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  • 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…

  • The Great Gatsby 2013

    ★★ Watched 07 Dec, 2013

    Leonardo DiCaprio is actually really great in this and helped bring out Gatsby better than my high-school reading of the book did. My favorite scene of the film is the one of his and Daisy's brutally awkward reunion, in which Gatsby's veneer of cool and control utterly collapses in nervousness worthy of a teenager who realizes that, after pulling every string he can to get in contact with the woman on whom he has a crush, he has absolutely no…

  • 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…

  • X-Men: Days of Future Past 2014

    ★★ Watched 20 May, 2014

    Why is this even a time travel movie? It does so astoundingly little with its own premise that the future stuff exists only for a sub-operatic mass-killing of heroes, only some of whom are familiar, that lacks the bite of the comics' depiction of same because now superhero death is old hat. It's one good setpiece involves a character who subsequently disappears from the movie; he doesn't die, he just goes home to watch TV, as if the writers realized…

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2014

    ★★★ Watched 27 Mar, 2014 1

    I really shouldn't like this movie. It's overlong, over-serious (despite those moments of air-dropped Whedon punch-up that are starting to feel perfunctory instead of charming), and it continues Marvel's trend of having the dullest villains in blockbusters, Loki excluded. But I still can't get enough of Chris Evans' Cap, who manages to pull off the aw-shucks, Greatest Generation throwback but square that tone with the disgust he feels at modern politics and warfare. His hero name also gives away his…

  • Thor: The Dark World 2013

    ★★ Watched 29 Nov, 2013 2

    The climax, despite its modest aesheticization, is the most ambitious thing Marvel have yet tried to pull. It's a shame that, for all the desperate attempts for comic relief, the sheer absurdity of its Duck Amuck climax is taken so bloody seriously. And you have to love the notion that even Marvel's writers are so sick of the stingers that a major character dies and is obviously reborn within a matter of a few cuts.

  • Stoker 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 08 Aug, 2013

    Even Hitchcock might have balked at the on-the-nose suggestions of this film's visual symbolism, but Park's English-language debut succeeds largely because of how little spoken language there is. The worst actor, Goode, gets the bulk of the lines, leaving Kidman's still-frozen but sufficiently limbered up face and Wasikowska's bring-it grimace to say all they need to say with only a handful of words per line. Park knows how to shoot their faces, stiff with willpower or injections, and how to…

  • Elysium 2013

    Watched 04 Jan, 2014

    In the future, the wealthy will be so rich they can trick out their voices with custom accents.

  • Godzilla 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 12 May, 2014 1

    In an otherwise embarrassingly gung-ho review of the film in Little White Lies, a shout-out to painter John Martin provides a good prism through which to view GODZILLA. Yes, the first act's a drag, and the film flirts with some kind of political statement before swiftly falling back on the more straightforward "Let them fight" tone of the original sequels, not the '54 film. Having to spend any time with Aaron Taylor-Johnson will never not feel like punishment.

    But when…

  • 21 Jump Street 2012

    ★★★★ Watched 18 Mar, 2012

    Man, just, well done, everyone. Ably parodies and affectionately salutes tropes both classic and modern. I need to see it again just to hear all the lines I laughed over.

  • Cloud Atlas 2012

    ★½ Watched 09 Dec, 2012

    Six films, all of them bad. The Wachowskis and Tykwer use the splits in Mitchell's book to make overlapping genre films, but the style is too constant across each chapter to make the movie half as ambitious as others claim. This leaves a caper without laughs, a corporate espionage thriller without suspense, a sci-fi social commentary without teeth, etc., and the overall thesis of the suffering and kindness echoed across centuries without any emotional or intellectual heft. The dispassion of…

  • Before Midnight 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 23 Jun, 2013

    Before Sunrise and Sunset generate such anticipation as to whether this couple will ever truly get together that one forgets to consider what might happen if they do. Before Midnight answers that question, and it's not often easy to look at. All the traits that were endearing for uniting strangers are not so great at keeping people together. Jesse's laid-back humor can be disarming but also, and especially in light of getting it for a solid decade, insufferably deflective and…