TOP 5: FOCUS, BLADE RUNNER 2, POWER RANGERS Short Film, PARKS AND RECREATION Finale, Oscars Recap

     February 28, 2015

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Now streaming on Netflix is director Lenny Abrahamson‘s beautifully strange music comedy/drama Frank. Inspired by co-writer Jon Ronson‘s time as the keyboardist for Frank Sidebottom’s band, the film premiered at Sundance in 2014 (read Matt’s review), received a limited U.S. theatrical release last August, and spurred this nifty live performance by its fictional band, The Soronprfbs, on The Colbert Report. The pic has enjoyed near universal acclaim but, like its subjects, has struggled to gain a foothold outside of its niche audience. I’ll do my best to help rectify that below.

Frank stars Michael Fassbender, Domhnall GleesonMaggie Gyllenhaal, and Scoot McNairy, and while the latter three give great performances, Fassbender steals the show as The Soronprfbs’ enigmatic frontman. His face hidden behind a large papier-mâché mask, Fassbender is forced to convey Frank’s emotions by way of line delivery and body language. For a lesser actor this challenge may have proven too tall a task. Not for Fassbender. His take on the titular character is so on point that you never doubt the proposition that he’s a creative, musical genius coping with mental illness. Frank has plenty of worthwhile ideas (its positioning of social media as a hollow gauge of “success” will be relevant for years to come), but the one that stuck with me the most is its opposition to the thought that true talent and creativity can by manufactured if you add enough adversity to the mix. Abrahamson’s film rejects the glorification of the suffering/troubled artist in this way and the result is a compelling mix of funny, warm, and heartbreaking.

If you haven’t already left to watch Frank, then let’s move on to this week’s Top 5:

1. FOCUS Review and Interview with Will Smith & Margot Robbie

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A Will Smith vehicle opened this weekend in first place at the box office. It may not be the summer blockbuster release the actor was once known for but, hey, it’s better than not topping The Lazarus Effect. While Focus may not be setting any February box office records and is pulling in lukewarm reviews (read Matt’s own review here), directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have earned my benefit of the doubt due to how much I enjoyed their last film Crazy, Stupid, Love.. Add in the fact that Margot Robbie is a star in the making and I’ll probably be checking this one out. For more on Focus, read Christina’s interview with stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie.

2. BLADE RUNNER 2: Ford Confirmed with Villeneuve in Talks to Direct

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Ignoring the sentiment that of course Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner doesn’t need a sequel, the fact is that we’re getting one anyway. That in mind, I actually think the idea of Harrison Ford returning in a small, but “critical” role with Denis Villeneuve in talks to direct is a promising start to the follow-up. I loved Villenueve’s Prisoners and have only heard good things about Enemy, so count me among those who believe this just might turn out okay. And if it doesn’t? The good news is that the quality of the sequel will have no bearing on the legacy of the original.

3. Adi Shankar and Joseph Kahn Deliver Violent POWER RANGERS Short Film

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Many Power Ranger fans either had their dreams come true or their worst fear realized this past week when producer Adi Shankar and director Joseph Kahn tackled the property by releasing the dark, violent short film Power/Rangers. There was a brief dust-up when Saban Brands made a copyright claim, causing YouTube to pull the film. However, all seems to have returned cordial as the pic is once again available to view on the site. The question now is whether you prefer a more mature take on the franchise or you long for the days when the Rangers didn’t snort crack.

4. PARKS AND RECREATION Series Finale Coverage

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This past Tuesday marked the Series Finale for NBC’s Parks and Recreation. I’ve written about my adoration for the show on more than one occasion so it should come as no surprise that seeing it come to an end (along with the tragic passing of Harris Wittels) has been difficult to say the least. I could go on and on about the things I loved about Parks, but Adam actually did a pretty great job of summing it up in his Five Reasons to Be Thankful Parks and Recreation Existed editorial. For more on the show’s finale, check out Evan’s episode recap and a few Easter Eggs you may have missed because you had something in your eye while watching.

5. 2015 Oscars Recap Coverage

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The Oscars came and went last Sunday night, leaving lots of love for Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel in its wake and very little for my personal favorite, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. Given all of the time we put into preparing you for the awards season, it’s only fitting that we’d close it out with some final sentiments in the form of a recap of the winners, a look at the best performances and acceptance speeches of the night, and, most importantly, Adam’s Oscars Postmortem editorial.

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