Hector and the Search for Happiness

Written by Peter Chelsom, Tinker Lindsay & Maria von Heland
Directed by Peter Chelsom
Based on Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord

HECTOR_AND_THE_SEARCH_FOR_HAPPINESSThere’s a certain type of person who will reflexively cringe at a film titled Hector and the Search for Happiness. Sincerity has the power to disarm the ironic, confound the cynical and stultify the overly serious. This is the established advantage of sincerity, in life as in art. However, the artistic value of sincerity stops here. In the movie business, “heart warming” and “life affirming” are generous synonyms for “sentimental” and “optimistic fluff.” Worse still, the cinematic merits of these films are often overshadowed by the conclusion that there is a good kind of escapism. And that’s if the aforementioned sincerely-made, life-affirming and heart-warming film can avoid being smothered by an oceanic tide of bad press from critics who are rightfully bored with stories burdened by clichés and trite existentialism. Hector and the Search for Happiness will not avoid these kinds of reviews. After all, its director is especially infamous for giving the world a full-length feature film starring Disney-era Miley Cyrus. Still, as a movie that will live and (mostly) die by its press, good and bad, Hector is a defensible if relatively inconclusive comedic musing on finding satisfaction in middle age and learning how to be critical of oneself while avoiding self-pity. Continue reading

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Guardians of the Galaxy

Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman
Directed by James Gunn
Based on Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Marvel Studios, 2014

GUARDIANS_OF_THE_GALAXY

Formerly the black sheep of the film world, science fiction was long considered simply an outlet for puerile impulses despite the mature social commentary of War of the Worlds (1953) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and the grand art experimentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The new millennium has enjoyed a renaissance of thinking when it comes to sci-fi, which now competes with medieval fantasy for the crown of most influential genre in film and television. But with great success often comes great misunderstanding. The overt seriousness of so many sci-fi films has undermined their former strength. In having to prove themselves against the suspicion that they were without value, science fiction writers and directors subverted and largely coveted their disadvantages. Seriousness was masked by shtick, statement by theatrics, as if to say: I dare you to enjoy me. In a genre that has become tired at a shocking pace, there has never been a greater need for humor and self-awareness. Almost inexplicably, a fantastic, fun and funny film came to rescue a genre that, like a king soon to be betrayed, was in desperate need of some new ideas. That film was Guardians of the Galaxy. Continue reading