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  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014

    ★★ Watched 13 Jul, 2014

    Really underwhelming. I was so fired up for this after re-watching Rise… and hearing good reviews. I think the best way to summarize this one is that there’s just not much to be curious about. Once you get the early outlines, you could finish the screenplay yourself. Bonus points, though, for good use of xylophone in the score. I also thought it was interesting that they only used a handful of locations for this movie: city, grove, dam, village, apartment.

  • Boyhood 2014

    ★★★ Watched 10 Aug, 2014

    Though the movie is pretty mesmerizing in a slice-of-life-y way, I think I’m more in awe of the work involved than the end product.

  • Edge of Tomorrow 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 17 Jun, 2014

    THIS. This is the kind of genre action film we need. Superheroes can suck it. The best Cruise performance in a good while, and his character has a great arc from coward to competence (always likeable, though). I love the film’s learning curve, too. Just enough to string you along, while not weighing you down with unnecessary repetition. For 2014 releases, I have to put this up there with The Lego Movie and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

  • Godzilla 2014

    ★★★ Watched 15 Jun, 2014

    This movie precisely met my expectations, which is kind of a treat in itself. I like how you end up rooting for the big guy. That said, I’m not sure I can describe how tired I am of seeing monsters roar at the screen. We’ve worn it out. The HALO jump scene is one of my favorites this year. Elizabeth Olsen is criminally under-featured. No good reason to waste all that talent, unless you’re also doing it with Watanabe, Binoche, Hawkins, Strathairn, Cranston… This movie is probably better overall, but Pacific Rim had better fightin’. I liked it.

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 05 Apr, 2014

    I had so much fun. Good action movies make you want to do the things you see on screen. Iron Man is fun to watch, but I don’t feel like I want to fly around and shoot beams out of my hands. But this? Yeah, I want to hold up a shield and run through locked doors. The First Avenger is still my favorite of the Marvel movies, but this is a nice elaboration and keeps the good drama/humor balance. Such a great character, becoming more suspicious, more wary of what he’s asked to do.

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 16 Mar, 2014

    I dig it. It’s got the usual fussy-awesome art direction and some technically interesting camera stuff, but what I really liked here: a good heart. Didn’t have much of the rooted dysfunction or cynicism or weariness that made some of his previous movies kind of a drag for me at times. I think I’ll call this my favorite of the Wes Anderson movies I’ve seen.

  • 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.

  • The Wolf of Wall Street 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 04 Jan, 2014

    If Scorsese has any one gift, it is making a scene longer than it needs to be, and somehow not ruining it. If he has a second gift, it’s all the filmic energy that he gets out of moving a camera. Repulsive behavior has rarely been so much fun. Much better than Wall Street. Spring Breakers is another good debauched horror story.

  • Her 2013

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 19 Jan, 2014

    I still like it!

  • Her 2013

    ★★★★½ Watched 11 Jan, 2014

    I expected to love it, I did, and I still was pleasantly surprised with some of the mordant humans-are-screwed humor and the science-fiction-y, speculative thoughtfulness. It’s pretty wonderful. Shout-out to movies that rely on conversation and subtle music. Also neat to see a movie set in the comfortable future - nothing crazy here, just a few plausible tweaks that have had some time to settle in. Some of the writing and face-acting didn’t work for me, but for ideas and smarts, I will forgive many things. Also, seeing Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams on screen together again made me want to re-watch The Master.

  • American Hustle 2013

    ★★½ Watched 28 Dec, 2013

    Disappointed with the ending, but that’s heist movies for ya. I should note that most of my disappointment was because most of the movie has such an enjoyable, playful ambiguity to it. You spend so much time on your toes, wondering what these folks are really up to, because there’s no real obvious villain or goal, and then it all wraps up too neatly for my taste. But Amy Adams is so good, the sets and stuff are a trip, and there’s some fun visual gags in there. I’d also recommend David O. Russell’s Three Kings, which has a lot of the same energy and restlessness.

  • Frozen 2013

    ★★★ Watched 05 Apr, 2014

    Sorry not sorry: that famous song isn’t very good – and especially not in comparison to "In Summer". Good movie overall, though. The state of animation today just blows my mind.