If you liked: Tangled
Why: Really, this recommendation is only for those folks living under a rock since last November–or those who heard frighteningly off-their-rocker reports about Frozen being the most progressive Disney movie ever. As if! Good news for you: come out from under there, and don’t listen to them. Watch Frozen. If you liked Tangled, you should like Frozen more. If you’re already sick of the soundtrack, get over it. (Ha! And you thought I was going to say “let it go.”) I enjoyed this movie for too many reasons to list intelligibly here (snow, ice, winter, spring, love, fear, loyalty, sacrifice, northern lights, music, NORWAY), so go here instead.
If you liked: Sweet Home Alabama
Why: This is a genuinely funny flick that establishes several solid points (without preaching) and even cleverly contrives to avoid the sine qua non of rom-coms: that of the main characters sticking a pin in the balloon of plot tension and sleeping together 2/3rds through the film. By steering cooly around that (2/3rds and throughout), Hitch maintains both its purity and our interest.
Recommended: Guardians of the Galaxy
If you liked: The Avengers
Why: I recommended, no, loved, no adored this movie in another post a couple weeks ago, but here it is again because you really, really, really need to go see it while it’s still in theaters. (Curmudgeons, beware, because you’re about to face a mirror. Anything you say can and will be used against you–and will reveal that you, at the end of the day, just don’t enjoy being happy.) Guardians of the Galaxy is exactly what everyone wants to see at least once a summer: a gleeful, thrilling, visually spectacular caper with just enough tough heroism and emotional warmth to go beyond pure entertainment.
Action With a Brain
Recommended: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
If you liked: The Bourne Supremacy
Why: This was WAY more intense than I thought it was going to be. And smarter. And more fun. The bookends are a little weak: Act I is a bit patchy (filled with false starts) and Act III a tad rote, but Act II is sizzling and delicious and scary and you should watch it. (I mean it–the movie.) As for the big question–is Chris Pine Jack Ryan?–the answer is… not really. He’ll do in a pinch, but he feels fairly interchangeable; unlike Dr. Ryan himself, he never really convinces us that he is the only man for the job. Keira Knightley is shockingly–I repeat, shockingly–tasteful despite hanging onto her traditional “aren’t my fangs sexy” smirk. Kevin Costner is solid, though I could have sworn every second of the film that he was about to actually become interesting. As it is, he is but a pale shadow (aw, dang, was that a pun?) of his equivalent: James Earl Jones’ Admiral Greer, a mountain of ethos and hidden backstory. The real show-stealer? Dun dun dun… Kenneth Branagh. Holy cow. He should play nothing but sadists for the rest of his life. His snowy Russian accent alone is worth the two hours.
Recommended: The Hollow Crown: Henry IV
If you enjoyed: Henry V (Kenneth Branagh’s)
Why: The rest of the Hollow Crown miniseries is disappointing; I turned off Richard III in a fit of boredom and I still bitterly resent the way they botched Henry V, but as for this–this tremendous victory is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. I stand in awe of the director, adapters, and entire cast–including a sublime Jeremy Irons as the dying Henry IV and an impressive Simon Russell Beale as Falstaff, but most especially the mighty, meticulous, brilliantly self-posssessed Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal. Watch out for the occasional ob-scene which gets moved on-screen, but other than that, this is a true feast of talent. The highest thrill comes with the rich, golden, kingly joviality of the climax. There is just something deeply gladdening about seeing a good man crowned a good king; am I right? Prince Hal begins the wayward, immoral son; he ends up the righteous ruler. Americans don’t get to enjoy this ordinarily like the Brits, but the coronation scene still strikes a chord, giving us a hint–like spying a sunrise through a peephole–of the glories of Christ the King and the jubilation that only having such a High King on the throne of heaven can bring.