Rob has written 20 reviews for films released in 2014.

  • Crazy World

    Crazy World

    ★★

    Charming but exhausting. The action is too quick, the plot is too slow, and at 65 minutes, it runs at least four times longer than it needs to. Also, given the abject poverty constantly on display, I was distracted for most of the movie wondering how the profit sharing works when a no-budget DIY flick like this gets international distribution. Oh, and having not set foot in a movie theater in four months, the Alamo Drafthouse intro instantly brought tears to my eyes.

  • God's Not Dead

    God's Not Dead

    They Photoshopped Adam’s junk out of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

  • What We Do in the Shadows

    What We Do in the Shadows

    ★★★½

    For a very silly mockumentary about vampire roommates, What We Do in the Shadows packs a lot of heart, even as said vampires are violently devouring the blood of their innocent victims. Their benign malevolence (and that of their werewolf nemeses) – bolstered by impressively committed special effects – is a rare and delightful alchemy, and one that generates a lot of laughs.

  • White God

    White God

    ★★½

    Come on, Mundruczó, it can’t be that hard to get Baha Men on the phone these days.

  • The Look of Silence

    The Look of Silence

    ★★★★

    As the counterpart to the devastating documentary The Act of Killing, which showcased death squad leaders gleefully dramatizing their unpunished roles in Indonesia’s 1960s genocide, The Look of Silence is less pronounced but more affecting. Focusing this time on the family of one of the estimated one million victims, it follows optometrist Adi Rukun as he calmly confronts his brother’s murderers, who are readily accessible and forthcoming with gory details. While the previous film tangled with notions of guilt and…

  • Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

    Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

    ★★★

    Exhaustive and exhausting, Electric Boogaloo’s overview of Cannon Films’ raucous history covers dozens of the production company’s provocative movies with blinding speed. Given that its subject at its peak averaged nearly one film produced per week, the pace is appropriate, and the clips and talking heads all whiz by so fast that reflection yields little more than an admittedly mesmerizing blur of explosions and boobs. Enough sunk in to convince me to revisit Cannon’s catalog, whose pulpy trailers and VHS covers made an indelible impression on my youth.

  • Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler

    ★★★

    As an indictment of our news media’s bloodlust and its complicity in racist fear mongering, the machinations of Nightcrawler’s Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Nina Romina (Rene Russo) have the depth and subtlety of a Chick tract. Their unashamed “if it bleeds, it leads” philosophy is transparently arranged for maximum repugnance*, presumably with the intention of ironically using TV journalism’s own brand of reductive alarmism against it. But the staging of their discussions makes for a stale polemic, too straight-faced…

  • It Follows

    It Follows

    ★★★★

    What a difference a shift in perspective makes. David Robert Mitchell’s directorial debut, The Myth of the American Sleepover, was a pensive coming-of-age drama that showed promise but was ultimately defeated by its own one-note sotto voce. With It Follows, Mitchell takes on the same themes much more successfully by funneling them through a simple but ingenious horror premise: the carrier of a sexually-transmitted curse is slowly but relentlessly pursued by a malevolent, shape-shifting being until the accursed can pass…

  • The Guest

    The Guest

    ★★★½

    The original Uncle Buck is still the best, but this is a really fun remake.

  • Frank

    Frank

    ★½

    A caricature of creativity.

  • The Trip to Italy

    The Trip to Italy

    ★★½

    This superfluous sequel to The Trip is distinguished from its predecessor in two ways: 1) The titular road trip swaps northern England for Italy, and 2) Rob Brydon tries his hand at the mid-life crisis Steve Coogan had in the first film. Otherwise, The Trip to Italy is more of the same, and I do mean more. Remember all those celebrity impressions? They were funny, right? Here they are again, seemingly sans editing, driven far past their breaking point. The…

  • Inherent Vice

    Inherent Vice

    ★★½

    There are many enjoyable moments in Inherent Vice’s drug-addled noir, most of them occurring between Joaquin Phoenix’s hippie P.I. and Josh Brolin’s crooked cop. As a whole, though, the stupor the audience is made to share with the protagonist renders the intricacies of the hardboiled plot largely impenetrable. That bewildering effect is fitting but unsatisfying.