One thing worth celebrating this week is that Spike Jonze has finally won an Oscar. Undeniably one of the most creative filmmakers in America today (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, Where the Wild Things Are) Jonze also feels like one of us, like action sports culture has slid one past the big studios. Last weekend he took home the Best Original Screenplay award for Her.
And the dude is a cultural tour de force — Spike Jonze made perhaps the best music video ever (Beastie Boys Sabotage) at the peak of the genre and his Fatboy Slim videos certainly helped popularize electronic dance music in North America (for better or for worse). He's the creative director for VBS.tv, which is Vice Magazine's video/news outlet producing the most honest journalism and engaging entertainment on the Internet. He co-owns Girl skateboards and has made some seminal skate flicks (check out Yeah, Right) and it's worth pointing out that Jonze is also a co-producer on everything from the Jackass camp. Love them or hate them, the Jackass crew are innovative comedians constantly pushing the lines around our current fascination with "reality" entertainment. Spike Jonze is the man, and if you haven't seen Being John Malkovich or Adaptation get on that right now. Jonze even gets not one but two epic performances from Nic Cage in Adaptation.
Here in the theatres it's a bit of an Oscar hangover week, although Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave is screening at the Village 8. It's not super cheerful, but it's a powerful, excellent flick and worth seeing. So is The Wolf of Wall Street, which was shut out at the Oscars, not surprisingly.
On the mindless entertainment front, 300: Rise of an Empire starts Friday. As a sequel, it's a few years late to ride on the hype from the first 300 but there is lots of violence, muscles and a crazy sex scene that rivals the hottub sequence in Showgirls for bonkers sex comedy.
300: Rise of an Empire takes place at almost the same time as the original, but focuses on another battle. Eva Green (Casino Royale) steals the film as Artemisia, a banished Greek who joins the Persians and leads a naval assault on her old homeland at about the same time Leonidas and his 300 Spartans are dying in droves. Artemisia is batshit crazy though, and she brings it.
While lacking some of the wow factor of the original (and much of the heroic punch) 300: Rise of an Empire stands up as an ultraviolent ballet of blood and mayhem where every frame looks like it could be artwork pulled from Frank Miller's comic. It's rated 18A due to all the slicing, dicing and Eva Green's unparalleled awesomeness.
For the kids, Mr. Peabody & Sherman opens Friday. The world's most extraordinary animated dog has to go back in time to save his dumb human buddy, the young romantic interest, and perhaps the world. It looks a bit like Bill & Ted for the non-BPA generation, but kids love dogs and everyone loves to hear about holes in the space-time continuum. Mr. Peabody has lots of history, some really clean animation and is directed by the guy who made The Lion King. Sounds like a hit.
The download of the week is a new (to me) site called snagfilms.com that has over 10,000 flicks available for easy, free streaming. They slip in the odd commercial, and you won't find the latest Hollywood blockbusters, but there are tons of great music films, foreign flicks, documentaries and historical/niche stuff like Invasion of the Bee Girls or 1970s Blaxploitation flick Jive Turkey. It even has 2006's Heavy Metal Parking Lot Alumni: Where are they now? And I know that question has been weighing on everyone.