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  • 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. Turned out to be more of a “don’t make’em like that any more” conversation-driven movie. Lots of good stuff about identity and affiliation. Bold enough to bring up hard questions for everyone, and confident enough to leave room many answers. The fact that most of the cast are privileged, attractive, and young is a nice wink.…

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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…