LA Film Fest Reviews: Crystal Fairy and Monsters University
Sebastián Silva just directed two Michael Cera features and at least one, Crystal Fairy, is bizarre and excellent. The story is rather simple, an American dick studies abroad in Chile in order to party and try the uber-psychedelic San Pedro, a cactus native to the Northern regions. Cera, his Chilian roommate, and brothers have a trip all planned out, but Cera sabotages their own intentions by trying to impress the groovy hippie chick, Crystal Fairy, at a party and drunkenly invites her along on their journey.
The beauty of Crystal Fairy evolves from the shifting group dynamic between Cera and the Chilian brothers, portrayed with honest naïveté by Silva’s three younger brothers and how it falters when Fairy joins them. Cera’s abrasive, insensitive American plays well against his established innocent persona, while feeling like a totally honest character. Gaby Hoffman’s fearless portrayal of the hypocritical hippie, Fairy, is something to behold. She literally bears all in a moving and disturbing performance.
The film weaves between a hipster comedy of manors, road trip, drug film, and honest drama but never settles long enough to get stale. Not much happens in Crystal Fairy, but its small character driven rewards feel like grand revelations. The excellent, yet sloppy cinematography and great music selection only elevate its already assured scenes. I’m eager to see this film again and to see Silva’s other Cera picture, Magic Magic, but I hear lightning doesn’t strike twice.
Pixar is dead. If the back-to-back of Cars 2 and Brave didn’t seal the deal, then Monsters University will. While the past two pictures were so obviously missteps, this one trips and plunges into the indiscernible Hollywood slurry. Monsters University gets under my fingernails like bamboo spikes because of its mediocrity.
Monsters University brings nothing new to the Monsters universe that was not already created in the excellent first film, yet seems fine with it as it skips along at a brisk pace. I found myself chuckling at a few of the lame jokes and was happy with the inclusion of Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s Charlie Day as a wacky new monster. People of my generation (late 20s) grew up on Pixar in a way that we were young enough to be enchanted, but old enough to appreciate the new films and analytically follow their progression. It pains me to see a studio, who used to produce only amazing films, fall so far with only varying degrees of recent success. It seems that Pixar is now fine with producing the same old recycled crap, just with newer and better animation. Pour out a little Old E on the sidewalk. A giant has fallen.