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  • Hide Your Smiling Faces

    Hide Your Smiling Faces 2013

    ★★★ Watched 18 Jun, 2014

    Two brothers wrestle with death in their midst. Not amazing, but not bad at all. They found some ridiculously great locations, and I appreciate the emotional modesty. If you’re looking for other movies starring two adolescent boys growing up before your eyes, I recommend The Return and highly recommend Mud.

  • Side Effects

    Side Effects 2013

    ★★★ Watched 29 Jun, 2013

    I made this a Soderbergh-takes-on-controlled-substances double-feature with Traffic. Hitchcockian psycho-thriller here. It gets too clever in the final act, but I like that you see new facets of these characters all the way up to the end. I think his understated style helps manage those swings. Soderbergh can be pretty overt with his themes, especially with some side characters that are basically there for social commentary. The leads are strong, though. I totally forgot about the intro and did the jaw-drop forehead-slap thing with the kitchen scene. Good soundtrack tends to linger and push things along, like in Contagion.

  • Django Unchained

    Django Unchained 2012

    ★★★★ Watched 03 Jan, 2013

    The best way to summarize my experience is that this movie made me excited about what movies can do. And like when I saw Compliance last summer, a huge part of the experience is how you share it with a theater full of other viewers. Powerful, thoughtful entertainment that makes you think about why you’re entertained.

  • Jack Reacher

    Jack Reacher 2012

    ★★★½ Rewatched 26 Nov, 2014

    I liked it the first time, but I appreciate it so much more now. More subtlety than I remembered, like starting with a solid 8-10 minutes without dialogue. More great humor than I remembered, like Reacher sometimes acknowledging that he’s a bit ridiculous. And the mouthing off before the fight outside the bar. Love the dynamism in the car chase, great filming there. Also LOVE how he takes control of the hostage negotiation on the phone. There’s nothing else like it. This, then Oblivion then Edge of Tomorrow is a solid three-year run.

  • Jack Reacher

    Jack Reacher 2012

    ★★½ Watched 12 Jan, 2014

    Pulpy, ridiculous, and just barely passable thriller. Tom Cruise, though. I love how pretty much every female in the movie starts drooling whenever he passes by. He’s a pretty remorseless “hero”, but interesting to see him enact a very personal brand/blend of justice and opportunism.

  • Zero Dark Thirty

    Zero Dark Thirty 2012

    ★★★★ Watched 18 Jan, 2013

    I can’t think of many movies with such a steady build-up. Really well done. Setting aside any moral/political/veracity issues you may like to bring up, what I really loved was the simplicity of the plotline. Like Steven Shaviro wisely points out (must read, I say), it’s a procedural film. There are people who want to locate a man. It’s really difficult. They spend a decade working on it. Although we have a single protagonist, there’s no love interest. There are…

  • Life of Pi

    Life of Pi 2012

    ★★★ Watched 09 Dec, 2012

    Awesome special effects and photography, almost worth watching simply for the spectacle. (Reminds me of The Fall in that way). I’d like it sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much more overall without the (blunt, preachy) narrative wrapper. I DNFed on the book several years ago. Not sure how it compares.

  • Lincoln

    Lincoln 2012

    ★★★ Watched 17 Nov, 2012

    The best movie about the legislative process released this year! For real, historical biography isn’t my thing (Lawrence of Arabia excepted), so I liked that the condensed timeline here moved it more into political drama with horse-trading and cajoling and backroom negotiation. I have my complaints (over-teaching; soft-focus soap opera lighting; lens flare; tokenism; etc.), but still… DDL is the man. His storytelling, along with the other individual performances, make it worthwhile.

  • Deadfall

    Deadfall 2012

    ★★ Watched 29 Mar, 2014

    There’s some good northern winter noir here and there, but it’s not consistent. I wonder if a different, shorter edit would have worked better for me. The Place Beyond the Pines is a better exploration of family relationships + law enforcement. The Grey is a better snowbound film where the odds are stacked from the beginning. I should re-watch both of those.

  • Skyfall

    Skyfall 2012

    ★★ Watched 14 Feb, 2014

    Uhhh… I fell asleep. Word on the street is Quantum of Solace is the worst one? Having a hard time believing that. I did not enjoy this movie much. Casino Royale was pretty good, though.

  • Stories We Tell

    Stories We Tell 2012

    ★★★★½ Watched 16 May, 2014

    Such an amazing movie. Great blend of the real and the invented, as memory is wont to be.

  • Argo

    Argo 2012

    ★★★½ Watched 17 Dec, 2012

    I liked this one. The tension isn’t the violent suspense of The Town or the queasy terror of Gone Baby Gone. It’s just a precarious scheme, one chance, and there’s no shooting their way out. Very polished. And Ben Affleck has the best poker face in the game right now.