Ben Kingsley (opposite Asa Butterfield) plays a rando toy seller in 1930s Paris wh|Paramount Pictures1/2
Ben Kingsley (opposite Asa Butterfield) plays a rando toy seller in 1930s Paris wh|Paramount Pictures
Kenny Baker (most famous as R2-D2) and David Rappaport play teleporting dwarves wh|Criterion Collection2/2
Kenny Baker (most famous as R2-D2) and David Rappaport play teleporting dwarves wh|Criterion Collection
‘Captain America: Civil War’
We include last year’s Marvel romp strictly out of public service: We know you want to watch it, and no grumbling on our part will dissuade you. You won’t heed our warning that it’s another cluttered mess from a blockbuster factory that’s by now spinning madly out of control. You'll disagree that the MCU's continuing larger narrative has become a tangled Christmas lights ball of characters and storylines, with no room for the charm that filled the first “Iron Man.” But you won’t ignore us; you’ll attack us, with names and epithets about our gender, because that’s what comic book's craziest advocates do these days. Anyway, the new Spidey guy is neat and the Avengers battle royale is kind of cool, even if it was shot on a boring airport tarmac. (A tarmac?!) Everything else is forgettable. Judging from the box office, we've lost the war against bloated comic book her movies, and we’ve resigned ourselves to that. In short: “Captain America: Civil War” is now on Netflix Instant.
Right now, Martin Scorsese is on a hot streak. He’s 74 years old, six decades into his filmmaking career, and he’s still capable of something as scathing as “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and something as serene and unique as the new “Silence.” “Hugo,” from 2011, is a delight, too — his deeply eccentric version of a children’s movie, namely one that offers kids (and adults) a lesson in early film history. Asa Butterfield plays an orphan who befriends a grouchy old man (Ben Kingsley). He turns out to be no less than Georges Melies, the cinema and special effects pioneer of “A Trip to the Moon” — and hundreds of other early film wonders that are effectively lost forever. Park your kid in front of it and see if he or she doesn’t grow up to become a Cinema Studies major. Though perhaps that’s not a great idea.
Speaking of unusual children’s films, there was once a time, back circa 1981, when movies made for kids could be bizarre and super dark. The gleefully, out-of-nowhere bleak ending of Terry Gilliam’s time-hopping lark scarred a generation of weird brats, though what preceded it was content to simply be odd. A rare case where Gilliam (mostly) played ball, one of the filmmaker’s few bona fide hits jumps around through a slushy of history, fiction and fantasy, with pit-stops at Napoleon (Ian Holm), Robin Hood (John Cleese) and finally a melee with Evil himself (David Warner, charming). Fun fact: In the screenplay, the appearance of Agamemnon is written as such: “The Greek warrior removes his helmet, revealing himself to be none other than Sean Connery, or an actor of equal or cheaper stature.” Lo and behold, they actually scored Connery himself (for a reduced salary, probably).
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge