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  • Plan 9 from Outer Space 1959

    Watched 10 Aug, 2014

    Useless to assign a rating to a film you watch specifically because of its reputation for being terrible, but behold! It's terrible! And weird, certainly, but not really in an engagingly bizarre, personality-imbued, TROLL-2 sort of way. Sometimes amusingly inept but mostly just tedious. Eh.

  • Oculus 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 08 Aug, 2014

    As has been ably pointed out elsewhere, OCULUS's booga-booga is more-or-less arbitrary -- its Evil Mirror has essentially omnipotent ability to do whatever it takes to drive its victims insane. The film seems almost indifferent to its supernatural conceit, which keeps it from greatness, but in the context of what's basically a tragic psychodrama, the details of what the Evil Mirror does and how it does it turn out not to matter all that much. Like Flanagan's terrific first feature,…

  • Coherence 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 08 Aug, 2014

    Gives a first impression of maybe being a little bit sketchy, but I think that's just my desire for a more hermetically-sealed, PRIMER-esque puzzle film, which this turns out not to be. What it is is a fiendishly clever little chamber drama that spins out into infinity before closing in on itself in a way that resonates emotionally as well as intellectually. Hugely entertaining, constructed out of chilling little details, unafraid of its plot's cosmic implications despite the low budget.

  • Bad Words 2013

    ★★ Watched 05 Aug, 2014

    Just isn't very funny. Bateman has surprisingly poor comic timing behind the camera, considering his genius in front of it, with scenes that might have been showstoppers (Kathryn Hahn and her FBI buddy, e.g.) shot and edited so languidly that they altogether fail to register. Also made me appreciate the construction and delivery of the hilariously creative profanity in IN THE LOOP and VEEP; BAD WORDS tries much the same thing but just being over-the-top mean doesn't do it --…

  • Sabotage 2014

    ★★½ Watched 02 Aug, 2014

    Awfully dumb (LOL at what the stolen money turns out to be intended to be used for -- *that* was the big plan?) but I kind of appreciate Ayer's brand of macho miserabilism. At least it's a concrete, specific vision, you know? Though I wonder how much of the neanderthal brosef bullshit that permeates every frame of this Ayer actually embraces. Points, I guess, for letting women be equal participants, never backing down an inch.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 02 Aug, 2014

    Faces many of the same problems that have plagued every Marvel Studios effort: everything having to do with the villain and his intergalactic macguffin is pretty much arbitrary, and the film has to work real hard to quickly shove all the pieces of the comic book mythology into place so that a story may commence. There is also (relatedly) a fundamental who-cares factor to the plot that's difficult to fully transcend, though GUARDIANS does a far better job than most…

  • Frank 2014

    ★½ Watched 28 Jul, 2014

    Making everyone mentally ill is the cheapest possible way to make a quirky comedy. I'm sure this'll draw some cinephiles curious about Fassbender's first stab at full-on comedy -- he's fine, for the record, though the only real laughs come courtesy of a running gag where his constantly-masked character decides to speak his facial expressions out loud -- but I assure you it's a waste of your time.

  • Neighbors 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 27 Jul, 2014

    Has a problem that seems for a while to be insurmountable: it really, really needs someone funny, rather than Zac Efron, in the Zac Efron role. The dude is a comic black hole, and surrounding him with genuinely, preternaturally funny people -- Seth Rogen, Dave Franco, Craig Roberts -- only makes it worse; parts of the film are like watching the Saturday Night Live cast gamely try to rescue a show when the host just. Isn't. Funny. THAT SAID, I…

  • 22 Jump Street 2014

    ★★★ Watched 19 Jul, 2014

    I wonder to what extent this movie is trying to have it both ways with the gay jokes: winking enough to seem like affirming post-gay-panic quasi-satire to sophisticates but making the subversion subtle enough for it to play exactly like what it's parodying for everyone else. Having had the dubious privilege of watching the film in Nigeria, I can tell you that the latter mission was accomplished, intentionally or not. Apart from that, the film is as shrewd as its…

  • In the Loop 2009

    ★★★★ Rewatched 18 Jul, 2014

    Still awesome, though three viewings plus untold amounts of the comic juggernaut VEEP in the meantime expose some issues, namely the startling loss of momentum in the final third and the desperately unfunny floundering of the Steve Coogan stuff. But, counterpoint: "You know what you sounded like? You sounded like a fucking Nazi Julie Andrews." Fuckity-bye!

  • Snowpiercer 2013

    ★★★★★ Watched 13 Jul, 2014

    Now here is something that lives up to the hype and then some. Felt the same jolt of discovery that went through teenage me watching THE MATRIX for the first time in 1999 -- SNOWPIERCER is just as visionary and relevant, if not quite so shrewdly calibrated for popular appeal. I feel obliged to note that it's not quite the straightforward class-struggle allegory that many seem to see, but rather a broader meditation on the way societies are organized, their…

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 12 Jul, 2014

    Perfectly good, even excellent, along with STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (which you should watch again if you got hung up on the plot -- just *look* at it) the finest example to date of truly comprehensive blending of live-action and CGI. Matt Reeves is patently a massive talent, able to stage exceptionally lucid huge-scale action, and parts of DAWN play like they were directed by a less showy Alfonso Cuaron. (See, e.g., the gun turret shot.) But I'm bewildered by…