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  • Spring Breakers

    Spring Breakers 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 24 Mar, 2013

    Great movie. Surface appeal is dangerous, no? It feels a little exploitative sometimes, but then again our protagonists have such undeniable agency that you wonder whose fantasy(-ies) you’re watching. So now what creeps you out? The movie repeats itself over and over. It’s the promise of spring break and sunshine and fun and release and anything but *this*, but looping to exhaustion. Interesting also that the movie borrows a contemporary sun-drenched/lens flare/desaturated/neon/present-tense-nostalgia fun aesthetic to undermine itself. Some dialogue I…

  • Stoker

    Stoker 2013

    ★★★ Watched 26 Mar, 2013

    When it comes to character and plot stuff, this didn’t seem very good. I got over the (I’m assuming intentionally) stilted dialogue. The problem for me was that I didn’t care what the truth was. I don’t need to like any characters, but I need to have a reaction to whatever the story reveals and develops. It kinda lands with a thud.

    I wonder again how I would have liked the movie if the story were told linearly, instead of…

  • To the Wonder

    To the Wonder 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 22 Apr, 2013

    This is probably a Malick-fans-only affair, given that he’s brought all his Malickisms to expected highs/belabored lows. So I liked it, naturally. It’s very chopped and fragmented, both within scenes and through time, but there is a clear arc here. Yet maybe it’s understated enough that you get as much drama out of it as you put in. The thing starts with Kurylenko’s narration, her camera, her self-documentation, so there’s an interpretation that most of it is her record. Regardless,…

  • 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.