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FLICKS: Before Midnight & Monsters University

Posted on 27 June 2013 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


Before Midnight & Monsters University Before Midnight is a film 18 years in the making.

In 1994, actors Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and director Richard Linklater collaborated on an art house movie titled Before Sunrise. Filmed on the streets of Vienna, this plotless movie featured Jessie (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) talking about the meaning of life.

Nine years later, Hawke, Delpy and Linklater reunited in Before Sunset. Shot in real time, this 80-minute motion picture reveal Jessie and Celine in their 30s. This time, they roam the streets of Paris and talk about regrets. Both movies ask the question — will Celine and Jessie get together?

Before Midnight presents the morning after. Now in their 40s, Jessie suffers from a father’s guilt, while Celine feels like she has betrayed her career aspirations by becoming a mother. The couple has spent the summer in a writer’s retreat on a Greek Archiplelago. When the host family agrees to babysit the children, Jessie and Celine are given one night of intimacy.

For the first two thirds of the movie, Before Midnight seems to be repeating the formula of the first two movies. However, things change for the worse when the two arrive in their claustrophobic hotel room. What were once cute volleys and flirtations, now become ugly and abusive.

To Hawke, Delpy and Linklater’s credit, Before Midnight is a truthful movie. The three dig into their own personal barnacles and let them scrape each other. The fight in the hotel room is not comfortable to watch, but it does feel like a logical extension from that one night in Vienna 18 years ago.

Twelve years ago, Shrek battled Monsters Inc., in what became a symbolic battle between DreamWorks and Disney/Pixar studios, respectively. Shrek won the first ever Oscar for best animated feature, but Monsters Inc. won more awards and the box office gross. After four movies, Shrek retired into his swamp, but the characters from Monsters Inc. never lost public affection.

Monsters University is the prequel and puts the focus upon the one-eyed midget Cyclops Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal). While buddies in Monsters Inc., we discover that Mike and Sullivan (John Goodman) were undergraduate rivals. In their petty rivalry, Mike and Sully run afoul Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), the hardnosed administrator who is part dragon.

This is a fun motion picture with an upbeat musical score. However, it lacks the heart of the first motion picture, which induced some tears. In fact, the short subject that precedes it, The Blue Umbrella, contains more heart than either Before Midnight or Monsters University.

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