RSS feed for AJ
  • Under the Skin 2013

    ★★ Watched 30 Jun, 2014

    There's much to admire about Under the Skin, primarily its gorgeous visuals. "Gorgeous," that's a word that gets tossed around a lot. I always feel slightly guilty when I dust it off, because it doesn't really say anything. But every once in a while, you come upon a film like Under the Skin, whose photography is so unique and spine-tingling that "gorgeous" is the only word that fits. Director Jonathan Glazer and his crew designed a new kind of camera…

  • They Came Together 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 29 Jun, 2014

    David Wain co-writing a rom-com parody with Michael Showalter, also featuring Michael Ian Black? Right there, I’m sold, give me my ticket (or Video on Demand, as the case may be). A long-time Stella fan, and fashionably late to The State, They Came Together is right up my alley. Throwing in Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd as an independent candy store owner and a candy corporation stooge, respectively, only sweetens the pot. The movie isn’t perfect; some scenes go on…

  • Citizen Ruth 1996

    ★★★★½ Watched 28 Jun, 2014 3

    There's a vicious humor to Citizen Ruth, Alexander Payne's first feature, the kind he left behind after Election. None of the characters are likable, but they don't have to be. Laura Dern's pregnant, sealant-huffing Ruth wants an abortion but finds herself trapped between pro-life advocates who want her to keep the baby and pro-choice advocates who want to make sure she can get rid of it. Both groups refuse to see her as a real person, lost in the race…

  • The Raid 2 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 26 Jun, 2014

    I was that guy, the one human being who didn’t like The Raid: Redemption. I found its elaborately choreographed action impressive on a technical level, its fight scenes much better than those in films I actually enjoyed; but its video game plot and almost total lack of characterization left me cold. I love a good dude-snaps-another-dude’s-neck-against-a-door-frame as much as the next guy, but I almost skipped The Raid 2.

    I’m glad I didn’t.

    With The Raid 2, Gareth Evans has…

  • Neighbors 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 23 Jun, 2014

    New parents Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne go to war with Zac Efron when his rowdy frat moves in next door. The result is probably the summer's best comedy. Rogen is hilarious, sure, but the revelations here are Byrne and Efron. I didn't particularly admire either of them prior to this, but they both have such impeccable comic timing and delivery that I'm looking forward to whatever they do next. It's also refreshing to get the sense that, unlike so…

  • The Sacrament 2013

    ★★★½ Watched 23 Jun, 2014

    Pretty thin stuff, but I still thought The Sacrament was enjoyable. It looks a hell of a lot better than most found footage films, and even provides an in-world reason for why: the characters are video journalists for Vice, immersing themselves in the world of a commune that turns out to be more like a cult. A lot of the beats will be familiar to fans of found footage or this type of horror, but Ti West squeezes as much…

  • The Rover 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 21 Jun, 2014

    At the risk of making it sound more derivative than it is, the best way to describe David Michôd’s The Rover is as The Road by way of Mad Max. It’s a brutal post-apocalyptic tale of survival set in the scorching Australian outback, one where cars are very important. Grand theft auto is what sets the story in motion: when Eric’s (Guy Pearce) car is stolen by a group of thieves, his relentless quest to retrieve it begins.

    Why? With…

  • X-Men: Days of Future Past 2014

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 21 Jun, 2014 1

    Second time through, the emotional beats and the spectacle still work like gangbusters. That Quicksilver scene is going to be a classic. And while I wish Michael Fassbender had more to do--as he did in First Class--James McAvoy is utterly fantastic as Xavier. Oh, and I like that Wolverine, though technically the star, doesn't hog the screen like he has in most of the other films.

    What I'm trying to say is, this is a good movie and I like it.

  • Pompeii 2014

    Watched 21 Jun, 2014

    Part of Will & AJ's Excellent LOLviewings

    Will started our viewing of the Kit Harington-starring Pompeii by saying, "YOU KNOW NOTHING VOLCANO." And that was the funniest thing I heard or saw for the next two hours, except for maybe a very poorly timed Jurassic Park reference (of all things) by Kiefer Sutherland and his terrible, terrible accent. Paul W.S. Anderson's style is bland enough that the movie never makes you want to scratch your eyes out, but Jesus, did anything happen in this movie?

  • The Rules of the Game 1939

    ★★★★ Watched 20 Jun, 2014

    Considering it's one of the most acclaimed films of all time, I'm honestly surprised it took me this long to watch The Rules of the Game. Blame an initially cold reaction to Renoir's Grand Illusion; I've since warmed to it, but like that film, Rules of the Game is one I admire more than embrace. Which is not to say it's not very good, because it is. The deep focus photography is especially impressive, allowing for elaborately choreographed background action.…

  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 15 Jun, 2014

    One of the best animated films of the decade deserves a follow-up every bit its equal, and that is exactly what How to Train Your Dragon 2 is. There's a comforting quality about the first film. It's a story of friendship and growing up and learning who your real family is. The sequel's drama is a little rougher, with higher stakes; be prepared for some interesting conversations with your kids.

    If you take them, that is. Just like the first,…

  • What About Bob? 1991

    ★★★½ Rewatched 14 Jun, 2014

    Bill Murray's my favorite actor, and for the longest time, What About Bob? was one of the few beloved Murray movies I just did not enjoy. It's new to Netflix Instant, though, so I thought I'd give it another go...and I'm glad I did. It's completely ridiculous, and if you expect any sort of plausibility, you'll be disappointed. But as a live-action Looney Tunes, with Richard Dreyfuss as Elmer Fudd and Murray as Bugs Bunny, it's pretty damn successful.