RSS feed for markdlarson
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Broken Circle Breakdown

    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

    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

    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

    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.