The Official Review Thread of 2013

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby dws1982 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 6:41 pm

Something in the Air
Putting it here based on US release date. This was apparently a companion of sorts to Assayas' early film Cold Water, which I haven't seen (although I have a copy that's been sitting here for at least a year), although the theme of 60's radicalism definitely has connections to Carlos. This is a good movie, and if it's not on the level of Carlos or Summer Hours, well, not many films are. Assayas suggests that these radical movements fell apart because it was little more than a passing fad for most of the kids--something they see as a chance for a year or two of excitement before settling into a more conventional existence. Anyone who knows me knows that, politically speaking, I don't have much at all in common with the characters here, but there's definitely a sadness here as the characters gradually settle into a compromised life, going from (at least nominally) participating in something to just reading books about it on the train to work. Assayas' images are as great as always; there's one sequence in particular follows a character as she wanders through a house party and upstairs looking for someone that'll stay with me for awhile.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:17 am

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sam Shepard, Misty Upham.
Dir: John Wells.

I just saw (and actually loved) the play so I know the material. The cinematic translation is not bad....only it could have been great but it isn't. The material is quite strong and the cast is mostly great (though I think Benedict Cumberbatch might have been a bit miscast since I don't completely buy him as Little Charlie) so it's watchable. Although I can't help but be a bit disappointed because it could have been really great since I can see the potential. Tracy Letts did manage to "open up" the play but I think in the hands of a better director, the material would have flown. Oh, crap. Robert Altman would have been fantastic. Oh, well. It's not essential viewing but it could have been a lot worse.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby Sonic Youth » Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:10 am

anonymous1980 wrote:THE WORLD'S END
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan, David Bradley.
Dir: Edgar Wright.

The third and last (?) film in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's Cornetto Ice Cream trilogy. A very funny film about a group of childhood friends who reunite to do a "pub crawl" in their old hometown only to find the townspeople replaced by alien/robot copies a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Once again, like with the other two films, the film is a really clever homage to classic genre pictures as well as being a really funny, really fun and absolutely delightful film on its own. However, this film cuts a bit more deeply because it also manages to be a bit more poignant than the other two. I think I still regard Shaun of the Dead just a wee bit higher but Edgar Wright still continues his perfect batting average. Loved it.

Grade: A-


Now that you reminded me about World's End..... I was just struck by how similar this film is to Wolf of Wall Street. Similar in pace, tone and feel, similar in its anarchic rambunctiousness, similar in that both are straight, male fantasies. World's End may not be significant in the grand scheme of things, but I really enjoyed it.
"What the hell?"
Win Butler

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:20 am

12 YEARS A SLAVE
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Scoot McNairy, Adepero Oduye, Garrett Dillahunt, Michael K. Williams, Alfre Woodard.
Dir: Steve McQueen.

Finally! I've seen all 9 Best Picture nominees. Did this deserve the big prize among them? It's a VERY close race. 2013 has been such a strong year that even the Academy could not make an embarrassing choice. After challenging and difficult films like Hunger and Shame, director Steve McQueen tackles yet another challenging and difficult subject matter: American slavery. A free black man is kidnapped and sold as a slave where he spent 12 years of his life. It features absolutely shattering and beautiful performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o as well as Michael Fassbender and Sarah Paulson (who's VERY underrated, IMO) as their masters. Among McQueen's three films, this is probably his most "accessible" but it's no less a harrowing piece of work as the other two.

Grade: A.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:46 am

THE WORLD'S END
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan, David Bradley.
Dir: Edgar Wright.

The third and last (?) film in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's Cornetto Ice Cream trilogy. A very funny film about a group of childhood friends who reunite to do a "pub crawl" in their old hometown only to find the townspeople replaced by alien/robot copies a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Once again, like with the other two films, the film is a really clever homage to classic genre pictures as well as being a really funny, really fun and absolutely delightful film on its own. However, this film cuts a bit more deeply because it also manages to be a bit more poignant than the other two. I think I still regard Shaun of the Dead just a wee bit higher but Edgar Wright still continues his perfect batting average. Loved it.

Grade: A-

TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM
Cast: N/A.
Dir: Morgan Neville.

This is one of the Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Feature this year and it's all about background singers, the unsung heroes of the music industry. It focuses on a few including Darlene Love and Judith Hill. It's a puff piece. I don't mean that as a slight but my problem with this film is not that it is a puff piece about background singers but that it doesn't really cut deeper than expected or share new insights that I was half-way expecting a film like this would have. The filmmaking is also competent and doesn't really do anything new. It is enjoyable. It features some great singing. You'll have some newfound respect for these people, especially if you're a music fan, but overall, it's not something that I would vote for as "Best".

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:53 am

SAVING MR. BANKS
Cast: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Annie Rose Buckley, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman, B.J. Novak, Ruth Wilson, Rachel Griffiths, Kathy Baker.
Dir: John Lee Hancock.

I have to say that Mary Poppins is one of my childhood favorites and still one of my current favorite films of all time. It's an endlessly watchable classic (though I have to admit, I've never read any of the books). This film, I feel, is like two films at once both very good in their own way but doesn't always work when put together. The back and forth between seriocomic behind-the-scenes cat and mouse game between P.L. Travers and Walt Disney and the lengthy flashback scenes focusing on Travers' alcoholic father is often jarring. But the performances all hold it together. Emma Thompson is wonderful as the fiercely protective creator of Mary Poppins. Unlike Mary Poppins, this didn't make me stand up and cheer but it's still a fine piece of work nevertheless.

Grade: B.

HER
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pratt, Matt Letscher, Portia Doubleday.
Dir: Spike Jonze.

I think that as time goes by my feelings for this film will be constantly changing and evolving either for the better or for the worse. This is a film that has a lot of elements that I admire greatly: The gorgeous production design, the beautiful cinematography, the fantastic score (courtesy of Arcade Fire, one of my favorite current bands) and of course Joaquin Phoenix's great performance and he's matched by a wonderful vocal-only performance by Scarlett Johansson. As of this writing, I'm still processing it and digesting it. I guess that's a plus in what could have easily have been just gimmicky, quirky plot of a man falling in love with his female-voiced operating system. I couldn't quite call it masterpiece yet. This is a film that I will probably rewatch someday.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:58 am

THE BOOK THIEF
Cast: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch.
Dir: Brian Percival.

In the immortal words of Kate Winslet in Extras, "How many more movies about the Holocaust do we need? It was grim, we get it!" Well, I don't mean to knock this film too badly. It's far from a bad film. It's just merely a bit generic. So many great films about the same subject have been done and their notes have been reprised here. It's almost a mish-mash of everything. That said, it's a well-made film with very nice performances (Sophie Nelisse is a talent to watch out for). The film is heartfelt but a little bit TOO bleak for what is supposed a kids' film.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:01 am

NEBRASKA
Cast: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Stacey Keach, Bob Odenkirk, Mary Louise Wilson.
Dir: Alexander Payne.

I personally don't think Alexander Payne has made a TRULY great film since Election. He's made very good films, just not QUITE great. This continues his streak. But it's still a very, very good film. This is thanks to a trio of great performances. Bruce Dern is of course terrific as the elderly man who wants to go to Nebraska to claim the million dollars he believes he's won from a magazine. Will Forte shows that he's more than just "MacGruber" giving us a taste of what he's capable. But for me, it's June Squibb who steals the show. She just livens up the film every time she shows up. I have to say that the film toes a fine line between celebrating the idiosyncracies of American Midwestern people and just making fun of them. That said, there's still plenty to admire about in this film.

Grade: B+

PHILOMENA
Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Mare Winningham, Michelle Fairley, Anne Maxwell Smith, Barbara Jefford, Sophie Kennedy Clark.
Dir: Stephen Frears.

This film was a very pleasant surprise. I didn't think I would like it as much as I did. It's middlebrow Oscar-bait. The type the Weinstein Company finances to win Oscars. I'm pretty much wary of it. I tend to see it with a very critical eye. But it eventually won me over due to Judi Dench's wonderful performance and a surprisingly funny yet honest screenplay. Contrary to what some people may say, as a Catholic, I didn't think it was anti-Catholic. Judi Dench's Philomena is a devout Catholic who is full of love and very endearing. It is a wonderful little film. I actually knew the outcome but that didn't stop me from getting misty-eyed.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 10:17 am

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Steve Zahn, Denis O'Hare, Dallas Roberts, Griffin Dunne.
Dir: Jean Marc Vallee.

Matthew McConaughey does indeed give a spectacular performance as Ron Woodroof, a man who finds out he's dying of AIDS and decides to form a "buyer's club" for potentially life-saving drugs not approved by the FDA. He is backed by an excellent supporting cast including Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner. The film itself is no masterpiece but just a solid AIDS drama. I actually looked up the real story after watching this and I found out that the real Ron Woodroof wasn't really the homophobe and was actually bisexual. But as a writer, I understood the change since it made the film more interesting and compelling with that arc. The alleged inaccuracy doesn't change the fact that McConaughey's committed performance is really something to see.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:13 am

ALL IS LOST
Cast: Robert Redford.
Dir: J.C. Chandor.

The film is deceptively simple: A man is in a yacht which collided with a fallen metal cargo hold, punching a hole and destroying his communication and engine and so begins his struggle to survive. We don't know why he's out there. We don't even know his name. Only that he wants to survive. With barely any spoken dialogue and pretty much focused on only one character, the film still is tremendously gripping. You care about this man despite not knowing much about him. This is thanks to Robert Redford's terrific performance. I personally would have nominated him but I can understand why he fell short. It's a rather subtle performance with hardly any showiness and barely even speaking so it SEEMS like he's not doing anything special. But a less than competent actor wouldn't make me give a shit about him.

Grade: A-

AMERICAN HUSTLE
Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis CK, Robert De Niro, Jack Huston, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Pena, Shea Wigham, Elisabeth Rohm.
Dir: David O. Russell.

I'm normally a fan of David O. Russell's work but I think last year's Silver Linings Playbook wasn't up to his standards, at least in my opinion. I was cautiously optimistic about this and I think the David O. Russell I love is back. This is an extremely well-acted and not to mention FUN caper film loosely based on an incident that happened back in the late '70s. It's funny, it's exciting and thankfully, I avoided spoilers so it was also unpredictable. I kept on guessing who's playing who. Jennifer Lawrence steals the film but I still think she's just a tad too young for the part and personally, I would have nominated Jeremy Renner ahead of Bradley Cooper but that's just me. Overall, this is the David O. Russell I love.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:39 am

YOU'RE NEXT
Cast: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, A.J. Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Barbara Crampton, Rob Moran, Ti West, Margaret Laney, Amy Seimeitz.
Dir: Adam Wingard.

A family reunion goes terribly wrong as unknown assailants kill them one by one. The film starts out as your run-of-the-mill slasher film but the twist here makes it a better-than-your average horror film. Just like Scream this one has lots of in-jokes for horror fans but this time around, they are heavily referencing and influenced by Italian horror, or giallo movies by Dario Argento and Mario Bava. It didn't exactly blow me away but it does have some really good scares and good kills. It's a pretty fun horror film.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:41 am

THE SQUARE
Cast: N/A
Dir: Jehane Noujaim.

This is a fascinating documentary about Egyptian uprising AFTER Mubarak stepped down through the eyes of a handful of freedom activists including British-born Egyptian actor, Khalid Abdallah and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a film I feel whose story is not yet finished since as of this writing, the struggle for true democracy and freedom in Egypt continues. This documentary allows us an insider glimpse into the struggle of freedom and democracy while never shying away from showing all the grey areas and the shocking violence. I don't think feel like I'm already expert in the issues surrounding Egypt but the film does give you a lot to chew on. Overall, an excellent piece.

Oscar Prospects: I think this may give The Act of Killing a run for its money.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Feb 01, 2014 10:01 am

THE HUNT
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelstrom, Susse Wold, Anne Louise Hassing, Lars Ranthe, Alexandra Rapaport.
Dir: Thomas Vinterberg.

A pre-school teacher's life is turned upside down when he is falsely accused of molesting a little girl in his care. This very serious subject matter has been filmed a lot of times, often in embarrassing, preachy histrionics through the lens of made-for-TV movies. This one is far from it. Thanks largely to Mads Mikkelsen's superb performance. He is also supported by a strong cast. Special mention has to be made to Annika Wedderkopp who plays his "victim" and Lasse Fogelstrom who plays his son. It's no masterpiece but it's still a strong, solid drama.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby Bog » Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:10 am

ITALIANO wrote: I don't know, at your age I didn't think that what I couldn't understand was necessarily worse than what I could easily understand. But maybe it was my generation.


This.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby ITALIANO » Tue Jan 28, 2014 4:33 am

ksrymy wrote:
I'm simply noting that the people who disapprove of it are those who are also big fans of The Great Beauty.


Ah but this is due to the Oscars, and to the fact that they are nominated in the same category, both with strong chances of winning. Before you were even born - well, almost - there were fights on this board that you can't even imagine..!

Yet, it's also true that The Hunt and The Great Beauty belong to two different "ideas" of cinema. And of course not because one is Scandinavian and the other is Latin - though The Hunt is a very Scandinavian movie and The Great Beauty is a very Latin movie. It's a deeper thing. You are free, of course, to feel closer to movies like The Hunt (and it isn't a bad movie, by the way) - but especially at 22... I don't know, at your age I didn't think that what I couldn't understand was necessarily worse than what I could easily understand. But maybe it was my generation.


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