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  • Rocky IV

    Rocky IV 1985

    Watched 26 Nov, 2015

    Not good but does feature my favorite of the training montages, perhaps through sheer 80s cheesiness (Hearts on Fire is pretty much my go tune workout song, after all).

  • Spotlight

    Spotlight 2015

    Watched 24 Nov, 2015

    A Very Good movie missing the one thing to make it great that Tom McCarthy usually provides in his other movies: A sense of humanity in its main characters.

    It is perhaps the film's strongest and weakest aspect. By simply focusing on journalistic process, it provides an unglamorous and convincing argument for the power of good reporting. McCarthy does this simply by emphasizing the power of community it what it can do by working together to fight injustice. Multiple sequences…

  • Rocky II

    Rocky II 1979

    Rewatched 23 Nov, 2015

    Emblematic of all things that can go right and wrong with a sequel. It never really captures what made the first great, but it's a decent follow up to the story when it's examining Rocky's post fight life, especially during the Rocky/Adrian scenes (the first, after all, was first and foremost a love story). But once the fight plot kicks in it becomes pretty standard fare. Thankfully, the actual fight is thrillingly well filmed, and it's still hard for me not to get a little teary eyed when that theme kicks in at the end.

  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

    The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 2015

    Watched 21 Nov, 2015 3

    I am 99% sure this is a film entirely financed, written, produced, and directed by a computer.

  • Fifty Shades of Grey

    Fifty Shades of Grey 2015

    Watched 18 Nov, 2015

    Not a good movie by any means but man am I fascinated by the push and pull between the desire of EL James to keep this faithful to her trashy erotic fanfiction, the desire of the Universal producers who wanted this to be the next big romance movie, and the desire of Sam Taylor-Johnson to do an in depth examination of human sexuality. 2/3 succeeded, and maybe if only one won it would have been a good movie, but this is a much more interesting version.

  • Elephant

    Elephant 1989

    Watched 18 Nov, 2015

    The 16mm tracking shots in this are pretty damn cool.

  • The Overnight

    The Overnight 2015

    Watched 17 Nov, 2015

    Feels far longer than its 80 minute runtime suggests. A cute idea filled with cute actors but this film is pretty emblematic of everything wrong with mumblecore movies, at least in the wrong hands.

  • Lost in Translation

    Lost in Translation 2003

    Rewatched 17 Nov, 2015

    Quite possibly the coziest film ever.

  • San Andreas

    San Andreas 2015

    Watched 14 Nov, 2015

    I'm a sucker for dumb disaster movies and this is definitely a deliciously dumb disaster movie. Far too narrow in scope to ever truly feel like it's thrilling, and the script here is offensively bad*, but Brad Peyton has a bit of fun zooming his CG camera through a bunch of mediocrely rendered destruction that it checks off just enough marks to be mildly watchable. It's not as insane as 2012 (which, after all, was directed by someone who is…

  • Room

    Room 2015

    Watched 12 Nov, 2015

    Completely shits itself in the second half as it loses any sense of story in order for some weak ruminations on how Larson and her son have now theoretically moved from one prison to another. This might work in a stronger film that had the guts to make the points it wants to make, but this version is so noncommittal that this entire back half is pretty much dead air.

    But oh man, Larson and Tremblay are so fucking good…

  • Bridge of Spies

    Bridge of Spies 2015

    Watched 13 Nov, 2015

    Such an overwhelming piece of minor Spielberg that I was almost willing to call it The Beard's worst since The Terminal (albeit, far more enjoyable than that). However, there's enough here keeping the whole enterprise afloat: Hanks' reliable Jimmy Stewart mimicry, Rylance with one of the most human Spielberg performances in years, a competent workmanlike screenplay from Charman and the Coens, and Spielberg's typically great sense of craft.

    I'm almost puzzled as to what brought Spielberg to this film, beyond…

  • The Wolfpack

    The Wolfpack 2015

    Watched 10 Nov, 2015

    The subjects here are utterly fascinating. Unfortunately, The Wolfpack is never more than casual observation, never really seeming to ask the important questions it should be asking, and it never really braves the darker aspects of the Angulo children's upbringing. This would have made for a pretty great short doc, but alas at feature length it just started to dull after 30 minutes.