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  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 28 Jul, 2014

    The most interesting superheroes are rough around the edges. They have the potential to be monsters, imperfect beasts constantly warring with their own impulses and urges. In essence, they aren’t that special or honorable until the situation demands it.

    Many of the recent comic-book adaptations that have infected America’s silver screens aren’t interested in such complicated protagonists. Pandering silliness nearly always wins the day. When things do get dark (like Christopher Nolan’s seriously serious Batman trilogy), the dramatic volume gets…

  • A History of Violence 2005

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 19 Jul, 2014

    Kill shots.

  • Lucy 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 22 Jul, 2014

    Besson goes Roeg and upends the action genre with a thunderous Malick.

  • Happy Christmas 2014

    ★★ Watched 23 Jul, 2014

    Joe Swanberg made his mark on the independent-film scene, crafting super-low-budget melodramas about young people experimenting with sex and moral ineptitude. In 2013, Drinking Buddies catapulted him into the mainstream; this deceptively bleak film breezily riffed on romantic-comedy tropes while occasionally flirting with darker territory. It was also the first time Swanberg worked with legitimate movie stars like Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick.

    Happy Christmas finds the filmmaker once again dabbling in millennial malaise. This time Kendrick plays Jenny, a…

  • Divergent 2014

    ★★★ Watched 26 Jul, 2014

    If this thing gets substantially darker in the later chapters it could turn into something special. A nicely crafted and patient origin story.

  • The Other Woman 2014

    ★★½ Watched 19 Jul, 2014

    If Howard Hawks had made a mediocre women's picture about revenge.

  • Need for Speed 2014

    ★★½ Watched 18 Jul, 2014

    Nuts and bolts.

  • The Purge: Anarchy 2014

    ★★ Watched 15 Jul, 2014

    This could have been a great art film if it had comprised of Frank Grillo's armed vigilante roaming the streets on Purge night witnessing travesty after travesty offscreen, with the violence only occasionally spilling into his perspective. By the end of the night, he simply gives up his vengeful intentions. Now that's a movie I would watch.

    Instead, we get PURGE: ANARCHY.

  • Transcendence 2014

    ★½ Watched 14 Jul, 2014

    A real dog (no offense to real dogs). Maybe I could have gotten over the pompous profundity if this thing was well paced and actually crafted. Instead, it's a scrambled up, glossily shot social critique that's just as delusional as Depp's power-hungry sentient being.

  • The Big Clock 1948

    ★★★½ Watched 09 Jul, 2014

    Strange, idiosyncratic noir that kicks into gear (my one clock pun) late in the film when Farrow confines the action to an elaborate maze of a newspaper building. Hokey, but kind of great. And Charles Laughton is wonderfully seedy and vile.

  • Wish I Was Here 2014

    ★★ Watched 10 Jul, 2014

    Cloying, pandering, and unrelentingly precious, or a Zach Braff movie. I did admire Kate Hudson's reserved, poignant, and charming performance. She rekindled a little of that ALMOST FAMOUS magic after a good 14 year gap.

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014

    ★★★ Watched 08 Jul, 2014

    You can see a lot of Reeves' best qualities in the opening 30 minutes. Quiet, atmospheric images of outcasts attempting to live independently. Nature as a shield from human encroachment. It really is beautiful, until the plot kicks in. Reeves handles the shift admirably, and DAWN manages to retain a nasty veracity despite its PG-13 rating. Serkis, once again, reigns supreme as Caesar. His performance should be recognized come awards season, but it won't be.