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  • Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 01 Nov, 2014

    This is at or near the top of my 2014 favorites. Gyllenhaal and Russo are great. A warning about the easy path from consumer to witness to amateur to professional to accomplice. Joblessness, economic precarity makes that transition even easier. Business theories unmoored from real flesh and blood humanity are worthless. Though the context here is metro network news, it also works as an indictment of CNN (et al.) and international affairs. Promote violence to sell more violence. Think globally,…

  • Blue Ruin

    Blue Ruin 2013

    ★★★★★ Watched 01 Sep, 2014

    Holy. Crap. Watch this movie. There’s some kinship with "Shotgun Stories" here, swirling around revenge and vicious family rivalry. Just multiply the intensity by 3 or 4. A wee bit of "Fargo", too, what with the bumbling? Great acting, sound, editing, the whole package is legit. This will probably be very high in my 2014 rankings.

  • Once Upon a Time in the West

    Once Upon a Time in the West 1968

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 15 Jul, 2014

    Welp. It’s perfect. This was my second time seeing it all the way through, and I was very lucky to catch it on the big screen. Two things that stood out for me more this time around….

    One, the operatic heightening. Straight out of opera, each major character gets a leitmotif in the soundtrack, they’re all introduced in a different way to draw attention to their role, and they’re all pretty unambiguous archetypes: villain, hero, buffoon, hooker with heart of…

  • The Lego Movie

    The Lego Movie 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 21 Feb, 2014

    I had heard that this was better than you’d think, but it was still so wildly beyond my expectations. (Contender for my favorite animated movie? Dare I say it?) The story is pretty straightforward, but they build in a lot of good meta-movie/genre tropes and the sense of humor was right up my alley (both the wit and the dumb gags). And it’s gorgeous. The verrrrry very end doesn’t quite work for me, but geez. What a treat.

  • Mud

    Mud 2012

    ★★★★★ Watched 11 Nov, 2013

    Best summarized in this review I stumbled upon where I lifted the still above: “Mud reminds us that the most special effect is compelling characters caught in a vexing situation.” ( Check and check. I loved this movie. Jeff Nichols is on a roll right now, after directing Shotgun Stories, and then Take Shelter, and then this. I’m excited for whatever is next.

  • In a World...

    In a World... 2013

    ★★★★★ Watched 18 Sep, 2013

    Loved it. The power of voice! And such a great a set of characters. No one is perfect; no one is irredeemable. I couldn’t help but think of Frances Ha, but this one, like its protagonist, is far more polished. A really fine piece of work.

  • No Country for Old Men

    No Country for Old Men 2007

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 10 Aug, 2013

    Still one of the best I’ve ever seen. I love this movie.

  • Days of Heaven

    Days of Heaven 1978

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 04 May, 2013

    Third viewing. I don’t typically use words like “rapturous” or “transfixed”, but I feel like I need to here. I just sit there slack-jawed for 90 minutes. I don’t know how you can make a biblical, romantic prairie drama have such momentum. This is the first Terrence Malick movie I ever saw, and I still think it’s his best. I have to keep it in my top three, up there with Out of the Past and Heat.

  • Out of the Past

    Out of the Past 1947

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 31 Mar, 2013

    OUT OF THE PAST! Virginia Huston has a small role, lines-wise, but it’s our identification with her that’s the heart, the emotional pivot for the whole thing. Sigh. Why can’t we be better?

  • Holy Motors

    Holy Motors 2012

    ★★★★★ Watched 24 Jan, 2013

    Incredible. Amazing, amazing performance from Denis Lavant. There’s no traditional plot, but the structure involves Lavant’s character being driven around Paris in a limousine to a series of appointments, each one requiring a different costume, makeup, identity, and performance. The logic is bent and ambiguous. A couple hours of mad and weird invention, wholly invigorating.

  • Heat

    Heat 1995

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 12 Dec, 2012

    My third viewing. This is officially my second favorite movie after Out of the Past.

    It seems like (Pacino’s) Hanna has more fun than (De Niro’s) McCauley does. Maybe I’m projecting, and he’s just more fun to watch because he’s more exasperated and has the power to say whatever he wants. He definitely smiles more. His stakes are lower in a way. He’s got a day job, a sense of purpose, even if home life is a wreck. Note the…

  • Heat

    Heat 1995

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 24 Nov, 2012 3

    Pacino > De Niro.