|Under the Skin - R||'Under the Skin'. Singular, seductive, striking sci-fi. Wow to the score, cinematography and Johansson's all-consuming presence.||June 27, 2014||N/A|
|Enemy - R||
'Enemy'. An intriguing premise knocked out of the park by Villeneuve! Hypnotic, suspenseful, original. Shot and scored magnificently!
Two shots of glimmering eyes in darkness are absolute stand-outs. One of Gyllenhaal, another of a "woman" walking upside down. The silhouettes, and swooping, sepia-washed city all create an inquisitive, unnerving atmosphere that's backed up by a lovely score. Gyllenhaal is doing wonders by portraying two characters in the most nuanced of ways.
The overarching theme of dictatorships coupled with the spider motif (plus the web-like shattered glass and street cables) that's lead me to interpret this world as one that's essentially "run by spiders" (things you don't expect to be saying at the end of a review). Are those swooping shots of the skyline from the perspective of these creatures? I'm not sure what to make of a small spider being crushed in the beginning to ones that are towering over the city, half-spider, half-woman women and a complete, gigantic one that's taken the place of a pregnant woman when Adam makes the decision to go to the club, bringing things full circle.
The puzzlement is scattered throughout, like the mother seemingly knowing of both Anthony and Adam. The ripped photo in an old box of Adam's that you see a complete version of in Anthony's home. A co-worker recommending the particular movie that sets everything in motion. Is the heel used to crush the spider in the opening ritual the one that he examines in Anthony's cupboard? The fact that all this is burned into my mind after a night of heavy drinking can only mean this film has impacted me in a big way when things normally wash over instantly.
Paced very deliberately, this yarn is akin to being in a spider's web while being wholly oblivious to it. That ending invoked joy and a whole other level of befuddlement that has my mind working overtime to entangle.
|March 23, 2014||N/A|
|The Lunchbox - PG||'The Lunchbox'. A real charmer that's just the right amount of sweet and hardly hits a false note. If only more films like this came out of India.||March 23, 2014||N/A|
|7 Boxes - PG-13||7 Boxes'. A quite brilliant ending forgives the sloppy writing, acting and thematic hammering-in. The thrills and suspense work.||March 23, 2014||N/A|
|The Grand Budapest Hotel - R||
'The Grand Budapest Hotel'. Spent half the film awestruck, shaking my head in disbelief. A gorgeous, inventive, meticulously-crafted world by Anderson.
The humour never misses a beat, from Fiennes' unexpectedly great performance to the visual gags scattered throughout.
From typefaces to costumes, interiors, characters/cast and dialogue, Wes Anderson's unique world is fully realised. The camera movement, as always, remarkable. It's a magical place, and I daresay this is my favourite film of his.
There's no doubt this will require multiple viewings (ideally, frame-by-frame) to completely grasp all the visual flair on offer.
|March 15, 2014||N/A|
|The Wind Rises - PG-13||
'The Wind Rises'. I'm left feeling like I'm mourning something beautiful. The animation is uniquely magical, with its painted backgrounds, sense of motion and emotion. The sound design is to be noted. Miyazaki's words are pure poetry at times. The romance, up there with the best this year.
"Hikoki-Gumo", the song that plays over the end credits, couldn't be any more perfect, sealing the melancholy of the prior 20 minutes right in.
Minor pacing issues keep it from being flawless.
|February 23, 2014||N/A|
|Omar - Unrated||'Omar'. The stakes are high in this love story that balances tender and tense admirably. Ultimately, very Shakespearesque.||February 23, 2014||N/A|
|The Selfish Giant - Unrated||
'The Selfish Giant'. The sucker punch of that first beautiful frame to the relentless bleakness that follows is cruel. Miserable, masterful.
Outstanding, gritty performances from first-timers, and a director whose future I will follow eagerly, given the worlds she seems to want to delve into.
|February 17, 2014||N/A|
|Tim's Vermeer - PG-13||
'Tim's Vermeer'. One man's curiosity and capacity for obsession detailed in a painstakingly entertaining way. Who says art and technology are at opposite ends of the spectrum?
Seeing the months it took, I really what drove Vermeer, or what drove anyone of that era to create paintings like they did?
|February 17, 2014||N/A|
|Like Father, Like Son - Unrated||
'Like Father, Like Son'. The ramifications of an impossibly complex situation explored delicately. Many beautiful, heartbreaking moments.
The ensemble's acting as well as the way it's lit and shot deserve all the praise they can get too.
|February 15, 2014||N/A|
|Stranger by the Lake - Unrated||
'Stranger by the Lake'. Might have enjoyed it if the ratio of suspense to male genitalia was reversed.
I appreciated the stillness in the direction, the long takes, the cruising sub-culture, the action taking place in only one location, the repetition, the symbolism and juxtaposition of the detached, carnal acts with nature.
Was so much hardcore sex required to make a point? The high-point is that long take of the drowning. Everything before that piked curiosity. Afterwards, it lost me until that tense final scene.
|February 9, 2014||N/A|
|The LEGO Movie - PG||'The LEGO Movie'. Clever animation and world-building with laughs aplenty! A nice third act pushes it beyond a simple comedy. Can we get a Supes and Green Lantern spin-off please?||February 9, 2014||N/A|
|Labor Day - PG-13||'Labor Day'. After a preposterous first half, not helped by timeframe or dialogue, the second gets better as it goes. Winslet is great.||February 9, 2014||N/A|
|12 O'clock Boys - Unrated||
'12 O'Clock Boys'. Tragic as both a character study and broader social commentary on what people live for in their day-to-day struggles. Dangerous escapism as seen by outsiders looking for the temporary kind is darkly ironic.
Lotfy Nathan found someone special in Pug. Bright, ambitious, destined for doom. Nature nor nurture have been particularly good to him as a young boy, and it doesn't look like that cycle is stopping anytime soon for him and others in Baltimore. What's been eating away at me ever since I walked out of the theater is how much Nathan's decision to document Pug's quest drove him even further. Would he have done everything he did if a camera wasn't on him? The ending seemed particularly exploitative.
You see the pursuit of power, fame and notoriety, driven all the more by social media. The film ending where it does, I'm afraid of what effects this will have on the next generation of Baltimore's 12 O'Clock Boys.
|February 1, 2014||N/A|
|The Invisible Woman - R||'The Invisible Woman'. Quietly captivating on many levels, no more so than Felicity Jones' face. The closeups are Fiennes' best choice.||January 20, 2014||N/A|
|Lone Survivor - R||
'Lone Survivor'. Personal, intense, unrelenting direction by Peter Berg that blew past my modest expectations.
I thought the one, early false step was cutting to the beheading. There was no need for that scene whatsoever. Luckily, it recovered gracefully.
The foreboding is built into the title, marketing and intro, making the quiet moments between the team all the more emotional. I was pleasantly surprised of the turn it took, and the screen time given to the third side in this war that is rarely mentioned.
|January 20, 2014||N/A|
|August: Osage County - R||'August: Osage County'. I could watch this broken bunch forever! Streep and Roberts, expectedly awesome. Letts' words are melodramatic bliss.||January 18, 2014||N/A|
|The Square - Unrated||
'The Square'. There won't be a braver, more important film this year. A world I can't believe exists in the same one I'm in.
I feared for these filmmakers' lives. Documenting what they did in highly volatile situations took a lot of courage. I turned away several times when the confronting, harrowing violence that is reality for those in Egypt hit the screen.
A most tragic cost to an ongoing revolution. The subjects at the heart of this documentary are all heroes.
The power of the Internet in conveying these events across the world gives me solace that YouTube isn't all cat videos and covers of songs.
|January 18, 2014||N/A|
|A Touch of Sin - Unrated||'A Touch of Sin'. A cold, unnerving social critique across classes in China. The direction sets the tone damn well!||January 4, 2014||N/A|
|The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty - PG||'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'. Nothing but admiration for Stiller, despite the flawed script. Visually very creative, with beautiful backdrops aplenty. Whatever problems the script has, the romance angle works a treat, as does the sweet ending.||January 2, 2014||N/A|
|Closed Curtain - Unrated||'Closed Curtain'. A screenplay so darn good I'm still smiling ear to ear. Personal, existential genius by Panahi!||December 30, 2013||N/A|
|Borgman - R||'Borgman'. Absurd, surreal, dark, and most of all, hilarious! What it all means will be a bonus when I figure it out.||December 30, 2013||N/A|
|Prisoners - R||
'Prisoners'. A snaking screenplay that plays on fears and desperation in an agonisingly captivating way. Jackman and Gyllenhaal are great!
The cinematography stands out too, and of course, as the credits started rolling, Roger A. Deakins' name appears.
|December 30, 2013||N/A|
|Philomena - PG-13||'Philomena'. From a trailer of groan-inducing cliches to dialogue, acting and story that elevate it well beyond that.||December 30, 2013||N/A|
|The Wolf of Wall Street - R||
'The Wolf of Wall Street'. Pure entertainment! Scorsese revels in the excess of the eye-opening world of Wall Street; the American Dream dialled to 11. I never expected a Scorsese film to contain the best physical humour of the year. Boy was I wrong.
Leo's finest role to date, embodying a truly despicable person. Who knows how many of them are still out there today? And can McConaughey get an Oscar nom for the short amount of time he's on screen? He continues his scene-stealing streak.
|December 26, 2013||N/A|