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  • Dear White People

    Dear White People 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 19 Oct, 2014

    Not what I expected, and in a good way. I was thinking it would be more of a gimmick comedy that would burn out. Lots of good stuff about identity and affiliation. But… it’s also insanely likeable. Like you’ve been watching some really charming people spit some talking points you already agree with. Part of me wonders if I should leave the theater feeling more uncomfortable than I did. The funny is never uncomfortably accusing, the drama feels like it…

  • Whiplash

    Whiplash 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 18 Jan, 2015

    Fixation and obsession. Somewhat promotes the myth of the tortured artist who must be pushed to self- and other-destructive extremes. If you’ve ever felt that sinking feeling when you become the focus of attention in band class, you can relate to this movie. Good momentum through most of it – take some of that Birdman-esque groove with more big band pop and sizzle. Love the way they did the cuts and shifts. Kind of criminal that they ignored half of…

  • Gone Girl

    Gone Girl 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 05 Oct, 2014

    I loved this one. Pike and Affleck work as both archetypes and just really odd layered characters. Highly disturbing, and like Zodiac, has this seductive quality where you don’t care how long it takes to unfold. I saw it when I was ~80-85% finished with the book – I didn’t want to wait another day. There’s a good chance I’ll catch it in the theaters again. The soundtrack is great, too.

  • The Skeleton Twins

    The Skeleton Twins 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 30 Sep, 2014

    Good fun. Luke Wilson steals the show. Some whiplash changes in tone, but they tried to pack in a good bit. A real, live 90-minute movie!

  • The Equalizer

    The Equalizer 2014

    ★★★ Watched 28 Sep, 2014

    Average, with a few bright points here and there. I love the diner scenes. They build Denzel’s character as the precise, exacting, confident type, but I like the hints of compulsive behavior beyond that. Not just the careful folding of the kitchen towel, or the tea ritual, or the perfectly crisp button-ups, tucked in. There’s the opening and closing the door, flicking the lights on and off, maybe even the car window opening and closing, rearranging the skulls. Nice little…

  • The One I Love

    The One I Love 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 31 Dec, 2014

    Highly recommended, a lot of fun. I wish this one had made a bigger splash. A couple on the rocks goes on a retreat to focus on their relationship. Hijinks ensue. Moss and Duplass are awesome.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy

    Guardians of the Galaxy 2014

    ★★★ Watched 17 Aug, 2014

    It’s good. Nice to see superhero movies trying to be a bit more lighthearted and funny. Too bad the villains and the climax are so lame. I’d still put the Captain America movies at the top of my Marvel rankings, but this is close behind.

  • Lucy

    Lucy 2014

    ★★★ Watched 08 Feb, 2015

    Movie trailers can be deceiving. In this case, they sold it as a pretty yawner-looking action movie, but the story is delivered with more spirit and weirdness than you’d expect. There’s this really wonderful ongoing pattern of spliced-in nature footage as counterpoint to the story. A few moments are delightfully heightened (e.g. opening the briefcase), or thoughtfully disorienting (not translating other languages). Most of that is early on, though, and it unfortunately falls back on serviceable scifi/action pastiche, including plenty…

  • A Most Wanted Man

    A Most Wanted Man 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 24 Aug, 2014

    No one I saw it with agreed with me, but I thought it was really good. Has a similar feel to "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy": cold, deliberate. This isn’t the sexy/sneaky side of spying. This is conversation, paperwork, negotiation, management. Every now and then you get to use a hidden camera. The only other Anton Corbijn film I’ve seen is "The American", and it’s great.

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    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

    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

    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.