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  • White Bird in a Blizzard 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 22 Nov, 2014

    I suppose I'm an Araki apologist, but I just loved the overall mood of this. Shailene Woodley turns in another outstanding performance (although even I was surprised that she got naked in multiple scenes). Using 'Scope for only the second time in his career, the film is carefully composed and art directed within an inch of its life for the 1988/1991 timeframe depicted. Typical for Araki, the soundtrack is littered with magnificent, mostly 4AD, artists (I squealed when Woodley walked into frame wearing a This Mortal Coil t-shirt).

  • Ida 2013

    ★★★★½ Watched 22 Nov, 2014

    This quiet Polish drama about a nun who goes off to visit her lone surviving family member before taking her vows features stunning black and white cinematography in Academy ratio. Agata Trzebuchowska's performance is one of the best I've seen all year.

  • A Most Violent Year 2014

    Watched 19 Nov, 2014

    Review embargoed.

  • Love Is Strange 2014

    ★★½ Watched 18 Nov, 2014

    Where to begin?

    The reviews for this movie had me so angry that we missed it theatrically. Maybe the fault is mine because I was expecting one of the best gay-themed films I'd ever seen as a result.

    Instead, while I was treated to incredible performances (by straight actors, natch), I found the storyline difficult to take. A partnered gay couple together for 39 years finally is able to get married and then their entire world falls apart. They spend…

  • The Theory of Everything 2014

    ★★½ Watched 11 Nov, 2014

    A prime piece of Oscar bait for the fall, this biopic finds Eddie Redmayne as the legendary British physicist Stephen Hawking. Based on his ex-wife Jane's memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, Felicity Jones stars as Jane, who begins a college relationship with Stephen before the ALS diagnosis that changed his life forever. It hovers just slightly above a made-for-television for most of the picture, but there's no question that Redmayne gives a remarkable performance in an otherwise unremarkable film.

  • Young & Beautiful 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 11 Nov, 2014

    Francois Ozon's career fascinates me mostly because he just keeps making film after film and there are not many through lines from one to the next.

    In Jeune & Jolie, Marine Vacth is stunning as a 17-year-old French girl who begins to prostitute herself on the side for extra money. She's calmly distanced from the acts that she is performing, often with much older men. It isn't until one of her best clients dies that she is forced to deal with her actions and their ramifications.

    This film couldn't be more French and I ate it up with a spoon.

  • Chef 2014

    ★★★ Watched 01 Nov, 2014

    The first act drags on for nearly an hour before getting to the real heart of the story and then the last act feels incredibly rushed. There are story threads left in the air and the final moments felt tacked on. That said, it's a mostly enjoyable movie with an incredible soundtrack.

  • Nightcrawler 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 31 Oct, 2014

    Over the last several years Dan Gilroy has made a name for himself in Hollywood as a screenwriter. After a few misses, he struck gold with The Bourne Legacy, a script that really put him on the map and ended up giving him the power to jump behind the camera. His directorial debut, Nightcrawler, is a slick thriller, even though it plays out like a gritty b-movie. Robert Elswit, Paul Thomas Anderson's frequent cinematographer, captures the streets and vistas of…

  • Beautiful Girls 1996

    ★★★★★ Watched 01 Nov, 2014 1

    Viewed in a pristine 35mm print & post-film Q&A with Timothy Hutton

  • Abuse of Weakness 2013

    ★★★★½ Watched 27 Oct, 2014

    Breillat takes her own personal story of being ripped off by a con man and turns it into her of her greatest works of art. It's a fitting end to the story which brings in Isabelle Huppert to portray a cinematically enhanced version of the provocative French director and give us one of the best performances of her career.

  • Birdman 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 26 Oct, 2014

    Technically dazzling, sometimes to a fault. The performances are incredible and I was never bored, but the last act kind of fell apart for me. I think I may need another viewing.

  • St. Vincent 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 14 Oct, 2014

    Originally posted on Slackerwood:

    By the time St. Vincent draws to a close, you'll probably feel emotionally manipulated. You will have certainly realized that you've seen this story what feels like a million times before. If you're super nitpicky, you might even be inclined to make a list of films in the same vein that you like better (About A Boy and Rushmore immediately spring to mind). Unless you are as curmudgeonly as Vincent (Bill Murray) in this motion…