News Column

What to Watch: 'Escape From Tomorrow,' 'The Selfish Giant,' 'Gloria'

May 2, 2014

By John Beifuss, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.

May 02--What to watch this week? How about some movies that screened in Memphis earlier this year before disappearing all too soon?

"Escape from Tomorrow (Not rated, 90 min.) Giant rodents that walk upright, half-human dogs and living puppets -- these are creatures to inspire terror. Unless of course you're at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, in which case these are creatures named Mickey, Goofy and Pinocchio. An audacious movie-industry calling card for its ingenious and resourceful novice writer-director, Randy Moore, "Escape from Tomorrow" was the opening night film on Oct. 31 at the Indie Memphis Film Festival; it didn't earn a Malco run, but it screened again Jan. 9 at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Applauded by The Hollywood Reporter for its "subversive surrealism," the movie scratches the clean plastic surface of the Disney -- the American? -- dream to reveal something dangerous and corrupt, as a beleaguered husband (Roy Abramsohn) sinks into delirium during a stressful family vacation. The movie received a great deal of awed publicity because Moore and his cast and crew shot much of the film without permission inside the Disney parks, and essentially dared the notoriously litigious entertainment giant to sue to stop the film's release; Disney demurred, and now -- more than year after the movie's Sundance debut and several months after its very limited theatrical run -- "Escape from Tomorrow" arrived this week on DVD (everywhere) and Blu-ray (exclusively at Best Buy). The discs are loaded with the expected behind-the-scenes features and commentaries, which in this case should be more interesting than usual.

"The Selfish Giant" (Not rated, 91 min.) Writer-director Clio Barnard's drama about two misfit young best friends in the working-class Midlands region of England is one of the year's most powerful films, a work that is both compassionate and unblinking as it follows a scrappy and foul-mouthed "spazz" (newcomer Conner Chapman) and his gentle pal (Shaun Thomas) through a series of alternately comic and grim but ultimately tragic misadventures. The location photography and the mix of novice and professional actors invest every scene with a startling authenticity; this realism makes the misfortune that hits the characters all too convincing and hard to bear. The movie was released on DVD this week and also is available via Amazon Instant and other on-demand services.

"Gloria" (R, 110 ) Despite stellar reviews, this 2013 Argentine film from writer-director SebastiÁn Lelio wasn't held past its initial week's run in March at the Malco Ridgeway Four; so here it is less than two months later, on DVD via Lions Gate. Paulina Garcia -- as worthy of a Best Actress Oscar nomination as any of this year's actual contenders, and I'm not exaggerating -- plays the title character, a lonely but not morbid 50-something divorced woman trying to enjoy a life of diminishing returns. Gloria is a sexual being, and her nudity is presented naturally, with a matter-of-factness generally denied women of Garcia's age and average appearance in Hollywood movies; this realism ought to be unremarkable, but in the context of movie culture, it becomes something glorious.


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Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

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