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  • 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.

  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 2013

    ★★ Watched 31 May, 2014

    I like the world they created, but felt like this one kind of ran out of steam. I take it as a good sign, though, that the games were the least interesting part.

  • 12 Years a Slave 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 23 Nov, 2013

    Not sure how to talk about this one. Hard to watch. At times it is very, very on-the-nose. If you’ve seen Steve McQueen's Shame and Hunger, this will be no surprise. But it’s strange that it doesn’t feel… dramatic. It is focused. It is facts. It also makes you feel some of the same unease (the score is a huge contributor here). The movie is all in the protagonist’s perspective, which unfortunately means everyone else can seem a little flat…

  • Captain Phillips 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 20 Oct, 2013

    I really dug it. Hanks is great, so is Abdi. And what makes this worthwhile is that both of them get fair treatment in how the story is structured (despite the one-sided title). Pretty strong similarities to Zero Dark Thirty in tone and tension, and how they’re not quite really about the obvious thematic baggage they might have easily tended toward. The scale of the stuff - real gigantic boats and aircraft - made me think of 80s/90s action movies. Very refreshing. Also, having captain on the bridge talking to engineering down with the engines reminded me of Star Trek. Great stuff.

  • Enough Said 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 18 Nov, 2013

    Sometimes we are our own worst enemy, as they say. Louis-Dreyfus is a genius. Gandolfini is instantly lovable. Keener plays a perfect flaky narcissist. Such a good heart to this movie.

  • Gravity 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 04 Oct, 2013

    It’s definitely worth seeing. Very stressful in an entertaining way. Gotta respect a movie with moments where just grabbing a rail feels like the most important thing in the universe. It’s a steady sequence of disasters and new problems. The special effects are just tremendous. I love the way Cuarón plays with the sound, changing with the environment or how the camera or the viewpoint would experience it. The score is omnipresent, for better or worse, depending on how you…

  • Dallas Buyers Club 2013

    ★★★ Watched 07 Dec, 2013

    It’s not great, but never really goes wrong, and I like the moment-to-moment push and urgency of the thing. Great to see a likable hero who never remotely approaches perfection. Matthew McConaughey is something special.

  • Locke 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 30 Aug, 2014

    I really liked this movie. Two things it reminded me of: Arbitrage, because he’s in a really crappy position and he’s trying to make do. And Bronson, because it’s Tom Hardy putting on a one-man show and just nailing it. About 99% of it is watching him on phone calls while he’s driving. I love it when movies play with constraints like this. So good.

  • Under the Skin 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 29 Apr, 2014

    Even now, a couple weeks later, I’m still not sure if I liked it or not. Which technically is a “yes”. At the least, I appreciate that there’s nothing quite like it.

  • 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.

  • Snowpiercer 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 11 Jul, 2014

    I keep thinking about this one. There are plenty of logical flaws, loopholes, heavy-handed messaging, whatever. But it’s so cool. The railroad car constraint lends to some great invention with sets and storytelling and form. Evans shows some range you don’t get to see in the Marvel movies. Swinton drives me nuts sometimes, but I really appreciated her role here for both evil and levity. I rank this highly among 2014 releases, in the good company of Edge of Tomorrow, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Lego Movie.