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  • Steve Jobs

    Steve Jobs 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 06 Feb, 2016

    Aaron Sorkin is a very intelligent writer...and he does a very smart thing. He assumes off the bat that we don't actually give a shit about Steve Jobs. He was a rich guy, he ran a company, his company put out a very popular line of products and then he died. There are countless books, documentaries, and a cradle-to-grave biopic with the idiot from That 70s Show who plays pranks on MTV.

    We didn't need this movie.

    But Aaron Sorkin…

  • Brooklyn

    Brooklyn 2015

    ★★★ Watched 05 Feb, 2016

    A well-mounted period piece, directed by an Irish theater director, adapted by Nick Hornby, from a romantic novel, and starring Saoirse Ronan. As a naive Irish girl who leaves her quaint small town for New York of the fifties and, in the process, finds love - and grows up.

    So it is exactly what you probably expect it to be is what I'm saying.

    There is talent both in front of and behind the camera, to be sure. It's a…

  • Bridge of Spies

    Bridge of Spies 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 04 Feb, 2016

    An unexpected collaboration between Spielberg and the Coen brothers results in a rather interesting mix. With them writing and him directing, you get a nice balance between his patented sentiment and their sharp cynicism. It's a unique blend of cinematic flavors that works very well

    This is an interesting story that really happened, and it could have been a stuffy history lesson. But the film's approach is more engaging...it decides to frame a standard political negotiation within the parameters of…

  • Spotlight

    Spotlight 2015

    ★★★★★ Watched 02 Feb, 2016 3

    Tom McCarthy started his career as an actor... And it could be argued that his most important credit as an actor - to date - came when he played unscrupulous Baltimore Sun reporter Scott Templeton in season 5 of The Wire.

    He was paying attention. Because, as director, he lends this film the same sort of no nonsense authenticity that series was famous for.

    It might also account for the film's general cinematic flatness.

    But here's the thing... It doesn't…

  • Straight Outta Compton

    Straight Outta Compton 2015

    ★★★ Watched 02 Feb, 2016

    And so we have a non-revolutionary movie about a musical revolution.

    What I mean by that is this is a movie that basically plays it safe, putting a coat of grit over the standard Hollywood biopic gloss...resulting in a film that lacks urgency, but is nonetheless probably going to be a generational staple for a lot of people.

    And I think that's a great thing. So I'm going to give this movie points just for existing.

    Because, let's face it,…

  • The Big Short

    The Big Short 2015

    ★★★ Watched 01 Feb, 2016

    This film is educational... And you get the sense it's a film Adam McKay had to make. It's the closing credits of The Other Guys stretched out to feature length - basically.

    Now, in essence, this movie could have been impenetrable. But the filmmakers know this, which is why - whenever it becomes a little hard to follow - which is often unless you majored in Economics, they'll have Anthony Bourdain or somebody show up to break the fourth wall…

  • Room

    Room 2015

    ★★★★★ Watched 31 Jan, 2016

    A young woman and her son are held captive in a dingy shed... And that shed becomes their whole world. Then the kid turns five. And something happens...

    And to reveal more would not spoil the "surprise," as this is not a thriller or some kind of genre piece predicated on fancy twists and reveals. But it is still one of those movies that sneaks up on you and reveals itself in layers. So it's best to go in cold…

  • Freeheld

    Freeheld 2015

    ★★ Watched 30 Jan, 2016

    This is standard movie of the week material given standard movie of the week treatment: Dying police officer fights for equality so that her partner can receive her pension. Tonight on NBC!

    I suppose, on some level, I could recommend it. If you're a fan of either of the two leading ladies then this becomes worthwhile...because both Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are two great actresses giving two very good, convincing, truthful performances.

    That could be enough to recommend the…

  • Trumbo

    Trumbo 2015

    ★★★ Watched 30 Jan, 2016

    There are probably better, more probing movies about the Hollywood blacklist. Just as there are works that comment on it indirectly to great effect.

    But this works very well as a personal story about an extremely central figure within that blacklist. It works very well primarily because Bryan Cranston is a terrific fucking actor and it is fascinating to watch him on screen.

    Meanwhile, director Jay Roach brings the same sort of level of stately authenticity and workman professionalism he…

  • Presumed Innocent

    Presumed Innocent 1990

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 22 Jan, 2016

    An extremely classy potboiler, in which Alan Pakula uses great elegance to transform Scott Turow's best seller into an absorbing film of a very high quality. Elevating what is probably a standard beach read to the level of superior cinematic achievement. Like The Exorcist or The Godfather...

    Comparing it to those 70s classics is appropriate. The cinematography by Gordon Willis is wonderfully moody and gives things an interesting texture. Meanwhile, the adaptation (by Pakula and Frank Pierson) no doubt keeps…

  • Nine to Five

    Nine to Five 1980

    ★★★ Watched 21 Jan, 2016

    I think one could argue this film set the template for the demographic-specific high concept comedies that were to follow... Team up three interesting stars in a comedy aimed at a specific group of people, come up with an audience-friendly, crowd-pleasing concept and watch the money come pouring in.

    It worked then, and it works now.

    The PG rating means this is not going to be quite as risqué as something like Bridesmaids, obviously, but I'll argue it's in the…

  • On Golden Pond

    On Golden Pond 1981

    ★★★ Watched 20 Jan, 2016

    This movie is perfectly agreeable... From the start: The pleasant Muzak composed by Dave Grusin invites you to lay back and relax. As you enjoy the picturesque vistas of the lakeside locale referenced in the title...as the setting sun reflects on the still waters.

    It's lovely. It's very pleasant. And so, yes, this is a very pleasant film.

    It's also boring.

    But I'm not going to hold that against it. There's nothing inherently wrong with watching Katharine Hepburn and Henry…