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  • 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.

  • The Broken Circle Breakdown 2012

    ★★★ Watched 09 Mar, 2014

    Heartbreaking. Cf. my thoughts on Blue Valentine. More like Bluegrass Valentine, amirite? Our relationships hinge on our ability to adapt not just to change itself, but also to how we accept/support/deny/undermine the effect on those we care about. I was pleasantly surprised by how much of this movie revolved around parenthood as much as romance. I was hoping for a bit more music. Took a quote-unquote “European” turn for a bit at the end.

  • Taken 2 2012

    ★★½ Watched 23 Dec, 2014

    I like the flip-flop here, where Neeson has to rely on his daughter for a bit. Love the nonchalant use of grenades. Neeson is the most nightmarish backseat driver you could ever imagine. Like Denzel in "The Equalizer", he gives the final bad guy a chance to make the right decision, but… people never learn. Not sure what’s up with the images here, like how the colors were pushed and processed into these weird greenish-yellow skin tones. That song "Tick…

  • Looper 2012

    ★★★½ Watched 03 Mar, 2013

    Pretty solid scifi. Just take a nugget of a concept and let it spool out around a handful of people. It makes movie sense in the moment even if it doesn’t later. I love this vision of a possible future. Dystopic, but not totally dire. Just worn out. Good job with the makeup, and especially how Gordon-Levitt takes on some Willis mannerisms. I love Jeff Daniels’ character. There is some violence that a certain demographics won’t take to very well,…

  • Killing Them Softly 2012

    ★★★ Watched 02 Oct, 2014

    A steady chain of transactions – literal and figurative distancing from violence – with a constant undertow of economic collapse/politicking in the background. Very heavy-handed, thematically, but it works. Crummy neighborhoods, bare infrastructure, sweat and damp. The scene with Liotta reduced to tears was more disturbing than any movie violence in recent memory. Odd visuals with the shallow focus and vignetting. I love that hyper-experiential scene with the guy getting hight and his fitful conversation – zooms, speed changes, audio shifts, etc. Too bad the packaging was off. This was much more thoughtful and strange than they sold it.

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower 2012

    ★★ Watched 15 Sep, 2013

    Had a few nice moments, but really not for me. Didn't click. I think I disliked the book, too, but I can't remember it at all. Shrug.

  • Arbitrage 2012

    ★★★½ Watched 25 Dec, 2013

    Throws you in the middle and lets you figure out the details, as you watch a dude try to keep his composure while bullshitting his way through a very bad week. If you like this, you may also like Michael Clayton (I do), which is similar in its cool, polished tone. I dig the soundtrack.

  • The Place Beyond the Pines 2012

    ★★★ Watched 09 Apr, 2013

    It’s a bummer that the wind goes out of the sails when Gosling leaves the screen, but that’s still to his and the director’s credit for those parts of the movie. And Mendes was fantastic. What a talent. I just wish the third act hadn’t run out of gas. But, then again, I think that’s partly me being snob-weary-dreary-bonehead, “Oh, another fathers and sons tale” and not wanting to give in to it. It’s good, though. Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine is pretty sharp, too.

  • The Master 2012

    ★★★★ Watched 24 Feb, 2013

    Phoenix was robbed, right? Where DDL takes an amazing script written for a national hero we love to love and embodies it just like we imagined, Phoenix plays a dummy the likes of which we’ve never seen. Maybe the awards don’t capital-m Matter, but man, I can see how it would sting. But the movie: I liked it, but I didn’t really feel it. I felt the same was with There Will Be Blood. Like, I didn’t want to blink…

  • Spring Breakers 2012

    ★★★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…

  • Frances Ha 2012

    ★★★★ Watched 04 Jun, 2013

    I loved it. We’re all incomplete; this is about filling in the gaps. The way it treats deep friendship is so rare in movies. There’s a great California interlude with family that underscores the theme. Home can be so comfortable, but we leave it and we have to figure out how to find that support elsewhere. Other things I liked: Gerwig has a delightfully expressive face, and great timing. I thought the script was funny and loose — it didn’t…

  • The Act of Killing 2012

    ★★★★½ Watched 17 Aug, 2013

    It follows a few semi-retired Indonesian gangsters/mass-murderers as they make an increasingly bizarre movie about their youth. Probably the most intense documentary I've seen. And not at all because it's graphic (It's not - the most wrenching scene for me, spoiler, was when you see these guys go on a neighborhood shakedown for cash. It is completely heartbreaking.). It's just morally rich and a really interesting text, excuse the academic-ese. All about storytelling, memory, forgetting; the influence of movies; youth vs. age. Totally worth it.