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  • Avengers: Age of Ultron

    Avengers: Age of Ultron 2015

    ★★½ Watched 18 May, 2015 4

    The best scene might be early in the movie when the team is hanging out at Headquarters. The narrative basis for the best gags, like the best action sequences, is the comparison of powers among the Avengers. It's true again in this scene, for instance, when everyone is taking turns trying to lift Thor's hammer (a gag that pays off again later when Vision comes on the scene). I didn't want to leave this scene and when it was over…

  • Whiplash

    Whiplash 2014

    ★★★ Watched 10 Mar, 2015

    Thoroughly entertaining for most of the film thanks to Teller and Simmons, but the third act hasn't sat well with me. A triumphant tone overwhelms some nods to horror in such a way that leaves me very sympathetic to Glenn Heath, Jr.'s take down of the film.

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  • The Tree of Life

    The Tree of Life 2011

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 21 Nov, 2014

    Showed the film to students this week.

    I've written quite a bit about The Tree of Life, but I have still often felt that I've not yet articulated why the film's so important to me on a more personal level.

    In the middle of the film when Malick is drawing the obvious contrast between the mother and the father--between the way of grace and the way of nature--he concludes the mother's sequence of scenes with young Jack praying by his…

  • The New World

    The New World 2005

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 25 Jan, 2014 2

    Maps. Paths. Trees. Faithfulness.

    Post-Rolfe there are two shots in the film of Pocahontas sitting--almost fixtured--in a tree. The first takes place in the midst of a series of edits: wedding ring on finger, sky, Pocahontas in the tree's branches. She's had a branch break (Smith) but she's still reaching toward the light until: "Mother, now I know where you live."

    It seems on the surface obvious to say so, but Bordwell emphasizes that the quickest way to get a…