‘World of Tomorrow’
We’ve written about Don Hertzfeldt’s incredible — and now Oscar-nominated — animated short ad nauseum, but only because it's so good it’s been worth shelling over a couple bucks to watch on Vimeo. Now it lives on Instant, and there’s no better use of your time. One of last year’s very best films, no matter the length (16 minutes), it’s another gouger from the stick figure maven, whose work — “Rejected,” “The Meaning of Life,” the feature-length “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” plus the craziest “Simpsons” couch gag ever — is equal parts hilarious and depressing.
Here, he imagines a deep future — told with retina-searing colors and smudgy lines — where an nth-generation clone uses time travel to impart wisdom upon her original. Unfortunately she’s a little girl, and she doesn’t get much out of downer talk about decaying bodies and failed love. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry, as they say, and usually at the same time.
‘Queen of Earth’
In “Listen Up Philip,” filmmaker Alex Ross Perry showed off his considerable gifts for verbal abuse. This follow-up shows off his gifts for mood and unease. “Philip” supporting player Elisabeth Moss gets promoted to the front lines, playing a once-perky young woman unraveling after the death of her father and a nasty break-up.
Shacking up in the rural New York getaway home of a longtime friend (Katherine Waterston), she goes from bad to worse, while Perry and ace cinematographer Sean Pryce Williams use creeping zooms and eerily close close-ups to mess with our nerves. It looks like midnight movie fare, but it withholds all the genre goods, instead creating a horrified but sympathetic look at madness — with the occasional requisite Perry tough talk, from both Waterston and a peerlessly dickish Patrick Fugit.
The two studio comedies the Coen brothers made before 2007’s “No Country for Old Men” weren’t judged too kindly at the time. But 2003’s “Intolerable Cruelty” and especially their remake of a nasty Ealing Studios/Alec Guinness great age nicely. The latter boasts an ace up its sleeve: It’s one of the few timessince his young days when Tom Hanks actively tried to be funny.
Dressed like Colonel Sanders and speaking molasses-like through a thick Foghorn Leghorn accent and a giant set of teeth, the Oscar god joins a rat pack of thieves sporting the Coens’ goofiest-ever names: Marlon Wayans’ Gawain McSam, J.K. Simmons’ Garth Pancake, etc. Their darkly comic attempts to rob a caino from the home of a cranky Irma P. Hall (in a Cannes-winning turn) are peppered with “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”-style hangs with Deep South gospel performers. But the yuks are the things, and even when you can sense the Coens stooping to mainstream tastes, they manage to twist the jokes to their own, eccentric whims. Heck, even Simmons’ Pancake enthusiastically babbling about IBS slays.