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  • Frozen

    Frozen 2013

    ★★ Watched 12 Jan, 2014 1

    Wasn't overly fussed over this, despite finding the snowman amusing (sometimes I'm easy to please) and really getting on with some of its sly subversions of expectation toward the end. But I'd rather the whole film challenged Disney's staid animated projects than the last 10 minutes, and I didn't find any of the songs to be memorable even while watching it, much less nearly a week later. In terms of Disney's last few projects, I'm still more enamored with TANGLED,…

  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 2013

    ★★★ Watched 23 Nov, 2013

    A marked improvement over the first, effectively replaying all of the elements that could have been done well the first time but with more refinement. The cast is excellent—though NO ONE could salvage some of these lines—and what we lost in Wes Bentley's beard we make up for in PSH's smarm, a double-dose of agreeable twitchiness from Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer, and Jena Malone being Jena Malone. There also seemed to be an actual world this time, as opposed…

  • Dallas Buyers Club

    Dallas Buyers Club 2013

    ½ Watched 25 Feb, 2014 34

    It's easy, if one only ever has to suffer a few times a year the no-budget, no-talent indies dumped on one-week NY runs and burned onto screener discs, to have a charmed view of what constitutes a bad film. Truth be told, with the number of films produced domestically exploding in recent years thanks to mass proliferation of acceptable-quality, cheap DV, it's a good bet that the vast majority of American movies made each year now consist of films made…

  • The Hunger Games

    The Hunger Games 2012

    ★★½ Watched 23 Mar, 2012

    I've not read the book, but the movie made me want to; it's full of fascinating ideas and the most clever extrapolation of human behavior I've seen come from a YA novel. Unfortunately, this half-directed mess is struggling for its PG-13 rating and has to cut around everything in a shaky cam frenzy. Every time I thought the film might truly stick a knife in the audience, it settled for jumbling them instead. A shame.

  • Goodfellas

    Goodfellas 1990

    ★★★★★ Watched 28 Dec, 2013 1

    I love returning to this film. As a teenager, I thought it was just the coolest movie ever, yet I'm reminded of Ebert's thoughts on returning to LA DOLCE VITA throughout his life: the movie never changes, but I do, and every time I revisit GOODFELLAS every few years, I see more and more cracks, its coolness a subjective veneer of the gangsters' self-perception that clashes with how increasingly banal they seem. Looking at it after seeing THE WOLF OF…

  • Prometheus

    Prometheus 2012

    ★½ Watched 13 Jun, 2012

    This film does absolutely nothing well and doesn't say anything that wasn't said with more power in a dozen other works of literary and cinematic art.

  • Batman Begins

    Batman Begins 2005

    ★★★★ Rewatched 15 Sep, 2012

    I underrated this as much as I overrated TDK and TDKR. Gotham is given actual character, the dialogue is (relatively) on-point instead of didactic, and Batman actually FEELS like Batman, using stealth and intelligence over the brute force approach of the sequels. The first act still drags, and a few narrative choices and lines land with thuds, but overall this is the clear highlight of Nolan's trilogy.

  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

    The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 2013

    ★★ Watched 14 Dec, 2013

    For all the touted 3D and HFR-smoothed movement, this film is at its best when it is showcasing static objects: the mangled shards of Dol Guldor, the impossibly huge room in Erebor that replicates and vastly expands the shot of interior sand dunes in STALKER, albeit with a floor made of mounds of gold. Don't get me wrong, everything is still overlit to hell to compensate for its double-gimmick format, but at least Middle-Earth no longer looks quite so much…

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014

    ★★½ Watched 08 Jul, 2014

    Truly jaw-dropping special effects backed up by direction that is never more than serviceable (though at least not as frenetic as its peers), and a plodding series of clichés that would be absolutely fine if they did not present themselves as Piercing Truths. This movie is the equivalent of the genre fan who never watches anything without an exploding squib but nonetheless feels sufficiently elite to lean in and whisper, "You know, the real danger in a zombie movie is…

  • Prisoners

    Prisoners 2013

    ★★ Watched 21 Sep, 2013 1

    A promising opening that moves quickly but patiently through the realization of children gone missing, allowing comprehension to dawn on parents without taking too long to get to the event, soon collapses as Villeneuve's arthouse-thriller aesthetic puts enough space in the shots that the distended, half-connected threads of the script have more room to fall apart. The film's greatest tension is in the total incompatibility of its forced stabs at social relevance (which at least aren't as clumsily on the…

  • Spring Breakers

    Spring Breakers 2012

    ★★★★½ Watched 23 Mar, 2013

    The lost toys of pop culture have fed Korine's other films—vaudeville, VHS, etc.—but SPRING BREAKERS is a film terrifyingly of the present. The stagnant small-town life has been replaced by a hip youth minister with gelled, bleached blond hair, a neck tattoo and an Ed Hardy shirt complete with bro-y crucifix. Soft shoe and death metal has become Skrillex. And the various obsessive trinkets given meaning by the have-nots is now simply the hunger for money and "shit." Yet this…

  • Zero Dark Thirty

    Zero Dark Thirty 2012

    ★★½ Watched 12 May, 2013 1

    I don't see how anyone walks away from this thinking it justifies torture, but there's still something off-putting about that final image, with all its "Was it worth it?" properties. It frames the waste and rot of the War on Terror as a measure of what we lost in terms of our true selves, as opposed to taking stock of the astonishing collateral damage we amassed just to kill one man. (A far more appropriate closing would've been the last…