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  • Horns 2014

    ★★ Watched 07 Sep, 2013 1

    Intermittently entertaining piece consistently shoots itself in the foot by cutting to a 10-plus minute flashback every time momentum starts to build. Its supernatural elements muddy an otherwise straightforward piece about a bad man learning there are worse people out there. A few funny gags, but largely interminable.

  • I Origins 2014

    ★½ Watched 15 Jul, 2014 1

    Whether she has a writing credit on a film or not, Brit Marling's sheer presence seems to indicate a specific kind of film: one that frontloads a lot of scientific/political jargon, creates characters along rigidly separated polarities, then, like, shows that the truth is somewhere in between, man. Of all Marling's pretentious, tediously congratulatory intellectual indies, I, ORIGINS is certainly the most recent. In it, Michael Pitt plays a comically arrogant biochemist who introduces himself as "DOCtor Ian Grey," thankyouverymuch…

  • Sex Tape 2014

    ★★ Watched 16 Jul, 2014 1

    The big Rob Lowe scene is so much fun (and such a long chunk) that I have to bump it up somewhat, but this is such a prudish film, nominally interested in sex lives but really only dredging up the topic to mock it and to embarrass those who find a way to have fulfilling sexual relationships. This film is already obsolete, something it even acknowledges when a porn king played by Jack Black (the other highlight of the movie)…

  • Tammy 2014

    ★★★ Watched 30 Jun, 2014

    Weirdly plotted, but a movie almost entirely consisting of women who all have their own shit to deal with have appreciably positive impacts on each other. And in context of the film's subtle tweaks on the reductive image of McCarthy's physical comedy, that robbery scene from the trailer actually made me laugh a lot.

    Full review: spectrumculture.com/film/tammy/

  • 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…

  • Transformers: Age of Extinction 2014

    Watched 25 Jun, 2014

    I don't know why people are calling this a reboot. Calling it a reboot because it has new human characters is to play into this series' asinine insistence that it's really about the people. There's absolutely no denying, though, that subbing a wide-eyed, thoroughly juiced Mark Wahlberg in for arrogant dweeb Shia LaBoeuf is an upgrade, but flanked by a useless teen girl (who gets in a car with a transformer collapsed on top of it for safety and escape?)…

  • Jersey Boys 2014

    ★★ Watched 17 Jun, 2014 3

    There are snatches of this that are interesting and entertaining: the class consciousness of middle-class wunderkind Bob joining the working class hoods and promptly exerting creative control, Nick's tangential outburst about Tommy's hygienic habits when the band contends with their bandmates far more serious flaws. But GOD this is a lifeless film, trapped between Broadway comic relief (the scene of Frankie and Bob running down hallways of record label offices trying to follow-up on a demo is embarrassing) and Eastwood's…

  • Obvious Child 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 11 Jun, 2014 2

    You can tell that Robespierre is making her first feature, as OBVIOUS CHILD contains a few scenes and exchanges that may have been pruned by a more experienced filmmaker. A scene of the guy suddenly acting defensive about Donna going off with a male friend, despite him not knowing her at all and them not even dating, is out of character with his warmth elsewhere, which would be fine as a means of illustrating male possessiveness and entitlement if it…

  • Boyhood 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 19 Jun, 2014

    I admit I didn't care as much for BEFORE MIDNIGHT as most, not because it was a downer after its predecessors' uplifting romance but because it took vivacious, unorthodox characters and reduced them to staid middle-aged types: the housewife who gave up her career ambitions to raise kids while the husband is never home but acts like he contributes. It foregrounded realistic aspects of arguments (Celine bringing up having to clean Jesse's pee off of toilet rims; Jesse understandably pissed…

  • 22 Jump Street 2014

    ★★★ Watched 10 Jun, 2014

    Contains the highest number of flat jokes in a Lord/Miller movie to date, but there's still enough chemistry, visual wit and a few tongue-in-cheek dialogue exchange to make it enjoyable. I do think it effectively exonerates itself from having to try hard by just joking about how sequels suck, though.

  • Edge of Tomorrow 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 02 Jun, 2014

    Tom Cruise really does make entertaining action movies. It's a bit grim that the film plays his character's constant cycle of death and reversal for light comedy, with barely any nod to the psychological toll such a thing would take (PTSD apparently doesn't exist in the future). But Cruise's undimmed charisma does a lot to sell him as almost exasperated by having to constantly start over after dying horribly, and a combination of smart editing and an eye for subtle…

  • Maleficent 2014

    ★★ Watched 28 May, 2014 1

    More Jolie just strutting and pursing toward the camera, less...everything else. Also, already over this new Disney thing of making a bog standard fairy tale, then using the last 10 minutes to introduce a feminist twist. Just make an entire film that undermines the traditionalism you helped prop up! Don't make it a fucking spoiler.