RSS feed for Michael
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel

    The Grand Budapest Hotel 2014

    ★★★★ Added

    The protagonist of The Grand Budapest Hotel may be a rapscallion with an eye for wealthy older dames (by which I mean octogenarians) but he’s also a fellow of great integrity who understands what things in life are worth sacrificing oneself for. This moral-clarity-in-the-midst-of-screwball-chaos is finally what makes The Grand Budapest Hotel a worthy heir to the films of the great Ernst Lubitsch, its most important cinematic precedents.

    Full review at my blog:

  • The Wolf of Wall Street

    The Wolf of Wall Street 2013

    ★★★★ Added

    Martin Scorsese made a wise decision to paint this portrait of real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort as a grotesque — and occasionally surreal — black comedy, simultaneously ridiculing his protagonist for embodying the most asshole-ish aspects of the 1% (his existence is seen as a non-stop party of sex, drugs and the kind of debauchery that only “stupid money” can buy), while also sticking uncomfortably close to Belfort’s subjective state of near-constant euphoria. The result is arguably the funniest movie Scorsese…

  • Boyhood

    Boyhood 2014

    ★★★★★ Added

    Boyhood is the single film that best defines American life in the 21st century:

  • 12 Years a Slave

    12 Years a Slave 2013

    ★★½ Added

    Will Paul Dano ever NOT look and sound like a teenager playing an adult in a high-school play? Why does Brad Pitt use his Aldo Raine/hillbilly accent when his character hails from Canada? Is there something dubious about Steve McQueen's obsessive focus on physical suffering?

  • Moonrise Kingdom

    Moonrise Kingdom 2012

    ★★★½ Added

    Although I still haven’t caught up with The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom is easily my favorite Wes Anderson movie since Rushmore. While Anderson’s singular gifts as both writer and director are undeniable, there is something about the progression of his career, a tendency towards increasingly arch stylization, that has rubbed me the wrong way. Candy-box color cinematography and ostentatious set design may have always been important ingredients in the Anderson universe but it’s been a while since his impeccable…

  • Inside Llewyn Davis

    Inside Llewyn Davis 2013

    ★★★★ Added

    Evocatively set during the Greenwich Village "folk revival," Inside Llewyin Davis contains a pungent core of sadness, but it is also, as more than a few critics have noted, probably the Coen brothers’ warmest movie since The Big Lebowski. Their patented smart-ass humor has been replaced by (or has perhaps deepened into) something more emotional and affectionate, a lot of the credit for which should be given to Isaac and soundtrack supervisor T-Bone Burnett. But Inside Llewyn Davis is also…

  • American Hustle

    American Hustle 2013

    ★★★½ Added

    Like Robert Altman, David O. Russell apparently gives his actors free reign to help create their characters, which can admittedly lead to dead-end scenes and an overall sense of looseness but also moments of inspired nuttiness evident even in the hairstyles of the actors — e.g., combover (Bale), perm (Bradley Cooper) and pompadour (Jeremy Renner). So, no, American Hustle is not the best film of the year by a long shot, but watching world-class actors riotously tearing it up for…

  • Under the Skin

    Under the Skin 2013

    ★★★★½ Added

    One brief shot in Under the Skin accomplishes something that thousands of hours of gossip-news television shows cannot: it makes one sympathize with, indeed want to weep for, anyone bearing the burden of wearing celebrity skin.

  • Snowpiercer

    Snowpiercer 2013

    ★★★★ Added

    2014's best "summer popcorn movie":

  • Pacific Rim

    Pacific Rim 2013

    ★★★ Added

    It's pretty good for what it is but "what it is" in this case is, like the song says, my idea of nothing to do:

  • Argo

    Argo 2012

    ★★½ Added

    Now playing in theaters everywhere is Argo, the third directorial effort from actor-turned-filmmaker Ben Affleck and an audience and critical favorite that has been running continuously since its debut last October. Also now playing everywhere, after an Oscar-qualifying limited run in New York and L.A. last month, is Zero Dark Thirty, the new film from screenwriter Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow (the Oscar-winning team behind The Hurt Locker). The movies have some uncanny superficial similarities: both are fact-based thrillers…

  • The Cabin in the Woods

    The Cabin in the Woods 2012

    ★★ Added

    The Cabin in the Woods is the least original horror film about a "cabin in the woods" I've seen in years: