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  • Gone Girl 2014

    ★★ Watched 11 Oct, 2014

    I get the sense that Fincher purposely resisted making this any sort of emphatic statement on marriage or relationships writ large, which is probably wise, but what he's left with here is a pretty unremarkable pulp revenge story -- and one that's structured in a way that's far better suited for the page than for the screen, with the plot's secrets revealed through arbitrarily timed flashbacks and an unreliable-narrator gimmick. I felt more jerked-about than surprised, and the film plods…

  • Casablanca 1942

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 11 Oct, 2014

    Spending some time as an expat in not-the-friendliest-of-places kind of gives one a new perspective on this. I'd totally come hang out at Rick's.

  • Godzilla 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 02 Oct, 2014

    Looks tremendous, and Edwards is very smart about what to show and what to withhold and when; this is often the film people wanted PACIFIC RIM to be. Shame about the narrative, which bifurcates the set-up and the main action and then strains to shoehorn characters from the former into the latter, where they don't really fit. People complained about thin characterization, but that's not the problem so much as the fact that Aaron Johnson (for example) should have exited…

  • Metro Manila 2013

    ★★ Watched 01 Oct, 2014

    Caught up with this because of my abiding admiration for Sean Ellis's THE BROKEN, which I truly think is one of the great unheralded horror flicks of the century. This follow-up is a terrific *city* movie -- Ellis shot on location and on a micro-budget and managed to give a fulsome, enveloping sense of Manila's menacing bustle -- but the screenplay is terribly thin, not even attempting to complicate its saintly, put-upon protagonist, and spinning its wheels for over an…

  • Night Moves 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 22 Sep, 2014

    Props to Reichardt for risking her arthouse cred on what amounts to a crackling procedural, and for then using the procedural form to make a trenchant point about the paradox of modern environmentalism: you're either bourgeois and ineffectual (farm-to-table, "sustainability," etc.), or you're radical and massively unappealing and possibly a terrorist, persisting in the vain belief that the world is on the verge of a come-to-Jesus moment, if people would just *see*. ("People will have to start thinking -- they'll…

  • The One I Love 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 14 Sep, 2014

    Expected the high concept here to basically degenerate into a wispy metaphor about loving people for their flaws as well as virtues, etc., so was surprised to find this getting plottier and weirder as it goes along, culminating in a byzantine locked-room escape. Doesn't amount to much thematically, but Elizabeth Moss is so nonchalantly wonderful, adding so much history and personality to an underwritten character, and the movie is so persistently offbeat, that I warmly commend it to you anyhow.

  • Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl 1919

    ★★½ Watched 10 Sep, 2014

    Do some masterpieces have an expiration date? In this reporter's opinion, almost certainly yes.

  • Jamie Marks Is Dead 2014

    ★★½ Watched 09 Sep, 2014

    Worth checking out for fans of melancholy, character-driven genre stuff, but while the subtext here is really touching, the text is so wispy it's barely there -- the conceit is the sort of abstract, unexplained supernatural thingamabob that can work on the page but not so much on the screen. From the director of THE RUINS, fwiw.

  • At the Devil's Door 2014

    ★★½ Watched 08 Sep, 2014

    Some fun stuff here -- I appreciate the straight-ahead momentum, largely shorn of context -- but it makes not a lick of sense. THE PACT had its issues too, but at least there was more to that particular story.

  • A Most Wanted Man 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 08 Sep, 2014

    Supplants BODY OF LIES as the smartest film re: American/western engagement in the middle east. Great slow-burn spy thriller but also startlingly trenchant, subtle, informed commentary on foreign affairs -- which I assume comes form the Le Carre novel, but translating it to the screen as gripping drama, which Andrew Bovell's screenplay somehow manages to do, is a hell of an achievement. (Bovell also wrote the rather underrated EDGE OF DARKNESS.) Only complaint is the Germans-speaking-English-with-German-accents issue that I always whine about.

  • Love Is Strange 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 05 Sep, 2014

    Oh man, this just wrecked me -- a modern-day MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW, unabashedly political (or maybe "socially-conscious" is a better if more weaselly phrase) but totally committed to its characters and their lives and stories -- the smart, searching, basically unsentimental cinematic articulation of the gay-rights canard that love must be valued wherever it is found.

  • Boyhood 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 04 Sep, 2014

    Need another viewing before I can weigh in on the instant-classic status many have already accorded it, but it's obviously a phenomenal achievement. Though I wonder if Linklater didn't actually manage to get at something kind of similar, coming-of-age-wise, with DAZED AND CONFUSED -- which takes place over 24 hours IIRC -- and isn't that even more impressive?