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  • Josie and the Pussycats 2001

    ★★★★ Added

    Du jour means crash positions

  • Snowpiercer 2013

    ★★★★½ Watched 04 Jul, 2014 6

    This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.

  • Hyenas 1992

    ★★★½ Watched 02 Jul, 2014

    I shamefully, but perhaps unsurprisingly, have very little experience with African cinema so I can’t speak to a larger context. Explicitly anti-colonialist, using the cautionary fable to illustrate the slippery slope into superficial Western modernity. Colobaine is in an economic crisis, and all it takes is one person to come in with their vendetta, their goods, their temptations; but change comes with a blood price. The mayor says the village’s decision is not for the sake of money. He uses…

  • The Story of Qiu Ju 1992

    ★★½ Watched 01 Jul, 2014

    Qiu Ju’s (Gong Li) efforts to be heard are emphasized by sight and sound. Qiu Ju is not made special by the camera. She is not centered visually, always caught in long or medium shots. She also isn’t especially heard, her voice always threatening to be drowned out by those around her. She is compromised or diluted in her own ramshackle environment, and in the big city she is simply overwhelmed. The characters knock about different ideas of justice, none…

  • Enemy 2013

    ★★½ Watched 01 Jul, 2014

    Enemy had been one of my most anticipated films of 2014. I’d read José Saramago’s The Double, which became a favorite book despite its callous dismissal of women. Doppelgängers, bifurcated identities, dream logic, psychological angst, etc. This all screams ‘KATIE’. But I don’t know what to make of Enemy. Much of it feels somehow easy; artificially symbolic and existential. Like Denis Villeneuve looked at a stripped down template of psychological mind-fucks and never followed through with expansion. It has a…

  • Joe 2013

    ★½ Watched 30 Jun, 2014

    Probably, and so disappointingly, my least favorite film of 2014 thus far (granted, I’ve only seen 30) and the second worst I’ve seen from David Gordon Green (I’m a fan). It comes down to the critical difference between letting ‘regional authenticity’ materialize naturally, and using it as your sole playing card for the deluded support of yet another masculine-soaked redemption narrative. Joe is, quite frankly, a barrel of overkill. I felt like one of those damn trees the characters inject…

  • Belle 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 30 Jun, 2014

    Belle is much more than the following sentiment, but all the same; Amma Asante’s gratifying yet subversive period piece makes my heart go pitter-patter. Some may scoff at the love story (indeed a few reviews I’ve read knock it down a peg for just that) but what about how sweetly investing it is? The adorable abolitionist with unshakable moral footing (Sam Reid) is so steadfast that he amusingly dips into caricature at times. It becomes part of his charm, as…

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014

    ★★★ Watched 11 Jul, 2014

    Effects work *astonishing* accomplishment. Rote narrative but executed well. I cried a lot. Jason Clarke is the kind of actor we need headlining more blockbusters and the only reason he is allowed such a spotlight is because the studio knows the apes are the star, and the box office pull.

    If only Shock the Monkey had played instead of The Weight you'd be looking at a 5 star rating.

  • Passion Fish 1992

    ★★★½ Watched 30 Jun, 2014

    Literary and laid back in ways May-Alice (Mary McDonnell) and Chantelle (Alfre Woodard) can only strive towards. John Sayles (this is admittedly the first film I’ve seen of his) attains the restfulness and ease both seek. The characters catch up to the film. They are restricted to backwoods Louisiana for different but not dissimilar reasons. Rennie (David Straitharn) and Sugar LeDoux (Vondie Curtis-Hall) recur as potential male companions, but everyone else visits once and only once. People pass through while…

  • Vampire Academy 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 29 Jun, 2014

    Every so often you run into a film that you recognize as being a scattershot botch job, seemingly beyond repair, but you still like it, a lot, despite everything. Vampire Academy is one of those films. Now that suggests all the pieces are somehow lacking, which isn’t the case. There’s a lot that works about Vampire Academy, and despite its box-office flop status and universal pans, I believe the film will slowly but surely find some kind of audience.

    The…

  • We Own the Night 2007

    ★★★½ Watched 24 Jun, 2014

    It’s become clear to me at this point (with only Two Lovers left to watch), that James Gray gives Joaquin Phoenix grand character arcs that run record long distances in a short period of time. In The Yards he’s fun-loving and supportive, then cowardly and jealous to all kinds of too-far-gone mixed up. In The Immigrant he’s a charlatan to a possibly dangerous stray dog in love to sacrificial raw meat. And then there’s We Own the Night, which could…

  • Marlene 1984

    ★★ Watched 23 Jun, 2014

    Maximilian Schell makes a mistake trying to engage with Marlene Dietrich near end of her life, and knowing each other going back to Judgement at Nuremberg twenty years earlier doesn’t help smooth things over. In fact, nothing does. Schell works under very strict stipulations, the most obvious being her refusal to be seen on camera at age 83. So we hear her barbs with director, interviewer and friend as archival footage plays in the background, usually undermining in some way…