playful and daring modern-day Shakespeare adaptation -- filmed at Whedon's home in black and white -- was the romantic comedy of the summer.

"Fruitvale Station" A day -- the last day -- in the life of a troubled young man trying to straighten out this life who was shot by Bay Area Rapid Transit police in 2009. Comparisons to the Trayvon Martin verdict are unavoidable.

"The Grandmaster" Epic martial arts love story about a young woman (Ziyi Zhang) trained by her father, a Kung Fu master, and the man chosen as his successor (Tony Leung). Set against the backdrop of the Japanese invasion and the partitioning of Hong Kong. Atmospheric and poetic film by Wong Kar Wai, based on the life of Ip Man, who taught Bruce Lee.

Email: ddudek@journalsentinel.com

Twitter: @TheDudekAbides.

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