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  • Prometheus 2012

    ★★ Watched 12 Jun, 2012

    It’s not all that bad, but, still… it’s kind of a mess. No good when you find yourself laughing at a heavy movie. I was sold for the first 70-80 minutes, though. Mostly. A better script and serious editing would be a good start. Also handicapped by a cookie-cutter score. Cue the French horn! My first draft for this post was longer, but it was turning into a pile-on. Shame to see talent like Fassbender, Rapace, Theron, and Elba not put to full use. You’re better off staying home and watching Alien again.

  • Mud 2012

    ★★★★★ Watched 11 Nov, 2013

    Best summarized in this review I stumbled upon where I lifted the still above: “Mud reminds us that the most special effect is compelling characters caught in a vexing situation.” (www.patheos.com/blogs/dochollywood/2013/05/mud-mcconaughey-on-the-mississippi-is-an-instant-classic/) Check and check. I loved this movie. Jeff Nichols is on a roll right now, after directing Shotgun Stories, and then Take Shelter, and then this. I’m excited for whatever is next.

  • Entrance 2012

    ★★ Watched 31 Jan, 2013

    I was with it until the last half hour. Good slice of Los Angeles, though, and a good creepy final moment.

  • Moonrise Kingdom 2012

    ★★½ Watched 14 Jun, 2012

    Wes Anderson is simply not my director. When I wrote about Bottle Rocket, I had the thought, "I wonder if I’d like his movies more if I’d seen them as serials?" I wonder about this because the structural repetition really wears on me over the course of a movie. Repetitive framing, symmetry, truck here, pan there, dolly now and then. It’s like a slideshow sometimes. I respect the precision and fastidiousness, but for most of it I just couldn’t sustain…

  • Dark Shadows 2012

    ½ Watched 27 Oct, 2012

    DNF. It’s terrible.

  • 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 2011

    ★★★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 Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011

    ★★★ Watched 29 Sep, 2014

    I loved the trippy oozy music video opening. Seemed like they were trying to kick off a brand. (I’m glad Fincher didn’t get sucked into a trilogy though). Dunno. It’s good. A little cold.

  • 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…