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  • 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.

  • Only God Forgives 2013

    ★★ Watched 03 Aug, 2013

    Almost fell asleep. Veeerrry nice to look at, here and there, but it’s kinda boring. Even setting aside plot and taking everything as symbol or allegory or myth or archetype, the tension didn’t hold for me. None of the energy or electricity you see in Drive. Not quite as starkly focused as Valhalla Rising. No knockout performance like in Bronson. All that said, I did dig the ongoing hands/power/potency theme, and the use of an international setting without a ton of dumb exoticizing.

  • Pacific Rim 2013

    ★★★ Watched 13 Jul, 2013

    It’s a pretty mediocre-to-bad movie that I had a lot of fun watching. The dialogue is merely serviceable when it isn’t just blatant crib notes for the audience. It borrows from many good sources (Japanese montster/mecha/anime traditions, Top Gun, Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, Aliens, and more…), but doesn’t rise to their level. It trades in some really terrible international typing. The comic-relief duo is cringe-worthy. It also got caught in a weird zone where it was too long, they…

  • Ain't Them Bodies Saints 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 04 Sep, 2013

    Really enjoyed this one. Love the soundtrack, trimmed down to strings and clapping. There’s some DNA of tense Texas slow-pursuit films like No Country for Old Men, crossed with strains of outlaw lover flicks like Badlands and parts of Days of Heaven.

  • World War Z 2013

    ★★★ Watched 11 Oct, 2013

    Pretty stock adventure for most of its runtime, but the last act has some excellent tension. I’d still take I Am Legend or 28 Days Later or Night of the Living Dead over this one any day.

  • The Bling Ring 2013

    ★★★ Watched 10 Feb, 2014

    It's not amazing (characterization is pretty weak), but it does have an addictive energy to it. There's one burglary that's caught in a one-take long shot that's just perfect.

  • Man of Steel 2013

    ★★ Watched 21 Jun, 2013

    The best part of this movie was seeing Michael Shannon in Kansas, which reminded me I need to watch Take Shelter again. Otherwise, very disappointing and a waste of a good cast. Snyder bit off more themes than he could chew, even with 2.5 hours to work with. All rush and no impact. Then it devolves into heartless, comprehensive destruction. This is not a Superman that speaks to me. Oh, well. I’ll always have the teaser.

  • Fast & Furious 6 2013

    ★★★★½ Watched 05 Jun, 2013

    The best yet, no doubt. Two things help. One, it gets back to the roots a little bit (good drivers in fast cars going fast, car porn, bounteous stylishness). And two, it’s much, much better at what Fast Five tried to do (go bigger and more outrageous). I think I have to call it my favorite.

  • Star Trek Into Darkness 2013

    ★★½ Watched 12 Oct, 2013

    This one does not compare well to the other Star Trek movies. Fun, maybe, kinda, but there’s all kinds of narrative whiplash, and the non-Kirk, non-Spock characters aren’t quite there for me. Slapdash effort. Oh, well. I’ve still got my top 5 or 6 in the series to fall back on (movies VI, II, IV, I, VIII, XI, etc.)

  • Mud 2013

    ★★★★★ 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.” (www.patheos.com/blogs/dochollywood/2013/05/mud-mcconaughey-on-the-mississippi-is-an-instant-classic/) 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.

  • Iron Man 3 2013

    ★★★ Watched 09 May, 2013

    I liked it more than Iron Man 2, maybe not as much as the original Iron Man, though I don’t remember it well at this point. This was definitely funnier than the first sequel, with some Kiss Kiss Bang Bang-ish genre awareness and biting humor. The villains, though, were a letdown, and the silly action spectaculars were kind of a mess. Fun, though. And yeah, it is kind of a feature-length damnation of wearable computing.

  • Oblivion 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 26 Nov, 2013

    If you have seen and enjoyed a science fiction movie, you will probably find something to like here, where they’re all mixed and mashed into a movie that’s far from perfect, but more than good enough. Easy to find plotlines and moods from movies like Moon, Solaris, the new Solaris, 2001, The Matrix, WALL·E, Star Wars, Star Trek. (I particularly like the space-captain-retiring-to-California parallels with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek: Generations). I would have been okay…