Movie Reviews: The Lego Batman Movie and Paterson

The Lego Batman Movie

Cary, NC – The Lego Batman Movie is a follow-up to the surprisingly great The Lego Movie from a few years ago. That film proved to be smart, original, funny and even had a nice little lesson about creativity and learning to play with others nestled in among all the jokes and sight-gags. The Lego Batman Movie strikes gold again, as the film has jokes and puns flying at you a mile a minute, while also sneaking in the fact that depending on your friends and family is A-OK!

A Great Batman Movie

Batman is my absolute favorite fictional character and one of the things I love most about him is that he can fit into numerous variations. Dark, silly and just about everything in between, and The Lego Batman Movie embraces just about every version of the character. Will Arnett (Arrested Development, 30 Rock) reprises his role to great comedic effect. The actor’s gravely voice fits perfectly for Batman and his chemistry with his crime-fighting, family and villains is perfect.

Clever And Funny Throughout

Batman is inherently a very lonely character, something the movie completely understands and explores without ever forgetting who its audience is and never getting too dark. This is where the film really soars for me. As Batman deals with his loneliness, he’s reminded that it’s OK to ask for help, thanks to Robin, Batgirl, Alfred and many more. I love that the movie is smarter than it really has to be. It never beats the audience over the head with any kind of lesson. But it’s there, and it’s really well done.

Of course, this movie is also really, really funny. The supporting cast is clearly having a blast. Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Superbad) as Robin, Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel, In Bruges) as Alfred, Jenny Slate as Poison Ivy and Zach Galifanakis as The Joker all do great work. Even Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill pop up as Superman and Green Lantern, because why not?

See It!

There is so much joy to be had with The Lego Batman Movie, which might seem odd with a character as dark as the Dark Knight himself, but this movie pulls it off and makes it look so very easy. Definitely worth the trip to the theater!


Paterson

Cary, NC – Paterson is a slow paced look at the poetry present in everyday life, taking one of the stars of the biggest movie franchise ever and letting him show his acting ability in this quiet, beautiful film.

Actors Being Themselves

It is easy to describe the plot of Paterson. A little too easy. A bus driver named Paterson goes through a week in his life in the city of Paterson, New Jersey while writing poetry in his private journal, inspired by the poem “Paterson” by William Carlos Williams. Nothing particularly life-changing happens during this week but we get to see how Paterson, and the people around him, act and think.

The titular Paterson is played by Adam Driver, now catapulted to fame through his role of Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and presumably future Star Wars movies too. But here, Driver shows just how good he is, carefully writing his poetry in his private notebook while being a kind-hearted guy who talks with his wife, hangs out at the neighborhood bar and disciplines an unruly dog.

It is a very natural performance, which is a hallmark of director Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man, Ghost Dog, Broken Flowers). To go along with that, character actors such as Barry Henley (CollateralAli) and William Harper (The Good Place) give this very believable performance as everyday people (even if Harper’s character Everett gets a little worked up by the end). Even the Wu-Tang Clan rapper Method Man shows up to deliver a work-in-progress song that you could believe is a real look at his creative process.

Slice of Life

As nice as the performances are, without an overarching story, some audiences could be turned off by Paterson. In a way, this fits the core of Paterson’s character. He hides his poems in a private book and refuses to let most anyone read them. Even his wife, played by Golshifteh Farahani (About Elly, Rosewater), has only read a few.

But it is not always about seeing art but about what it represents. Paterson beautifully looks at its main character, a hard-working blue collar guy, who could be anyone you meet. And he contains all of these observations about his town, his friends and family, even a box of matches, and finds the poetry in them. If you focus on that, Paterson is almost meditative and can make you feel better about the world.

Also, Jarmusch has an underrated sense of humor. Many characters are effortlessly funny and Farahani’s character is the most outlandish, always contrasting Paterson’s quiet nature with her own eccentricity to great effect.

Recommended

Like a lot of artsy movies, Paterson is not for everyone. If you do not have patience for a “hang out” movie and want a clear plot and story, this is not for you. But it is a beautiful use of film to capture something about life we often overlook and if you are interested, I highly recommend it.


Jordan Hunt reviews movies for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews. Photos from Facebook (Lego Batman Movie/Paterson).

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