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  • The Avengers 2012

    ★★½ Watched 05 Apr, 2014

    The basic plot mechanics are a bit tired, but I am not ashamed to admit how satisfying it is to see the whole gang together after seeing others in the Marvel series. A couple neat camera moments (Cap in the rearview and a POV shot that flips along with the car it’s inside of). Nothing quite like the joy/terror of Hulk being Hulk. I really wish Renner had more to work with.

  • The Cabin in the Woods 2012

    ★★★ Watched 07 Jun, 2013

    A delight through and through. The framing plot that keeps things a little sluggish early also pushes it towards some glorious, satisfying excess before the ending. Great script. I’m no connoisseur of the genre, but Tucker & Dale vs Evil is another really great horror-satire I’d recommend.

  • The Hunger Games 2012

    ★★ Watched 01 Apr, 2012

    Well, it’s got plenty of flaws (script, directing, plot, length), but it’s entertainment. Good enough to kill my interest in the books. More than anything, it makes me want to watch Winter’s Bone again. Jennifer Lawrence is the real deal.

  • John Carter 2012

    ★★½ Watched 08 Dec, 2012

    Easily the most teal-and-orange movie I’ve ever seen. I feel like there’s a good movie hiding in here somewhere. It has some decent-enough swashbuckling action (and one really effective battle), and thankfully doesn’t rely on dumb one-liners or dopey comic relief characters or modern-day allegory. Overhaul the terrible dialogue, trim judiciously. It’s really straightforward, for all its excess in other ways (effects, cast, milieu) Andrew Stanton directed a dud here, but at least he’s still got Finding Nemo and Wall-E on his resume…

  • Haywire 2012

    ★★★½ Watched 14 Jul, 2012

    I love when genre films are cooler than they need to be. There’s plenty of moments of playing color and camera angles and audio cuts. The long shots of just running or driving in reverse (!). Quiet fights. Shower-time rummaging. The house with the lights out. The sunset beach scene. The careful, cautious rooftop chase was a nice change from the insane parkour we often see. The use of moody soundtrack reminded me of Manhunter. Carano is a little bit…

  • The Grey 2011

    ★★★★ Watched 13 Jan, 2013

    It’s great. Watch it. There are (spoiler) wolves that (spoiler) eat people! Cinematically! The occasional narration and flashbacks in the story didn’t entirely sit well with me right away, but the strength of the rest of the acting, set pieces, sound work, and general grim relentlessness were spot-on. I think maybe you can even argue in favor of the bluntness of the voiceover writing. We’re so used to heroes being accomplished, superlative, clever, admirable. This is kind of a regular…

  • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol 2011

    ★★★ Watched 07 Jan, 2013

    Forget the skyscraper scene, that dust storm chase was dope. Pretty stock otherwise, but with smartphones! I’m glad I saw it (it’s the second-best of the modern MI series, after the first one), despite all the times it made me groan. Oh, and Patton’s Jane Carter has nothing, nothing on Carano’s Mallory Kane in Haywire.

  • Take Shelter 2011

    ★★★★★ Watched 06 Mar, 2012

    This one isn’t great as a thriller, because you go in thinking the guy’s gonna be a lunatic and you don’t buy for a second that it’s not just all in his head. BUT, and this is huge, it’s really, really good just as a movie about mental illness. I don’t think I’ve seen many movies this convincingly sympathetic. Often when I see extreme psychological issues on screen (recently: Antichrist, Repulsion, Black Swan) it feels like an excuse for spectacle,…

  • Martha Marcy May Marlene 2011

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 21 Jun, 2014

    I loved it the first time I saw it. Now I’m even more convinced that it’s pretty special. We have the privilege of seeing all sides, and how hard it is for each to understand the other. Another awesome movie that explores the gap between what one person feels and what others experience is Take Shelter, which has been on my re-watch for way too long. Watch that one, and this one.

  • The Hunter 2011

    ★★★★ Rewatched 20 Jan, 2014

    Dang, I love this movie.

  • The Hunter 2011

    ★★★★ Watched 25 Dec, 2012

    Great movie! Dafoe is awesome per usual. I was also pleasantly surprised to not just tolerate, but really enjoy the child actors. It’s nice to watch Dafoe doing the day-to-day tasks of setting traps, navigating, recording the day’s work. I don’t love the opening and closing plot elements, but you have to have something to get the rest rolling. I love the environmental sounds in this one: water drips, crickets, bird calls and such. And there’s a wonderful Springsteen moment.

  • Shame 2011

    ★★★ Watched 11 Mar, 2012

    Just like with Hunger, my interest rarely wavered but I’m not totally sure what to make of it. It felt odd that a movie that’s so vivid and unafraid is also so… conservative? I’d scrap the song scene, which is a fine performance but so, so dreary compared to the rest of the movie. Michael Fassbender is incredible, though (makes me even more excited for Prometheus). Carey Mulligan is also great, with the reservation that I like her role’s characterizing-Fassbender function much more than her plot function as the movie progresses. I’m pretty sure I’ll watch whatever Steve McQueen’s next movie is.